The Family Man: 'Jugjugg Jeeyo' star Varun Dhawan keeps it simple after massive hit

Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan on why success stems from happiness and how the pandemic gave him a new perspective on  life that he has carried into his latest release, Jugjugg Jeeyo
A still of Varun Dhawan from Jugjugg Jeeyo
A still of Varun Dhawan from Jugjugg Jeeyo

Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan is in the ‘attitude of gratitude’ mode. He seems to have no time for anything but retweeting compliments about his latest Bollywood release, Jugjugg Jeeyo. ‘Shukriyas’, heart emojis and high-fives are flying all around as the family drama clocks up the box-office numbers. An ensemble cast of Anil Kapoor, Neetu Singh, and Kiara Advani, of course, is the icing on the cake. The pandemic put many films on shaky ground, but Dhawan appears to be in the green zone. His last release––Coolie No 1––was in December 2020 on Prime Video. A successful theatrical release ––`9.8 crore collection at the box office on the release day itself––therefore, seems sweeter.

JugJugg Jeeyo is a story set in the heart of Patiala and much like the city, it’s full of love and laughter, colour and drama. It’s about family and its values, unresolved yearnings, and unexpected reconciliations. The Raj Mehta directorial, which was released late last month, is produced by Viacom18 Studios and Dharma Productions. The 35-year-old actor, son of Bollywood director David Dhawan, says the last two years have helped him develop a new philosophy in life. 

“I have to keep going, but I no longer want to work in a stressed atmosphere. I want to have fun on the professional and personal front. The break did me good and I could introspect on my life. When you are not successful you are looked down upon, failure hurts you. You tend to run after success so much so that you start ignoring the relationships around you. You forget to enjoy life as well as success. This can harm your acting as well. You need to be happy to give your best,” he says.

Has the movie about family dynamics changed him as a person to give him new insights into life? It was not the film, but the pandemic which taught him to value relationships, he feels. “I watched death closely during that time and my love for my family has increased multifold. I don’t take anything for granted. The moments that I spent with my father are priceless.”

Reminiscing about his childhood, Dhawan says, “I remember my father would get worked up if I was suffering from fever and I wondered why he was so restless. I was a child obsessed with GI Joe toys. During other times, my quota was one toy a week. When I was ill, he brought me a room full of toys.  Now I realise how important your dear ones are to you and why we panic when they are ill. Now I panic whenever they are not well. I understand what they went through when I was a kid.” Dhawan is also a doting uncle to his brother Rohit’s children.

His marriage to long-time beau and fashion designer Natasha Dalal in January 2021 has also done him a world of good. “We are still learning and discovering new things about each other. She forgets that this is her home now and I have to keep reminding her about it. I feel I have grown older and my responsibilities have increased now. I am trying to keep her happy and often say sorry to her,” he confesses. 

Working in movies with an ensemble cast has its own advantages. Dhawan can’t stop raving about working with veterans such as Anil Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor. “This is my first film with them, I have known them since childhood, but not as an actor. I had to bond with them differently and create my own relationship. Neetuji has a great maternal persona. She used to take care of us and constantly feed us on the sets. Anil sir is full of Masti and loves to keep a healthy enjoyable atmosphere on the sets.”

Dhawan is considered one of India’s highest-paid actors and he has been featured on Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list since 2014. According to trade pundits, he has starred in 11 consecutive box-office successes between 2012 and 2018. Men’s magazine GQ featured him among the nation’s 50 most influential young people and labelled him as the “most bankable star of his generation” in 2018. The actor who made a splashy debut as the rich and handsome student Rohan Nanda in Student Of The Year in 2012 has been rather consistent in his career and has lots to look forward to.

He has wrapped up director Amar Kaushik’s Bhediya. Up next he has Bawaal, a horror-comedy opposite Janhvi Kapoor, directed by Nitesh Tiwari. He starts shooting for the next schedule in Poland and Amsterdam in a few weeks. Looking back at his decade-long career, what does he feel? “That I look much younger than my co-stars. I recently told Janhvi Kapoor that I will look younger than her even after 10 years,” he jests. Looking younger and happier certainly seems to be working out for him.

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