In 2013, Actor Varun Sharma’s debut film, Fukrey, proved to be a sleeper hit. The film impelled the audiences and critics alike to take notice of his potential as a comical actor. The 29-year-old has since given one hit after another. His latest film, Chhichhore, has also managed to tickle the funny bone of moviegoers. Sharma speaks to Guardian 20 about becoming an actor, the possibility of getting typecast in Bollywood and his recent hit.
Q. How did you get interested in acting?
A. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to get into acting. I was about seven or eight years old. I was watching Baazigar and the song “Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein” started playing. I started jumping on the bed and singing and dancing. I went up to my mother and told her that I wanted to become an actor. That was the first time the thought occurred to me and after that it stayed with me. So after finishing school, I did my graduation in filmmaking and then came down to Bombay for an internship. I decided to do the closest thing to acting, i.e. casting. I worked on films like Talaash,Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani and Student of the Year among others as an assistant casting director. I used to take auditions, give cues and also used to give my rounds of auditions simultaneously till the time I cracked a few ads and eventually my first film, which was Fukrey, happened. Once that got released, I got a lot of love from the audience and my life completely changed after that.
Q. What kind of difficulties have you faced in your career?
A. It has been a beautiful journey. But obviously it has not been an easy one. I have faced a lot of rejections. I auditioned for everything, right from ads and television to films to telefilms, but nothing panned out. I was still very consistent and focused about my passion. As an actor, there are phases where you know that a saturation point is coming your way, but you have to balance it out really well and make yourself stronger. I think those phases made me stronger.
Q. How did your first film, Fukrey, happen for you?
A. It was a very long process. It was a journey that lasted some 6-7 months. Right from my audition to the confirmation, I went through around 20 auditions. The rest of the cast was locked before me. So at first I would give auditions alone… And then I would read with Pulkit Samrat [Sharma’s co-star in the film] to see if our camaraderie was working. It was a beautiful one-year experience for me and it is the most special role and most special film of my life.
Q. Post-Fukrey, the audiences recognised your talent in a comic role and similar roles started coming your way. Do you have any fear of getting typecast?
A. I don’t feel scared of getting typecast. I think for any actor, to get cast on a regular basis with good banners and scripts is a very big thing in itself. I feel typecasting comes in much later. I enjoy making people laugh and I love it when they have a smile on their faces because of me. I do want to try out different things and hopefully, in the future, audiences will see me in a different light.
But I love the comedy genre. It is something that has given me the acceptance and love that I receive today. It would be wrong if I put this on a backseat to try something else. So I would continue doing this and try new things as well.
Q. What kinds of roles appeal to you?
A. I am one of those who go by their gut. If I hear a script and find it interesting, or if I find something that is wacky or quirky, then I just give it a go-ahead right there. I don’t go very deep into the thing. I feel blessed to have been a part of very good films and I hope that continues.
Q. Any film genres that you are keen on exploring in the near future?
A. A lot actually. I love thrillers, dark films and sci-fi. I am a huge admirer of crime drama. These are the genres which I am really fond of and I am hooked on to a lot of such shows. I hope that in time to come, I will portray characters in films from these genres.
Q. Are you open to working in the digital space?
A. Of course, I am absolutely open to doing digital stuff. The content and the subjects that the digital space touches upon are amazing. As actors, there are certain limitations when you do films. But in digital, you can be very honest with the writing and the making. To be a part of something like this, in all honesty, would be great. The digital space is big and I would love to explore it.
Q. Which filmmakers would you like to work with at some point in your career?
A. There are lots of filmmakers I would like to work with. Topping my list is Sriram Raghvan; I am a huge admirer of his films. Then, Zoya Akhtar is someone who makes fabulous films and I would love to be a part of her cinema. Some day, I would also like to work with the phenomenal director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The list is long.
Q. Tell us about your role in your recent movie, Chhichhore, which has received great reviews.
A. The film is about these friends from IIT who cross paths later in life as well—in their 20s and later in their 40s. The film is about how this bunch of friends comes back together. It is all about the spiriti of reunion and the nostalgia. It also educates us about certain things that are very relevant in today’s time. For me, if I need to put the film in one line, I would like to say it is one of the most soulful stories told in the most entertaining manner.