The actor says he grew up from a boy to a man
Like most newcomers to Bollywood, Sidharth Malhotra came to Mumbai at 18. He started out modelling, but quit after five years to become an actor. He worked as an assistant director to Karan Johar on My Name Is Khan and made his acting debut with KJo’s directorial Student Of The Year a couple of years later. In four years since his debut, he has already completed six films and has started shooting his seventh. The actor tells us why he finds Mumbai so fascinating.
“I came to Mumbai nine years ago on work. My dad was in the Merchant Navy and he used to travel a lot. When he would join his ship from Mumbai, I would come with him. But I came to know and love the city when I came to join Bollywood, wanting to make it here like the millions that come here trying to live their dreams... This brings back so many memories...“
Mumbai versus Delhi
“At first, I found Mumbai so different from Delhi. The people here are more focused on their work, there are many roads, the people here have a vibrant energy, and the building systems (Delhi has more bungalows and two-storeyed houses while Mumbai has multi-storeyed ones). Also, flagging a cab here is far easier here than in Delhi.
“When I came here I stayed at an apartment in Malad (W). I found the system of a lot of societies with families in them and living together interesting, instead of in bungalows or joint families as I was used to, in Delhi.
The energy everywhere was far more focussed — people here are very driven about their work, something or the other is always going on, nobody pauses on the streets to take a breather. In Delhi, people are slightly laidback. Mumbaikars are go-getters!
I would do my work in a day and felt I used lesser time, while in Delhi the whole day would go by slowly. It’s all because of the energy of Mumbai. That was exciting and kept me on my toes. It pushed me and taught me a lot.”
Why I love Mumbai
“It didn’t take me much time to fall in love with the city. There’s so much about it to love! When you are lonely and struggling, it is not the most exciting and fulfilling phase of your life. But it had its plus side... I met many single and ambitious people like me and made some life-long friends. You realise that everyone has a dream like you do, so you don’t feel you are alone. I found that oddly comforting. I have some very supportive friends here, people who have become like my family in Mumbai. We are all individuals who have come from different cities to make Mumbai our home so we help and provide emotional support to each other. It makes life much easier and more liveable. I am pretty lucky that I met some special friends like that who are working in different professions. The only thing in common is that we have all come together from various cities to live and work in this beautiful city called Mumbai. When you are living alone such friends become your family and support system.”
Woh pehli baarish
“People complain about the rains in Mumbai, but it doesn’t bother me at all. I have fallen in love further with the city because of it. To me, the rains clean out the clutter of everything, it’s the cleansing phase for Mumbai. Of course, the monsoon energy is slightly more hectic as there’s waterlogging everywhere, but it’s such a beautiful time to enjoy oneself. I remember my first monsoon in Mumbai. My friend and I had coffee one night at Carter Road and instead of taking an auto, I told my friend, ‘Let’s just walk in the rain!’ It was like a Hindi film rain sequence... It was six years ago, but so memorable even now.”
Cocktail of cultures
“Beggars can’t be choosers (as a struggler, one is on a tight budget) and I used to stay in a rented apartment. I learned a lot through tough conditions, especially about one’s landlord. But what stayed with me is how diverse India is, how Mumbai is a great cocktail of cultures, food and people. I miss that sometimes when I am in Delhi. Also, I found out about the great nightlife in Mumbai. One can hang out till late at night and have coffee at midnight.”
Coming of age
“Also, staying without parental guidance, can give one a sense of freedom which is liberating in its own way. Today, I am in a position to give back to people who need my help. And I have lots of friends too whom I can call when I need their help. But I have also become very independent and self-sufficient today and I owe that to living in Mumbai. Here I grew up from a boy to a man. The whole process of running my own household, handling my finances and staff have all taught me how to become a mature adult. In Delhi, I was used to my family handling almost everything for me.”
“I love the sea and am lucky to be staying next to it. I feel we have a great coastal line, but we don’t use it enough. We need to respect our beaches and shores. I am a water sports junkie and I hope one day, we can go swimming and sailing along our beaches. I am dying to go into the water here. I have many favourite haunts in Mumbai. When I stayed at Juhu beach, I loved going for a run with my dog. I would play with him in the sand. In town, I would go to the Taj Hotel in Colaba, which takes you back to the UK. Bandra, where I stay now, has a great mix of old-school charm (and new as well) with some great international cuisines. One can get a meal at any hour — from milk to meat. You don’t get that in Delhi much.”
Living the dream
“Bollywood gave me a chance to live my dreams and act in movies which is what I wanted since my late teens. Before that, I was a lost child who didn’t have any interest to hang on to. I got my calling as an actor here and now I am obsessed with it. In Delhi, when I told people I wanted to be an actor they would laugh and tell me, ‘Kahaan hero banega tu?’ Yet, today, here I am.”
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