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It’s A Guy Thing

Sahil Vaid and Gaurav Pandey got their big break with Shashank Khaitan’s Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and also featured in Badrinath Ki Dulhania. Here are Vaid and Pandey in conversation with Rohini Nag Madnani, about their equation with their director, their co-actors Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt

What is the basic difference between the friendship in Badrinath Ki Dulhania and in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, vis-à-vis the lead character?

Sahil Vaid (SV): In Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Poplu, Shonty and Humpty were college friends, not childhood friends. No doubt, that too is a close friendship but it lacks maturity. In Humpty Sharma… we didn’t mind getting beaten up for each other but, in this film, not only do we get beaten up for each other, we beat up each other too when the need arises, to make one another understand certain things.

Poplu and Humpty were college friends but, here, Badri and Somdev are childhood friends. The audience may or may not have noticed but Somdev doesn’t have a family in the film; he is always with Badri, and they are like brothers. In this film, even the kind of friendship that Badri and Somdev develop with Gurmeet is very mature. Not only is the level of friendship in this film much more mature, all the characters in this film are very mature.

I am not saying that Humpty’s characters were not mature but their issues and problems were relatively insignificant, like the girl is unable to buy designer lehenga and the big thing in the film was that the girl buys a car for the boy, which was the interval point. That was a very innocent film. But, in this film, the issues are at a societal level.

Gaurav Pandey (GP): I don’t have a lot to play in this film. In Badrinath… when the story shifts to Singapore, they meet me. I am a sardar who is born and raised in Singapore and I work as a DJ. My girlfriend Akanksha is Vaidehi’s (Alia Bhatt) friend. That is how I meet them. I help Badri and Somdev when they end up in jail.

My character Shonty too had done similar things for them in Humpty… to get information out for them, guiding them… I feel this is the similarity between both the characters. Other than that, as far as screen space and appearance goes, there was a major difference between the two. There is a vast difference in the character sketch with, of course, similarities in nature. And, like he said, the age difference… In that film, we were in our early 20s and here we are in our late 20s. So, in a way, we are a step ahead.

SV: Now bus ye na ho ke third instalment mein hum 40 saal ke character play na kare. (Laughs)

How were both of you approached for the second instalment of the film?

SV: I will tell you how Gaurav got the film. When I first learnt about the sequel and its story, my first question to Shahank was, ‘Is Gaurav doing this film?’ He told me, ‘Although, I would love to have him in this film too, there is no substantial character in the film for Gaurav.’ I was upset that Gaurav would not be part of this film. And when we were approached for the film, the second half was not yet ready.

GP: Shashank sat me down and told me he was planning Badrinath… and I told him that I would love to help with the film, if not in front of the camera then behind the camera.

SV: (Cuts in) Actually, he knew
before I did that I was going to be part of Badrinath…

GP: Shashank was waiting for the right time to reach out to him. He had asked me not to tell Sahil, so I didn’t.

SV: When we finished shooting the first half of the film, we had no clue that we would be going to Singapore to shoot as Shashank was still working on it. As he completed the second half of the film, he called me to read the script as we were about to start shooting for it.

When I read the second half, there was a character of a policeman that I felt would be perfect for Gaurav. But later I found out that there were some changes and the cop was to be played by a woman, and later Gauhar Khan played that part. But the interesting thing is that no one had thought of Gurmeet’s character and auditions for the same were going on.

GP: I got a call from the AD of the film Raj (Mehta). He asked me if I had any pictures of me dressed as a sardar, which I sent him. Then I got a call from Shashank, who told me they had already shot the first half of the film and would be going to Singapore to shoot the second half. He said there was a character they wanted me to play. Shashank explained the character to me and it was an instant yes from me.

SV: And the day I got Badrinath… I was feeling low as I had lost my father only a few days earlier. I remember the phone call… Shashank had called and told me I was doing the film. I was not really happy that I had got such a beautiful film, given the circumstances, but the excitement gradually filtered in. 

What was it like shooting with the same team again?

SV: Varun (Dhawan) and Alia (Bhatt) are a blast to work with. Shashank’s team is a dream to work with and, on top of that, this was a Dharma Productions’ film. The entire team was like a huge family and we had a blast at work. The energy on the sets was so pleasant that you knew the film would turn out well.

BOI: And what was it like working with Alia and Varun again?

GP: The last time, it was a blast, it was like friends hanging out together. We would talk just about everything and had therefore developed a close rapport. It was exactly the same with this film. They both are very chilled and you don’t have to worry about how to behave around them. It was just like a few friends hanging out. They don’t have any airs about who they are and that is why it was so easy to develop a friendship with them, and that comes across on the screen.

SV: It’s like there are walls of clear glass between us. We know our limits as friends; there is a certain respect and trust between all of us.

GP: And the most amazing thing is they felt the same way too. So, if Varun had a problem with how to say a line or two of his, he would ask us for suggestions.

SV: As an actor, that is huge, to be able to respect your co-actors. So it was a give-and-take process. And it wasn’t only Alia, Varun, Gaurav and I that share this trust, it was the same with Shashank. They made us an important part of the team, they trusted our judgment.

There was this one incident… I was tired and sleeping in my room. I am a dubbing artist too, so I usually carry my dubbing equipments with me, and after shooting and dubbing, I was taking a nap. Gaurav, Alia and Varun barged into the room and all three of them jumped on me and woke me up!

GP: I remember, Alia screamed, ‘Ee, Poplu!’. This guy was stunned, wondering if he was dreaming. We were to go out for a movie and were getting late, so we had to wake him up. Varun isko jutte pehena raha tha.

SV: Alia was screaming, ‘Let’s go!’ When I watched everyone run into the lobby, I was stunned ke ye hua kya? I went down and all of them were waiting for me in the car. 

GP: They make you a part of the team so quickly; they have no attitude despite who they are. At the end of the day, we were all just friends. Shashank was the captain of the ship and it was he who made us all feel like family. He made sure everyone ate together.

SV: He is absolutely great at his job; he is a wonderful director too; a brilliant task master; and is an elder brother too. Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania not only started my career but gave me wonderful friends who are like family.

What was life like between Humpty Shamra Ki Dulhania and Badrinath Ki Dulhania?

SV: Everyone started to offer us
similar roles.

GP: You did Bank Chor, which was
not different.

SV: Once people saw us as Delhi lads, they started offering us similar roles. I was approached for a film that even had a similar dialogue. I won’t deny that I didn’t get greedy. I really wanted to sign as many films as possible. But I am glad that Shanoo Sharma saw Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and she offered me a very different kind of role. Yash Raj Films has a policy that if you are doing a YRF film, you cannot do any other film during that time. I was contemplating doing as many films as possible but then Shanoo sat me down and made me realise that I should choose my projects wisely, and put quality over quantity. Even Shashank has advised me to choose my films and I guess, slowly, things will get clearer.

GP: I did YRF’s first web series, Man’s World, and I also did Remo D’Souza’s A Flying Jatt. Remo sir had seen me in advertisements and also in Humpty… They needed someone who looked like Tiger, and I got the part.          

What’s next for you guys?

GP: I might have a film. It’s still in process right now, so fingers crossed. Meanwhile, I am doing a web series.

SV: I have Yash Raj Films’ Bank Chor, which is ready. Other than that, I have dubbing projects. I recently dubbed for Beauty And The Beast, where I dubbed the Beast’s part in Hindi. Previously, I had dubbed for Kong: Skull Island, and I have dubbed for many international artistes.

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