We took two months to figure out what language to use

Interview/ Sidharth Malhotra, actor

Sidharth Malhotra | AFP Sidharth Malhotra | AFP

Actor Sidharth Malhotra had a dream debut in 2012 with the Karan Johar film Student of the Year. But his luck has been patchy since then. With his latest film, Jabariya Jodi, releasing on August 9, and two others in the pipeline, Malhotra is keeping his fingers crossed.

Jabariya Jodi is nothing like your other films in which you play uber cool, urban characters. What inspired you to do it?

The first thing that attracted me about the film was that the character, the world, the sur (tone), the comedy and its central issue were nothing like what I had done before. Just because I have not played a hinterland character before, some people assumed that I could not. That became a challenge for me. An interesting story of a pakadwa vivah (groom kidnapping), it had me playing a boy from heartland Patna who is strong and funny. That is what drew me to the film.

Your role involved speaking in an unfamiliar dialect. Was it a challenging experience?

Language was the first point of discussion and preparation. We took about two months to figure out what language to use. Eventually, we decided to go with Pataniya Hindi, which is a mix of Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili. Because it is a Hindi film, we wanted to make it appealing to audiences across India. I worked with the whole team for two months and then I had a private tutor help me get the nuances right. The attempt was to make it subtle and natural. So far, I have got a very good response.

There have been many ups and downs in your acting career since 2012. Does reinventing yourself help? Is there pressure to do so?

I have always tried to keep reinventing myself. Maybe that is the reason why none of my characters look the same. The success or failure of a film is something you cannot control. It is at times scary and confusing, but you learn from it. In every generation, there are only a handful of actors who are accepted in leading roles and I feel blessed to be one of them. Looking forward, I am very excited about my upcoming films, which, besides Jabariya Jodi, include a mass-action film, Marjaavaan, and a biopic on a Kargil martyr, Shershaah.

The Hindi film industry, of late, is embracing outsiders, with many of them getting plum roles. Does it make you insecure or envious? Or is it empowering?

I think no one has the same journey. I do not know of any actor who has had a journey like mine. I do not believe in envying anybody. When I came to Mumbai to become an actor, I did not succeed. And then I went behind the camera to assist the director. I have had a roller-coaster ride. To me, that is special. Newer actors are good for the industry. Now, it is up to us to shape the characters we play.