By his own admission, Sidharth Malhotra has an alter ego that wants to hit people. It’s no wonder then that the Bollywood actor thoroughly enjoyed shooting for A Gentleman that releases this Friday. “Being a struggling actor, there have been many people in the past that I’d like to beat up,” he laughs adding how a rude line from A Gentleman — “Jhund hai meri life bhen***d” — perfectly summed up his initial days in Mumbai. Like most migrants that flock to the city, the 32-year-old too roughed it out when he moved from Delhi. “[Old] roomates have become family, so not them. Maybe some landlords,” he says. “There was so much rejection, the rent and then stress about the next job. Things have changed. Now I’m just pretending to be that character. At that time, I was living it.”
Directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., A Gentleman is the quintessential popcorn flick with plenty of action, chases, witty one-liners and of course a love story. The film revolves around a case of mistaken identity which has Malhotra playing a double role. As Rishi, he’s a suave and slick killing machine whose personality is more in line with the actor. Plus, he got a chance to bring out that dormant alter ego to fight people left, right and centre. “The action in the film is very real, it’s not larger-than-life where I touch somebody and he flies,” says the actor who loves picking up a sport and is a big outdoors person. He was all too eager to have to learn martial art skills for the film. “It was great to train and rapple down a 60-storey building in Miami. I was literally doing it myself,” says the actor beaming while reminiscing about the sequence. “And there was a [great] bike chase in Bangkok. I feel so happy that I get paid [to do stuff like this]. It was a nice mix of everything I wanted to do: acting and fun adventure activities.” But portraying the second character, Gaurav, in the film was more enjoyable because of their disparate natures. “I didn’t relate to his obsession with cooking and keeping things tidy,” he says incredulously. “He drives a minivan and has learned how to cook. All he’s waiting for is a wife!”
Honing his craft
Malhotra may be just six films old in Bollywood but he’s deliberately steered clear of being pigeon-holed into one genre. He’s come a long way from playing Abhimanyu Singh in this frothy debut, Student of the Year (2012). Take for instance, the ruthless killer Guru Divekar inEk Villain (2014) or Monty Fernandes in the sports drama Brothers (2015) and a young middle-class boy Arjun in the dramedyKapoor and Sons (2016). “I am in a very interesting phase, I’ve done enough work to have an instinct of my own and have an understanding of the business. I am enjoying the craft much more,” he says talking about how important it is for an actor to be versatile when selecting projects. “We’re competing with so many other mediums. The future of filmmaking is to make the canvas bigger, something you can’t enjoy on your phones or computers.”
His choice of roles so far has been calculated and Malhotra is extremely satisfied with the films he’s done. The next few months will see the release of Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary, a thriller based on the true story of two army men where he will co-star alongside Manoj Bajpayee. Then there’s also Ittefaq that’s a remake of the 1969 film about a man who escapes a psychiatric facility and ends up becoming embroiled in a web of murder, lies and deceit.
On and off camera
In the next few years, Malhotra wants to continue experimenting with genres and characters. He’s also keen to get behind the camera. “I’ve gotten to see what happens behind the camera and there’s an amazing energy with so many people coming together to make a film,” he says. “The process of execution is something that I like, it’s exciting to write something on paper and then see it on screen.”
On a parting note, he reveals that there’s one role he’s determined to portray. “Something like a James Bond character,” then he quickly adds, “or a darker superhero like Batman, I wouldn’t want to touch that franchise though but maybe our desi version like Chamgadar Man!”