Kartik Aaryan on Dhamaka success: ‘I'm more confident now to explore content-driven films’

In an exclusive interview with Firstpost’s Eshita Bhargava, Kartik Aaryan speaks about the success of Dhamaka, his journey in the Hindi film industry, being director’s favourite, upcoming projects, his take on OTT platforms, and much more.

Eshita Bhargava December 06, 2021 08:52:07 IST
Kartik Aaryan on Dhamaka success: ‘I'm more confident now to explore content-driven films’

From being an actor known for acing the rom-com genre, Kartik Aaryan has come a long way. Not just fans, the actor has become a favourite of directors, producers, and the industry at large. His portrayal of Arjun Pathak, a news anchor who gets caught in a web of lies and deceit, with his moral compass being tested time and again, in the recently released film Dhamaka shows him in a different light as an actor and brings out a shade of his talent that we’ve never seen before.

Since its release, Dhamaka has been trending in the Top 5 Non-English Films worldwide on Netflix. It is also trending in the top 10 in films in 10 countries on the streaming platform including India, UAE, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

In an exclusive interview with Firstpost’s Eshita Bhargava, Kartik Aaryan speaks about the success of Dhamaka, his journey in the Hindi film industry, being director’s favourite, upcoming projects, his take on OTT platforms, and much more. Excerpts from the interview:

How did it feel to dive deep into the mind of a news anchor? Did you anticipate that the film would be received so well by the audience?

Completing the shoot of Dhamaka took us 10 days, but I can’t tell you the number of days and the number of hours I took to prepare for my character, Arjun Pathak. Ram (Madhvani) sir gave me such an important role in my career that I had to put in the sweat, blood, and anything else it would have demanded. From the first frame till the end, I play a news anchor who’s on his job amidst critical circumstances. My character is in the newsroom throughout the film and I had to understand how a news reporter keeps calm and reports the news to the nation. It’s their everyday job, but for me, it was so new and different that I had a new level of respect for our news reporters and anchors. Coming to the love and appreciation the audience has given to the film and my performance, I can only say that as a team, we are overwhelmed. I'm more confident now to explore more such content-driven movies.

With this film, you got to showcase your range as an actor. Do you think it will help you further cement your position in the industry?

I do believe and hope so. As an actor, every film’s success of yours pushes you to the next level in the business.

With the kind of love, appreciation, critical acclaim I have received for Dhamaka, I'm feeling more validated as an artiste.

I feel like I have to challenge myself with every film I do and Dhamaka made me do things outside my comfort zone. I'm now ready to go out and grab more such roles and opportunities.

Do you think that you were being stereotyped as an actor after Pyaar Ka Punchnama (PKP) and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (SKTKS)?

I can’t call it a stereotype but yes, a lot of romantic-comedy genre films came my way. But that happens with every actor, when you prove yourself on the big screen and audiences see you in a certain role, certain kinds of films and characters automatically come your way. And there is nothing to complain about. As an actor, it’s important to strike the right balance and pick something new once in a while. I was lucky that Dhamaka came my way and it was just what I needed to show my craft in a different genre. Now that audiences have loved me in an intense role too, I can say that they should expect such dhamakas coming their way more often now.

How does it feel to top the wish-list of filmmakers?

I have worked hard to be where I am today. I feel blessed and grateful to be in this position. When a filmmaker starts keeping you in mind with a script, it’s truly a big thing for an actor. As an outsider with no connection in the film industry, when you hear such things... that feeling is surreal and I’m glad that all my struggles have paid off. Gratitude!

Kartik Aaryan on Dhamaka success Im more confident now to explore contentdriven films

As an outsider how tough was it for you to break into Bollywood? Tell us something about your journey.

My journey has been difficult but I guess that’s the real test of time and patience. I came from a small town, Gwalior, with zero knowledge about the film industry, I stayed in a small room with 12 roommates, I used to cook myself, traveled in local trains for long hours to go back and forth for auditions, used to change on railway stations for auditions and make sure I looked presentable. Along with that, I have faced several rejections and humiliations. Some people said on my face that ‘you are wasting your time, tumhara kuch nahin hoga.’ So, it wasn’t easy at all and I guess that struggle has made me what I am today. I’m happy that my belief in myself, my hard work, and my patience paid off.

Tell us something about your upcoming projects. Captain India, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Freddy, Shehzada. Throw some light on the characters and how different are they going to be from what we’ve seen?

It’s too early to talk about them, I won't be able to give you details but all I can say is all the roles are different, exciting and it will be a treat for my fans to watch me in a different role in every film.

