Stepping out of his comfort zone with Dhamaka, Kartik says director’s unusual style of working helped him become the morally corrupt character
A still from Dhamaka
Frothy romantic comedies can wait. For now, Kartik Aaryan has taken a step back from the genre to try his hand at a hard-hitting thriller with Dhamaka. And one of the more able directors in Bollywood is guiding him through the unfamiliar path. “Becoming Arjun Pathak was quite difficult,” begins the actor, who essays the role of a news anchor chasing TRPs while the city of Mumbai is under attack, in the Netflix film.
The first step to embracing the part was to surrender to director Ram Madhvani’s unconventional style of working. “Ram likes to shoot in a certain way; he takes us in a zone [and then lets us explore it as characters]. Also, he does 20-minute takes. So, whenever we’d go back to watch our take, it used to be a long session. Ram had also ensured that the actors were not allowed to meet each other before the shoot.” He says that the process, unsettling as it was initially, has enriched him as an artiste. “My talks with him helped me get into the mind of Arjun Pathak. It was a challenging role, but he walked me through it. It’s an experience I want to relive. It’s not easy to be that honest in front of the camera.”
For an actor who has had more than his share of smitten loverboy roles, the complexity of the won’t-stop-at-anything news anchor was an instant draw. “I enjoyed the fact that Arjun is not vanilla. He is an opportunist, and has shades of grey. His moral compass is [skewed]. It was emotionally draining as the character goes through many [trying] situations. That said, it was an opportunity to utilise all my energy and invest in that role.”
The film, also starring Amruta Subhash and Mrunal Thakur, is an adaptation of the South Korean film, The Terror Live (2013). At the centre of the remake, however, lies a crucial message.
Aaryan adds, “[While being a thriller], the film beautifully shows that your choices [determine] what you gain and lose.”