Sidharth is all set to dazzle us with his role of a street fighter in his upcoming film Brothers. He talks about his equation with Akshay Kumar on set, his relationship with his real brother and more...
Sidharth Malhotra is not just another pretty boy. The actor, who shared the spotlight with Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan in his debut film, has proved he’s more than man candy. He’s made it and it’s not by luck or by chance. His choice of films are interesting, and studied. He’s confident enough to be part of a female-centric film like Hasee Toh Phasee and share space with a co-actor — Riteish Deshmukh in Ek Villain. He may not have done as many films as Alia and Varun, but his journey is different. He chooses to be different and that’s his USP. He may have drawn flak for signing up a two-hero film with an established actor like Akshay Kumar, but the decision has paid off. The buzz around the film that releases this week, is phenomenal. Here he talks about Brothers and more. Read on...
One a scale of one to 10, how exhausting was shooting for Brothers?
Twelve! There was much stress… The stress to match up with Akshay Sir, his action persona, and doing marital arts — which is his home ground — with him. He knows kicking and punching since years and I have no such background. The stress of looking convincing, the stress of looking like a person who has a certain presence of a guy who can physically hurt him. In that sense, both Karan (Malhotra, director) and I were aware of that. So they made me gain 10 kilos and made Akshay lose 10 kilos. And from there on, I felt happy that the physical transformation would make the character believable. I took four months off and did nothing, but just trained for this film.
That must’ve meant losing out on a lot of work...
Yes, but I think that’s paying off now. There’s no way an actor can keep gaining weight for a film, and doing other things at the same time. I used to train five-six hours a day with international trainers, then with my gym trainer, then for the recovery ice bath... So those four months were a great transformation phase where I ate, lived and breathed my character. Just like these fighters do and that’s what makes it a little convincing. He (Akshay) already having a background made it easier for him. For me, starting from scratch was difficult, but I think people will see the end product.
There was no insecurity when you did nothing for those four months and other actors were signing films, doing shows, shooting for endorsements, etc?
That, of course, but I didn’t feel it at that time. When I told Reshma (Shetty, his manager), about taking a break to train she said, ‘Oh, when do you want to start and finish?’ I said this will go on till four months. Her reaction was, “What!” I said “It’s a big film, what’s the point of giving it a half-hearted attempt because of our schedule. I said I have got a great opportunity and I will be stupid to miss it.” Now, maybe, in retrospect people say, ‘You missed out on other activities because you didn’t do anything.’ I didn’t do ads, I didn’t do any events, very few, because the look was also such I was not fitting into any clothes, I was getting bigger and broader everyday. And I am already big. Now I think, it all pays off this Friday. So then it’s quality over quantity, I am happy.
During the shoot of the film, Akshay stopped going out completely because it was so physically exhausting. Did that happen with you as well?
Oh yes. There were certain days where I was required to shoot slightly longer than him also. Akshay sir was there from seven to two and lunch time because he didn’t want to take any break, so we used to shoot nonstop. I used to take a lunch break and then we used to shoot till six. I had a longer shift. Obviously he has earned that space. There was a difference between our time on the set, which is fair enough. So, during the making of Brothers, I went into more of a shell because there was no time for socialising or even interacting with the family. There were days when I would come home and pass out even without eating. My cook was worried for me. He used to say, “khana nahi kha rahe aur so jaate hain.” I would just drink a shake and just crash. That phase for the latter half of last year was a space where I totally went into a shell. I anyway don’t get out much, and people were like, ‘Where the f**k is he? Don’t really know kya kar raha hai.’ When they would see me somewhere they would say ‘aare tum ne daddi kab ugali’. I met Salman (Khan) and Hrithik (Roshan) at Arpita’s wedding and it took a while for them to recognise me. I was wearing a suit, I looked even older with the beard wearing one big achkan. Hrithik looked at me and said ”shit what happened to you?” That reaction excited me, so yes that phase of going into a shell I feel was required. It pays off when you live in that zone for 24 hours.
Method acting is big in Hollywood...
Yes, they take their one film and do that and the impact is seen. See luck is different but if you put in hard work, it always gets you good returns. See with Akshay sir also in his career, he has done so much and it has given him back. I believe in the same, and it is paying off so far. I think that should be a trend for at least younger actors. Financially, if we are strong why we can’t do one film in a year? And give the role everything that it demands.
What sort of relationship do you share with your older brother?
