Kartik Aaryan on Love Aaj Kal: I'm working out of my comfort zone for the first time and it’s a litmus test for me
Kartik Aaryan discusses moving away from comedy for Love Aaj Kal, and how 2020 will be even bigger for him than the last year.
Besides the upcoming Valentine’s Day release Love Aaj Kal (opposite Sara Ali Khan), which is a follow-up to Imtiaz Ali’s 2009 movie (featuring Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone), Kartik will be seen in a coveted line-up of big banner franchise films – Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Dostana 2 (actor's first with Dharma Productions), to hit the screens in July and December respectively. But as of now, the eight-film-old actor, whose filmography was dominated by comedies so far, is excited being called the romantic hero of Imtiaz.
“It’s a big thing for me. It has been a life-changing experience because Imtiaz sir has changed me not only as an actor but also as a person. I am working out of comfort zone for the first time. Love Aaj Kal is an intense romantic film. It is a hardcore love story, and for my career, it is a litmus test whether the audience will like me or not in this avatar,” says Kartik, one of the most popular actors in Bollywood today. Kartik became an overnight sensation with the super success of 2018 release Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, seven years after his smashing debut with Luv Ranjan’s Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011).
The new film, that also stars Arushi Sharma and Randeep Hooda, explores two stories set in two different time periods, 1990s and 2020. Kartik will be seen playing two different characters. He will be seen as a schoolboy named Raghu in the '90s and a nerd Veer in 2020, and both the character look poles apart. “We did a lot of prep to get the body language right, and how the two characters talk. At times, Veer can look weird because he is a bit robotic, and likes living in isolation. You will find him awkward in parties and social circles. It was difficult to portray this character but I sat with Imtiaz sir, and studied the character, worked on the body language, broke down the rhythm, and I really enjoyed the process,” says Kartik.
“Then, the second character,” he continues, “Is a bit filmy. He is influenced by heroes from the '90s. Even when he does lip sync, he does it in a filmy way, and to prep for the role and create that atmosphere, I used to watch movies and listen to music from that period. Like for instance, ‘Ae Mere Humsafar’ from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, and songs from Maine Pyar Kiya as well. We would go into so much detailing and body language that we even discussed body chakras,” he laughs.
The film, quite obviously, invited comparisons to the previously made film as not only the title but also the larger theme and structure of the film remains the same. "But all the four characters, Veer, Zoe, Raghu, and Leena, from the past and present, their language and thought process are all very new and different. I feel connected with all of them. We haven't seen a love story for a long time, and that also makes me confident about the film," says Kartik.
Since Love Aaj Kal of 2009 was highly appreciated by the audiences, Kartik says it is an added responsibility on him. “Then even with big franchises, producers are believing in me to take them forward, which is a big deal. I am getting huge opportunities, be it Dostana or Bhool Bhulaiyaa. I feel both the films were commercial and massy in that time, and my most commercial and massy entertainer till date would be Bhool Bhulaiyaa. Dostana will push the envelope further,” says Kartik, “But it wasn’t a conscious decision to do sequels. It so happened that whichever script I liked there was 2 attached to it (laughs),” he further adds.
While comedy comes easy to Kartik, the actor reveals it is romantic and intense roles that give him more creative satisfication. “I agree that comedy is the most difficult genre to crack because if you go wrong then nobody can relate to that humour. And I will be happy if I’m able to improve my comic timing but I love doing drama films. I have been really keen on doing romantic and intense roles. I connect with them, and get more creative satisfaction. Romance also has its own challenges, where you have to feel and express in lesser words. In a love story, a lot can be conveyed with just the look that what is going on inside you instead of saying a dialogue or whether through songs or scenes. I have done comedy, and now, I am on the next stage of my career, and I really hope that I get to do more romantic films,” says Kartik.
He was recently embroiled in a controversy when during a radio interview, he was asked about comparisons with Ayushmann Khurrana. Kartik replied their movies are based on different ideologies, “It happens that Ayushmann does films about men with defects while I do films (referring to the characters in his previous films like Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety) about women with defects!” The comment didn’t go down well with netizens who found the comment sexist and supercilious.
Kartik had also invited criticism for the themes in his films. His previous flick Pati Patni Aur Woh faced controversy for a scene that trivialised marital rape, which was then later removed. “I have this habit of shooting my mouth off, and I shouldn’t be left unleashed,” he says. “But I specifically said that I have read memes on me and Ayushmann, and it was funny to see what people thought about us and about our choice of films. There was meme on it, which was being discussed over there. I didn’t mean to hurt sentiments. I wasn’t making any statement,” he clarifies.
When prodded further on social responsibility of an actor, he says, "I'm firstly an entertainer, and I love doing that. Many a times, two worlds coincide where responsibility comes in because you are the role model, and people look up to you. What you say, what you feel, and what you do, not just in your personal life, but even on screen, gets scrutinised. I entered the industry dreaming to become an actor. Slowly, you become the role model, and what you say is more valued. If tomorrow, I get an opportunity to do a film that gives a social message, I will do it but entertaining people will remain my primary job, and I will continue doing massy entertainers," he concludes.
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