Playing a man who guiltlessly indulges in an adulterous relationship in Gehraiyaan wasn’t an easy task for Siddhant Chaturvedi. The actor confesses his own beliefs about man-woman relationships was quite traditional, inspired by romantic films of Shah Rukh Khan. It was a completely different world for him, which he wasn’t familiar with and did not have the maturity for.
‘I am a huge fan of Shah Rukh Khan, that was my idea of romance’
It was director Shakun Batra who helped Siddhant develop the maturity that was required to play Zain, who falls in love with his fiancee’s cousin (Deepika Padukone) in the film. “The script demanded a maturity. Shakun’s idea about love and life is quite nuanced, he doesn’t like to play to the gallery – something that I have grown up watching. I am a huge fan of Shah Rukh Khan and would love do a romantic comedy like him. This was a different take altogether, very grown-up,” Siddhant said during a recent interaction about the movie.
Talking to co-star Deepika also helped. “Deepika is also very mature, she has been here for 15 years, so talking to her about life and relationships opened up my mind. I understood a lot of things. Main kaafi nadaan tha, but slowly these people groomed me, which complimented the character, by being easy, not making it seem like you are doing a ‘Dharma’ film with ‘Deepika Padukone’. We became friends. The workshops we did in Goa really helped. I had a lot of seniors in the film, so I got a lot of life lessons from it. It’s been a personal growth also for me,” he said.
‘Whatever conditioning I had from Hindi cinema, Shakun Batra broke that’
Siddhant described how Shakun eased him into the character. “He asked me to send him a list of the romantic films I had seen. So I made a list of films like 500 Days of Summer, Veer-Zaara, DDLJ. He saw the list and said, ‘Yeah exactly, this is what you don’t have to do.’ I asked, ‘Phir karna kya hai?’ He said, ‘Iss dunia ko samjho, iss nuance ko samjho.’ And then he sent me a list of films which I had never watched. I watched them and said, ‘Yeh toh galat hai, yeh toh nahi hona chahiye.’ I was judging those situations. And he was trying to take that judgement out of me.
“As an actor, you cannot judge your character. You have to stop looking at your character as an audience, and actually believe in what you are doing. Whatever conditioning I had from Hindi cinema, he broke that. I used say romantic lines like Shah Rukh sir, Bachchan sir or Dilip sir. Shakun told me to break out of that,” Siddhant explained.
‘This felt like doing a Marvel film – too unreal’
The actor explained how the world of Gehraiyaan felt like a fantasy to him. “I come from a very functional family, so all these things like infidelity, etc, were very new to me. It took me some time to understand. Shakun really helped me get out of my judgements. For me, it was more like doing a Marvel film – we’re working in croma and this is not the real world. I have to become a convincing Iron Man or Captain America. It was like Harry Potter for me, I had to believe in this world, this fantasy, which probably exists somewhere. No one shows this world upfront, this exists in your DMs, in your mails, texts, which you keep hidden.
“I used to think all this is not right. This is the first time that I looked at such relationships without the lens of judgement, understand why people do these things. By the end of the film I was feeling bad for my own character. If I wasn’t a part of this film I would have probably judged it. A certain maturity was required which I did not have earlier.”
‘After Gully Boy, I now understand the kind of music my brother likes’
Gehraiyaan is not the time Siddhant was exposed to something new while doing a film. His Bollywood debut, Gully Boy, helped him understand a new world of music. “After playing MC Sher in Gully Boy, I have become more understanding of the kind of music my younger brother makes. Earlier I used to think, what music is this? Listen to Lataji, Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Sonu Nigam, Mohit Chauhan – that is music. From Gully Boy I understood that people choose the kind of art that appeals to them and we should respect that. My brother listens to international music and I also enjoy it now.
“I come from a middle class family, maine zyada dunia dekhi nahi hai. I have started travelling now, after doing films, and realizing that the world is much bigger than the limited exposure I have had,” the actor said.