In an industry that’s infamous for being nepotistic, here’s a young man who is rising up the ranks without the help of a godfather or any sort of backing. It’s purely his talent that has brought Siddhant Chaturvedi this far in Bollywood, and his strikingly handsome face has not hurt either. After he was first noticed in the web series, Inside Edge, Siddhant was cast in Gully Boy as MC Sher, and with his portrayal as Murad’s mentor, he won the hearts of millions. Gully Boy turned out to be Siddhant’s breakout film and put him in the spotlight overnight.
Now, with the release of Gehraiyaan, in which he is cast opposite one of the biggest stars in Bollywood, Deepika Padukone, Siddhant is consolidating his position as one of the hottest and most dependable Bollywood lead actors in the making. Gehraiyaan, which released today, explores the subject of modern-day relationships and Siddhant plays the role of Zain. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this film about two young couples comes at the right time.
Zain, an ambitious young man falls in love with his fiancé Tia’s (played by Ananya Panday) cousin Alisha (portrayed by Deepika Padukone). Although it may seem like a typical love triangle, Siddhant reveals there’s a lot more to it. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it. This is the story of people my age but I haven’t seen anything like this. Hindi cinema has always portrayed a heightened idea of love, but Gehraiyaan is the most human Indian film in recent times. When I say ‘human,’ I am talking about the real emotions that you tend to hide or ignore. The film questions choices. It’s an urban love story. It’s not another story about Raj and Simran running away. This narrative deals with what happens after that,” says the actor. Gehraiyaan challenges the conventional and dated idea of love — one where one’s first love is put on a pedestal.
However, Siddhant reminisces about idolising the stereotypical Bollywood heroes while growing up. “We have all been conditioned with this idea. I have grown up watching films that portrayed it, particularly romcoms. I am a big fan of such movies — particularly of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan films. But Gehraiyaan is different and when you know that you haven’t seen anything like this, it’s difficult to take it all in. When I heard the script, in the presence of Shakun (Batra, director) and Karan (Johar, producer), I said ‘yes’ to it. But I didn’t know how I would do it. It is a very mature and nuanced story,” he offers.
Shakun, who has made exceptional movies such as Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and Kapoor & Sons, which have redefined the way audiences look at modern and urban characters, assured Siddhant that it will be a journey that will help him evolve and grow not only as an actor but also as a human being. The world that the director had created drew Siddhant into it completely. “I used to share notes, and then I drew an emotional chart of my character. I would share this experience with Shakun. He would keep tweaking my approach. It was all his genius. Zain’s character is very different from what I have played before and he is unlike all the characters I have ever seen on screen. The irony is that the character is very real,” says Siddhant.
All the characters in the film, from Zain to Alisha, Tia, and Dhairya, seem like regular people who could be part of your friends’ circle, at your workplace, or even on dating apps. What makes them appear all the more real is their emotions of guilt, anger, exasperation, helplessness, and desire — all put together. “We all go through different phases in life. We make different choices — both good and bad. Sometimes we think that we have screwed up and we feel guilty but we also experience love and attraction. So, I think Zain is as human as anyone else. As much as his character is different and new, because of the emotions he goes through, I think a lot of people in the audience will relate to him. It’s up to them whether they hate him or love him. We are not portraying him as black or white, it’s up to the audience how they perceive him,” he explains.
The conversation around this movie will be incomplete without the mention of the chemistry between its leading stars. Whether it is Siddhant and Deepika’s sensual scenes or Siddhant and Ananya’s heated exchanges, and Deepika and Dhairya’s arguments as a couple, each one of these pieces fit in like perfect blocks of a puzzle. The leading ladies are starkly different from each other, both in real life and on-screen, and that’s one of the defining aspects of Gehraiyaan. Siddhant romances both of them but his chemistry with them is quite distinct. “On-screen and in real life, my dynamic with both are quite different. We went through a lot of workshops and that helped us become really good friends, and we built a strong base. I felt intimidated by Deepika’s stardom before I met her. Even during the workshops, I was really nervous. However, from day one on the set, until we finished the shoot, I never felt any kind of pressure. She made me feel so comfortable and Shakun also helped us get comfortable with each other. She completely submitted herself to the character, to the director, and her co-actors. On the other hand, Ananya surprised all of us. We have seen her in the bubbly and glam avatar, but in this film, she has so many layers to her and has done a great job,” he shares.
Heart and soul
While on-screen his character is unapologetic about his questionable choices, in real life Siddhant’s principles are in complete contrast to that of Zain. Even though he has a huge female fan following, he says he believes in committing to one woman for life. A sucker for romance, he cites SRK-Preity Zinta-starrer Veer Zara as one of his favourite films. When asked about second chances in love, he retorts, “Second chances in love and life… why only second? Why not third, fourth, fifth… tenth or even eleventh? It’s all your choice. It depends on the person, and is different from one individual to another, and what you want to settle down for. I have an old-school point of view, I believe in one woman for life. That’s why I felt it was difficult for me to understand Zain. Veer waiting in jail for life for Zara, that’s my kind of love. But Gehraiyaan opened my eyes and helped me to remove the judgment. I have done this film and lived the character’s life, so my perspective is different now. Whatever choices you make is all up to you,” he signs off.
Streaming now on Amazon Prime Video