Kartik Aaryan on controversial dialogues in Pati, Patni Aur Woh, and why 'relatability' is a double-edged sword
'I've been responsible in my past choices as I'm one of the very few actors who've done a film on marital rape,' Kartik Aaryan defends his controversial line in Pati, Patni Aur Woh.
Kartik Aaryan confesses he is in a much better space after delivering a hit with Laxman Utekar's romantic comedy Luka Chuppi. While he met success a long time ago as the lead actor of Luv Ranjan's Pyaar Ka Punchnama franchise, household recognition came knocking on his door only after Ranjan's comedy Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety last year.
"Before Sonu, I was known as either my character name or the guy who speaks very fast. I was also known as the 'monologue guy' (after his popular monologues in the Pyaar Ka Punchnama franchise). But I think Sonu... is a perfect combination of mass appeal and content. So Kartik finally emerged as a household name," he says, claiming the film also got him much-delayed recognition from the Hindi film industry.
"Pyaar Ka Punchama did well, and ran in theatres for over 100 days. Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 did Rs 70 to 80 crore. So both films did well but Sonu... became my first Rs 100 crore movie. The recognition from the industry came then. But validation has come the most from my last film, Luka Chuppi, that released earlier this year. To deliver a hit after the success of Sonu... was a big deal for me," Kartik adds.
It is a strange coincidence that all his successes, minus Luka Chuppi, feature him as a character who has a bone of contention with the women character(s), including his next film, Mudassar Aziz's romantic comedy Pati, Patni Aur Woh, a remake of BR Chopra's original film of the same name from 1978. But Kartik is of the view that Pati, Patni Aur Woh is painted in modern colours. "Nobody is a prop in the film. All the characters, male or female, including the two women, are very strong, confident people. It's an entirely different film with the same name and outline. In fact, people will be surprised to watch the film as they won't see an angle coming. The trailer is full of comic stuff to grab eyeballs but the film is much more."
Kartik claims while he has done a range of films, the ones that have worked and stayed with people involve some kind of one-upmanship with the women. "I've done a lot of women-led films, like Akaash Vani (2013, Luv Ranjan), Kaanchi: The Unbreakable (2014, Subhash Ghai), and the short film for ZEE5, Silvat (2018, Tanuja Chandra). But the films that have worked have always presented me in this light. I hope Luka Chuppi changed that. And I hope Pati, Patni Aur Woh also changes that since it has two strong female characters (played by Bhumi Pednekar and Ananya Panday)."
Out of all the films he has signed, Kartik points out that there is a commonality he seeks whenever he hears the script. "I look for relatability. Even if it's a fantasy, there has to be some amount of relatability with my character. That's why my character often tends to speak in a way that's not vanilla. But that's how people speak today, and I'm just reflecting that. The language, when found relatable, adds flavour to the writing."
Relatability, however, is a double-edged sword, especially when merged with success. Since he has both the reach and relatability now, the chances of Kartik's dialogues in films or quotes in real life getting misconstrued by both the media and the audience are extremely high. The most recent example of the same was when a dialogue mouthed by his character Chintu Tyagi in the trailer of Pati, Patni Aur Woh was criticised for allegedly endorsing marital rape.
"We never realised that dialogue could be interpreted that way. We showed it to so many people as trials but none of them pointed that out. Having said that, I do realise where those who got offended came from. All of us did. That's why we made changes to the dialogue and rectified it in the film. It's not crucial to our film so we did away with it. Had we not been responsible, we would've kept it in the film and trailer.
"But I've been responsible in my past choices as I'm one of the very few actors who has done a film on marital rape (Akaash Vani). That film didn't work at the box office so no one gave me the credit at that time."
Kartik clarifies his Pati, Patni Aur Woh is merely a tribute to the original film, which was backed by the same production house, BR Films. "No one can take the place of Sanjeev Kumar. He has left a void in Hindi cinema. I hope when people remember me, they also look at my career in a similar manner. I'm just trying to pay a tribute, like I did to Govinda in the rehashed version of 'Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare' (from 1998 comedy Dulhe Raja) in this film. His and Raveena (Tandon) ma'am's steps can't be matched anyway. But it was great fun as our song was choreographed by Farah Khan. She is very filmy. I had such a nice tuning with her. We used to get each other's actions on set. I've grown up on these songs."
He refutes the reports floating around online that Govinda is miffed with the new version of his song. "I haven't heard any such thing. Do you have a quote? Or is it just a question mark? I've seen Sanju! You can't fool me. Haha!"
Kartik is doing a lot of sequels next year. While Pati, Patni Aur Woh is a remake, 2020 will see him headline three sequels, the Imtiaz Ali romantic drama opposite Sara Ali Khan (tentatively titled Aaj Kal, reportedly a remake of Imtiaz's 2009 film Love Aaj Kal), Collin D'Cunha's romantic comedy Dostana 2 (opposite Jahnvi Kapoor, that he is currently filming), and Anees Bazmee's horror comedy Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (opposite Kiara Advani).
While he maintains it is difficult to pick the one he is most excited about, he is looking forward to his next outing, the Imtiaz Ali film. "I've changed as an actor and a person after working with Imtiaz sir. My process and approach have changed too. In fact, I cried on the last day of the shoot since the experience of shooting for this film was very special."
The Imtiaz Ali film (title to be announced soon) is still a couple of months away since it releases on 14 February (Valentine's Day). Before that, Kartik's box office momentum will stand to test with a film he admits he is very confident about.
Pati, Patni Aur Woh hits theatres this Friday on 6 December.
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