Harsh Varrdhan: I'd rather do quality films

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Not your typical star kid enjoying the limelight, Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor enjoys being unconventional. Despite being Anil Kapoor’s son, and coming from a film family, he didn’t debut with a masala entertainer, instead opting for a romance ‘Mirziya’. Refusing to be typecast, Harsh then surprised fans with his turn as a vigilante in ‘Bhavesh Joshi’, and near-natural act in ‘AK versus AK’. In a candid tête-à-tête with ETimes, Harsh opens up about films, box office success, and why he changed the spelling of his name. Excerpts:

Did you anticipate the applause that you received for your cameo in ‘AK versus AK’?
It has been unbelievable! It has blown my mind really because when I was shooting for it, I never anticipated that two scenes would garner so much critical acclaim. So many people from the industry have called me. Vicky Kaushal spoke to me about how much he loved the scene and even Alia (Bhatt) messaged me saying that she and Ranbir (Kapoor) saw the scene and absolutely loved it, which meant a lot to me. I’m just very, very grateful, and very surprised, to be honest.

A couple of years ago you changed the spelling of your name. Has it helped?
It was just for my mom because she believes in astrology. I don’t really believe in these things too much, to be honest. I was very happy with ‘Bhavesh Joshi’ even before all of this happened, so I don’t really know how much it helps. But I don’t like to argue with my mother; when she says to do something, I just listen to her and do it.

How important is box office success for you?
To tell you the truth, I often think about this. People are still talking about ‘Bhavesh Joshi’, and even ‘AK versus AK’ earned me praise, so these two films are liked by a certain audience. But sadly, ultimately the reach is a very important factor and you can’t completely deny its importance. Now ‘Bhavesh Joshi’ has become a cult, but when it had released, no one watched it in the theatres. So, hypothetically, if that film would have earned Rs 50 crore, then things would’ve been very different. So, I think that element is important but I can’t do something that I don’t believe in, in order to accelerate that process. I’m too strong-headed; I need to do passion projects for me to be happy. I’d rather do quality films, even if they impact a smaller audience rather than do something that I half believe in, that I’m doing just to climb the ladder of box office success. It’s kind of a two-way street, but at the same time, I do have one eye on it. And I think the Bindra biopic is going to be a big theatrical release, so, the idea is to keep doing good roles, and then maybe one of those films also reaches out to a wider audience.

So, when you say you want to do passion projects, is it that you don’t want to do masala entertainers ever?
Honestly, I didn’t grow up watching those films. I think that it is very important to associate with those movies when you’re young and growing up to be able to be good at them. I think Varun (Dhawan) is so good at that, he sells in that genre. I remember watching ‘Main Tera Hero’, he was very funny in it and it is not easy to make people laugh. But I think he loves that genre, so, he excels in it, I think for me, my interests are a bit different and the kind of films that I’ve grown up on is a bit different. So it has to excite me at the end of the day.

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You come from a family of actors. Do you feel more pressure to perform?
I don’t really know because the thing is that I don’t think that it’s something that I can waste time thinking about. Because it’s just going to derail my work. When my father was doing ‘Woh Saat Din’, I don’t think he was thinking about what his career was going to be like 40 years later. He was just thinking that I need to be good in this role, then whatever happens after that, happens. In the last year, how we consume entertainment, art, and what constitutes a star, has changed and is continuously changing. When my father became such a big superstar in the ’80s-’90s, even he didn’t know what it’s going to be like to be a star in 2020. So I don’t know what it’s going to be like to be a star in 2040, so why should I kill myself trying to think about it now? I might as well just put my head down, work really hard on my roles, try and get into character as much as possible and try to leave an impact with the parts that I play; stardom has to be a consequence of that. It can’t be a strategised master plan.

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