Kartik Aaryan: You can't ignore me anymore
After Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety's success, Kartik Aaryan says he hopes to enter the big league in an industry once hesitant to invest in him
The image of a conniving Kartik Aaryan badmouthing a woman in his recent hit Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is far removed from the first one I have of him - a gharelu boy fetching his mother breakfast at a Dubai hotel, where we were attending an awards gala together. While other actors had a horde of women for company, Aaryan walked hand-in-hand with his mommy, proudly planning a day in the desert city and at malls with his 'date'.
Kartik Aaryan, Nushrat Bharucha and Sunny Nijar in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety
I knew then that Aaryan has a mind of his own. Even though then trying to establish himself among the A-league, he cared little of what the world thought of him. Just about as much as he did when they constantly rebutted him for signing on similar roles ever since he debuted with Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011). "Have you ever considered that maybe, I want to be repetitive? Maybe, I have a different agenda?" In the midst of celebrating the success of his latest release, Aaryan opens up on the 'plan' behind stereotyping himself, and defends the derogatory tone used against women in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.
While watching this film, I interacted with a family that had come to see it for the 10th time. Could you decode the reason behind this unexpected craze for the film?
I did not know the film had such a high repeat value. The madness [people are showcasing] for this project is of another level; even the Punchnama series didn't achieve this feat. With this film, I feel everything is falling in place for me. It is testament to the fact that relatable content sells. The characters have a recall value. People can see themselves or their stories unveil on screen. This film's selling point is its bromance. I suppose people felt that if they don't have a selfless friend, there's a void in their life. It makes them cherish friendship.
How do you defend the criticism against the film's undertone, which is evidently derogatory towards women?
When we started Punchnama [which also had a similar undertone] people cited the same concern. But, no one remembers that my second film, Akaash Vaani (2013), was a love story which saw me take a stand for the woman I love. The film had a social message, but it didn't work. So, people also need to make a note of what they appreciate. Sometimes they take movies too seriously. For this film, there were more positive reactions than negative. We aren't showing women in bad light. After all, we are the same team that made Akaash Vani. No one celebrated our great message then. Why can't we see stories from the perspectives with which they are narrated? This is Sonu, Titu and Sweety's story, narrated from Sonu's perspective. It's fiction, just a movie. We aren't propagating anything. People should enjoy it.
You were part of a short film called Silvat, which had Tanuja Chandra at the helm. Do you think that could've been an image-changer for you had it released?
The choices I'm making are ones that I've carefully planned. Certain things don't work at the box office, and I have no qualms in admitting that some of the choices I made were wrong. But every move was calculated. My career started at the age of 20, and a six-film-old actor shouldn't be stereotyped. The industry is sending me some amazing scripts. But I want to do youthful films and become popular among the young generation. Seventy per cent of the theatre-going audience comprises the county's youth. I want them to like me, back me. We are all growing up together. Sonu has done more for me than Silvat could have. The role had a commercial vibe. He dances, he is street smart, but he is also capable of taking decisions which will change the life of his friend and him. In 10 days, the film has emerged as a table-turner.
Do you feel that today, you are a bankable star?
For me, 2017 saw limited releases. So, money coming in from a movie like this changes a lot. I hope that now onwards, I am perceived as someone who can shoulder a film on his own. Log ab katrate kam hai [Industry bigwig are less hesitant to place their bet on me.] People have seen my journey. It's finally my time. No one can ignore me. I have often been told that I have talent, but it's difficult to invest in me. Now, I think the industry will open up to the idea of making a big budget film with me.
Have you signed a film yet?
Ab woh toh suspense hai (laughs...)