Kartik, when a film doesn’t work at the box office, how do you deal with failure and negativity around you?

I believe it’s a part and parcel of the game. I don’t get too excited when my films work, and I don’t get too disappointed when they don’t. I always have this balance maintained between success and failure because that’s the only way to survive in this industry. I have seen failure early in my career but thankfully, not much negativity has come my way. People in the industry and audience have always been encouraging and supportive of my work. They have always showered me with their immense love and that's why I always say that I'm a fan-made-hero. I believe that if you want to do good work and want to remain focused, always think about positive and good things in life!

You know, Pyaar Ka Punchnama and SKTKS have often been called misogynistic. What do you have to say about that?

SKTKS is my one of biggest hits and PKP is considered one of the urban-cult films in the Hindi industry. Even today, when I go to any public event, people and especially girls request me to say the famous monologue. People have loved those two films and they are the reason we are here today talking about me and my journey. We never wanted to endorse anything or portray women in a bad light. However, a certain section of people felt that way and it was disheartening to know.

How difficult was it to maintain a façade till the time you made it big?

Façade is a big term. I guess when you are passionate about movies and always want to be here, then there is no need for any façade. You have to be happy when you’re a part of the industry because it’s not easy to be here. And once here, no success or no failure should affect you. Till SKTKS happened, I auditioned for movies, I was still known as ‘The monologue guy’, and the industry had still not taken me seriously. But there was no façade, I kept working hard. And that’s the only assured mantra for success.

When were you finally accepted by the industry?

SKTKS brought a big change in my career. The film’s big success made me connect with a wider audience. Soon people knew my name and I could see love and warmth pouring my way. Furthermore, the film entering the 100-crore club made people within the industry take notice of me as an actor. So, it was post the success of SKTKS that the industry-accepted me and that’s how this place works, you need to prove yourself to get people loving you. And since then, I have made sure that I double up my hard work. My dream is to become the No 1 in the industry and that demands a lot more from you as an actor.

According to you, how difficult is it to handle success and fame? What keeps you grounded?

Success and fame never come with a permanent stamp in this industry and hence if you take these two things too seriously, then it might become difficult to handle. Never let these things affect you. Talking about myself how I keep myself grounded, well for that I need to thank my family, friends, and my fans.

My family still treats me as Koki and not ‘Kartik Aaryan.’

My madness and tomfoolery with my sister remain the same at home and that keeps me grounded. Talking about my fans, the love they give me anywhere and everywhere is what keeps me happy. They stop midway when they spot my car on a traffic signal or when they see me stepping out of a dance studio. Despite me being super-tired, their smiles and the excitement on their faces make me feel so good. So that immense love also makes me feel grounded, they remind me to keep working hard and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my days at times.

What has the industry taught you?

To work hard, have patience, give my best, and never let success get to my head. It taught me that sooner or later hard work always pays off.

What do you have to say about OTT platforms? Do you think, they are a game-changer?

Of course, they are game-changers. Watching a film or a show at a click of a button is like magic. With OTT you can watch any show/ film anytime anywhere. Which I think is important considering the hectic schedule people are following these days. Also, the amount of international shows and films we are exposed to via OTT is just great.

When Dhamaka was released, I’ve got appreciation tweets and post 24 by 7 -- which was overwhelming. Since the movie was on a streaming platform, people watched it at any time and kept flooding my timeline with love. OTT platforms keep a movie alive for a long time and hence the love that keeps flowing is unlimited. Despite two weeks of its release, I still keep getting messages for Dhamaka. So that's great!

A film you loved and are proud of…

I love SKTKS and that’s because that’s one film that changed my life and made me a star. And currently, if you ask me, a film I’m proud of is Dhamaka. I had to prove my mettle as an actor and my fans have given me a thumbs-up for it and that makes me feel proud.

Kartik Aaryan on Dhamaka success Im more confident now to explore contentdriven films

How do you deal with criticism?

There is no better way to answer people who criticize you is by working harder and better every time, proving them wrong with every project you do.

We are about to end 2021 and begin 2022. What have you learned and what are your expectations from 2022?

2020 and 2021 have taught us that health and family are the two most important things in our lives. It taught me to stay happy and appreciate every single thing and enjoy every single moment of your life. Dhamaka happened in these two years for me and it became another turning point in my career. From 2022, I expect it to be a bit more considerate towards us. I want to work hard and do a lot more projects and I wish to make my parents proud of me.

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