Bollywood newbie Varun Dhawan may be under the assumption that his father-director-producer David Dhawan doesn’t know his feelings for him, but in reality he does, as Varun’s mother shares it all with her husband. David believes his son to be a very naughty yet grounded person with a lot of talent yet to be discovered! The proud father will let his son to get married soon, as he believes that Varun needs to be married to his profession right now. On being asked about Varun’s marriage plans, David immediately said, ‘Salman Khan ab tak shaadi kiya kya? So how can Varun? He can get married once Salman gets married.’ We bring you excerpts of our conversation with the respected director David about his actor son Varun.
How is Varun as a son?
Varun has always been naughty, but is an amazing child. He was never demanding and was happy to play with his toys and his GI Joe till he became big, where he would take his GI Joe to his bathroom while taking a bath. He loves sports and was a good runner. He has his simple friends from school days who are all grounded and he would even today prefer going with his friends to a Shiv Sagar to have a dosa versus going to a fancy place. If he is in the car and I call him and ask him where he is, he will not know. If you ask him what time it is, he will not know. I have never hit him. While I provided for both my sons financially, I never realised when they grew up, as I was very busy in the 90s, perpetually living out of a suitcase. It’s only when my older son Rohit went to the US and Varun to Nottingham that my wife said, ‘David what are you doing?’ And I realised what I had missed as a father. I would talk daily to Rohit and Varun. We thought that Varun would return to work for a bank, but he shocked us on his return when he said he wanted to become an actor. Even though he is doing well now, he is not the materialistic kind and even today, I manage his finances and income tax-related things. He is my friend and he will wrestle on my bed with me as long as just four years back. He would come on my set and help and be happy to be the spot boy. His mother has always kept him grounded. She would take Varun in a rickshaw to play cricket and would manage everything. He is very grounded and respects his elders very well.
Does he show you his emotion?
He shows it very less, but I come to know through his mother. He nearly died when I fell sick while shooting Main Tera Hero. He was crying and was upset with me and was running around, but did not let me know that. But he doesn’t know that I knew. I know that he is concerned about my health.
But for me to return the next day itself from the hospital was important, as in my kind of cinema, by my not being there you could miss a laugh. My wife and sons treat me like a child and don’t allow me to even cross the road. I want to tell them that I have been street-smart and can manage. At heart, I am still a middle-class boy, who loves noise and has come up step-by-step.
What has Varun taken after you?
The best thing I like about him is his passion about work. He has the killer instinct. I was also like that. I too was very competitive, where if you push me against the wall, I will strike back. He is even more competitive than me. I would eat breakfast not knowing whether I would get lunch and lived hand-to-mouth. Iska baap toh David Dhawan hai, mera baap toh koi nahi tha.
How do you find him as an actor?
He met Karan Johar on his own and wanted to assist him as he was starting My Name Is Khan with Shah Rukh and Kajol. Varun wanted to see both these stars act, post which Karan cast him in Student Of The Year. Once, Karan called me to see one of his songs and that was the time I saw him dancing. Seeing him dance, my heart swelled, as he was dancing so well. He has the rhythm, which either you have it or don’t have it. Karan has given him a great launch. I remember the first trial for which Karan called us. Yash Chopraji was sitting at the back and Yashji said, ‘Tera beta kamaal hai’ during the interval. I saw the climax and told Rohit, ‘He is an actor. There is nothing to worry about him’ and I hugged Varun.
You have worked with two of the biggest actors, Govinda and Salman. How does Varun compare as a hero versus them in a David Dhawan film?
It’s very difficult for me to comment on this, but he will join them. I have tried to do the best with him and now it’s up to him what he does. He is a newcomer. He has a long way to go to be where they are. I have made him do the best that a newcomer can do. I get calls asking whether he is available and I feel very proud of him. I also feel happy for my wife Lali, as she goes out feeling proud that she is his mother.
Varun and stars like him have impacted established stars. Likewise, newcomer directors have impacted older directors like you. So in a sense you both are in opposite boats.
How long do you see yourself directing?
My last film Chashme Baddoor was a hit. I will be there till my shoes are on.
Do you see Varun getting married?
No, I don’t see him getting married. I will take the daylights out of him if he was to. He is married to only his profession at the moment. Salman Khan abhi tak shaadi kiya kya?
How do you find Ekta Kapoor as a producer?
She is a very aggressive producer. She has a pulse of the market and understands the audience and scripts. She is very today. She knows how to market her film and goes all for it.
Does the fact that Varun is in the film add to your stress?
I enjoyed working with him but there is box office pressure. My track record is hit with all my films. So I must prove myself with Varun, otherwise people will say, ‘Ghar mein kya kiya apne?’ It has been over 25 years of being a director. I feel it is payback time now and I am enjoying this phase more than any other phase in my life. Maybe it’s because my sons are with me. Rohit has been with me from the birth of this film. I wanted him to direct this film, but he felt this was completely my kind of film. But he selected locations for me and was with me throughout and looked after me selflessly. He is my Shravan Kumar.