He is six years older than me and we have obviously grown up in the same house, in the same room so we had lot of fights. And it’s tougher to beat somebody up when you are ten and he is 16. He was stronger, so the easiest thing I could do, was scratch him. That’s the quickest because I couldn’t hurt him so I used to scratch him hard during fights. And he used to have marks and my mom thought his girlfriend. (Grins) So, we have had a regular upbringing. I think in the late teens brothers don’t want to see each other, So I was in my own zone, I was 13 and he was 19. When I was 16, he was 22, and he was like I don’t want to hang out with you. I think we are more connected now. I think siblings bond more when they are men, rather than as boys. Today, also I feel much more settled and older. I am thirty today and he is thirty six and he has a family. He has a child. So, now we bond in a different way we have an emotional bond much more than we did before.
What were most of the fights with your brother over?
When I was young, random things.. about wearing his T shirt, tearing his T shirt, not leaving the room when he wants to talk on the phone to his girl friend, and me trying to get the phone from him to talk to my girlfriend, then waking up in the night where one wanted to study and the other wanted to sleep. I was very bad in studies and he would complain to mom. So, we have done the most weirdest and bizarre things you know when you live with somebody. I was so pissed off with him once he had beaten me up when we were fighting and obviously there was little blood all over my face. I went to the loo to wash my face and I was so pissed. The first thing I saw was his tooth brush and I picked up the tooth brush, put it inside the commode and put it back in its place.
That’s so cruel!
(Laughs) I told him after a week. Put yourself in my place, you are so angry, you are the weaker one and your sibling is six years older so then what do you do? You can’t physically hurt him… So the only thing I was doing for my satisfaction was being a sadist.
In Brothers, you and Akshay stop talking to each other. Off-screen how are you likely to react to an issue with your brother?
I used to shut down. Actually, I think most men do that. We tend to keep things in our hearts about what upset us because I think genetically or whatever it is, we are just programmed that way. It’s very similar to this film also. Two men don’t really talk about their issue till the very end, till the climax you see ke problem kya hai. You realise what is hurting them and why is he so angry and why is the other one so pissed off with him. So I think the same way, but learning is growing up, as is communicating. Initially I would really keep it inside. I would be giving subtle hints and insults and fight and snap but now I think we both are grown up and he is on the same page.
Who is more mature of the two?
Actually it’s a big toss up because even though he is married, we have done enough stupidity and now we are pretty cool. Now he parties with me and we hang out. But I think he is more mature.
Your dad’s reaction when you said you wanted to be an actor?
My father reacted in the sense that ‘are you sure about it?’ He was a bit confused. I told him when I was 19 or 20. He was not really aware of it. Then he had no idea, kaise karenge, kya hoga. He couldn’t get the connection between me saying I wanted to be an actor and it actually happening. I was modelling by then. But modelling doesn’t mean any surety. So I think he didn’t believe me. It was disbelief ke bakwaas kar raha hai, bol raha hai bachaa, he is a child, let him be happy and there was no such conviction or believing the fact that I would make it. From there I think he has come a long way to be really proud now. He is retired now and become old, he was posing in front of a Brothers poster in a mall and he sent me a picture. I am flying him down on the 12th and he will see the film with me. I have not seen the film yet. I feel responsible that roles have reversed between me and my dad, so I don’t look back at the time when my dad didn’t believe it. I am enjoying the time when my dad is really happy and proud.
Did your brother know about your aspirations?
Ya of course he was aware. He used to look at me and comb my hair in the mirror ke ‘Kya hero ban raha hai.” I never used to study so he used to keep teasing. He is like ‘you know what you have to acquire these skills, it’s not that easy.’ He has seen much more of my filmy side.
How was it shooting the Mary song with Kareena Kapoor
Kareena and I sadly have only one song and in that song also, all I had to do is not look into her. It was the toughest thing for me because Karan Malhotra said that I had to be in character —brooding, aggressive fighter and someone who doesn’t really pay attention to a girl. So then I was questioning, ‘why was I in this place, it’s like “main kyon aaya hai idhar.’ In fact, I wanted to look at her. So there were many retakes when she was right there doing her charming dancing seductive moves and that time the most natural thing was look at the girl but I was told not to look at her. Looking the other way was the toughest thing I had to do. We have taken many retakes because I kept looking at her. So I had to go through against my natural instinct and ignore Kareena Kapoor’s sexy avatar. She has done a fab job. She loves what she does, it shows she eats and breathes this and she is just so happy on set. I think her team, her way of working, her whole vibe is amazing. I think somebody should make a film on her off camera.
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