With mentor Karan Johar backing the ambitious drama and frequent co-star Alia Bhatt by his side, one would assume that Kalank was home turf for Varun Dhawan. However, the actor views the multi-starrer as one of his most emotionally draining films. Since the Abhishek Verman-directed venture marks his first period drama, Dhawan says he initially struggled to understand the film’s universe as well as his character, Zafar.
“Since it was a period film, initially, I could not identify with my character. Zafar is the way he is because of certain incidents that have happened during his childhood. So during the prep, I would sit with Abhishek for two hours and talk about Zafar and his back story. There is an air of arrogance to him. It was difficult to pick that up because I haven’t played such a role so far,” says the actor.
It is known that Johar holds Kalank close to his heart – it was the brainchild of his father Yash Johar. The film was originally conceived in the early 2000s with Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Kajol and Rani Mukerji in lead roles. Recounting his first brush with the story that has now been brought alive by Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sonakshi Sinha, Dhawan says, “I had first heard about this film when Abhishek and I were working on My Name Is Khan (2010). At that time, we had never thought that some day, he would direct the film and I would be part of it.”
While stepping into Khan’s shoes can be a tall order, Dhawan says he brought his own interpretation to the role. “I didn’t speak to Shah Rukh sir about how I should approach the role. [However], I met him last week. He told me that he liked the teaser. He also appreciated the work that I am doing and said that my movie choices will bring me closer to the audience.”