Kartik Aaryan is the superstar on the rise. His latest release, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 has brought in glad tidings for the cash-strapped Hindi film industry. It has earned over 100 crores within the first ten days of its release and is enjoying tremendous word-of-mouth publicity. It has brought the family audience back to the theatres. There’s a genuine buzz amongst the audience for the film and that indeed is good news for the entire industry. Man is a creature of habit and the Hindi industry needed a product to make the masses pick up the habit again. The Kartik Aaryan starrer is proving to be just that. The actor is grateful for everything his film has achieved and is hoping to reach higher echelons in time to come. He shares his happiness with Filmfare in an exclusive interview…
Your movie Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 had the biggest opening this year? What do you have to say about that?
I feel extremely grateful to the audience for this historical opening! As an actor, my biggest motivation has been to entertain the audience, and the love that’s been pouring in from the masses is not only encouraging but also validating on so many levels. This is not just a celebration for the Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 team but for the Hindi film industry as a whole, and we are so happy that the film has been embraced the way it has.
Does that put extra pressure on you for the future?
The day I start overthinking and get pulled down by the economics of the business or the pressure of expectation, I will no longer be able to concentrate on my job, which is trying to deliver the best possible entertainment and performance I can.
The industry is saying that Kartik Aaryan saved the industry. Do you think so?
I’m flattered and humbled by that statement. However, I have miles to go and lots more to do. I’m currently enjoying this phase in my career and the results it yields only encourage me to push the envelope a little more.
How would you look back on your journey so far?
It’s been a roller coaster ride… Every step of this journey has been a learning experience, and I feel extremely lucky to be getting the opportunities to do some incredible work and take on such different characters with every single film.
How would you analyze your career so far?
I feel like I have just started my journey and I have miles to go. I feel I have lots more to do, much more to learn, a lot of scope to grow, and this is only the beginning! My aim is to become the number one actor in the industry. So I am working double hard now. Currently, I feel extremely lucky to be in a position where directors and producers are trusting me with their subjects. So I will continue to do my job, entertain the masses, and inch towards my goal until then, the show must go on.
What made you sign the film? Was it a difficult decision considering the first one was such a huge hit?
Honestly, I was given the script first without knowing what film it was for, and I was immediately on board because I loved this script. And then when I found out that it was for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, that was a major cherry on top. I had watched Bhool Bhulaiyaa when I was in school and I couldn’t even have imagined then ki iski kabhi sequel banegi and I would be offered the role, so when that happened, it felt surreal and it was a huge honor to be a part of this iconic franchise and it was a huge responsibility as well. I’m glad that people are being entertained by our work.
Did you feel nervous about stepping into Akshay Kumar’s shoes?
Akshay (Kumar) sir is a legend and no one can do what he does. I have grown up watching him. I always look up to him. I love him as an actor and as a person. I never took on that pressure to step into his shoes because those are some really big shoes to fill. But from my end, I tried my best to deliver on the faith that Anees sir and the producers had in me with this completely new film, new character and script, which has some elements from the world of Bhool Bhulaiyaa to give you that nostalgia.
Your thoughts on being a part of such a huge franchise…
It is a surreal feeling to be associated with a franchise that my friends and I all loved growing up. It is like a dream that I couldn’t even have dreamt came true.
The song Hare Ram has taken the country by storm… What do you have to say about that?
I was just overwhelmed to see the way the title track took over the country. It was trending on YouTube from the moment it came out and was the most viewed video worldwide, so just seeing that kind of response was really amazing. It has crossed 100 million views on YouTube. We did a one of a kind launch for the song in 4 different cities where the masses gave it so much love and I am glad that the zig-zag step from the song has gone viral. People are hooked on that dance step.
How was it working with Tabu?
There was so much to learn from Tabu ma’am just by observing how she works on a set. She is a fabulous actress. I have always been a fan of hers growing up and I feel blessed to have worked with her, and hopefully, I’ll get that chance again.
You also made your OTT debut with Dhamaka. What was that experience like?
As an actor, all I can ever ask for is a platform to deliver my art. Be it OTT or on the big screen, the experience of telling different stories is my only destination. Both platforms have different experiences. The fact that my film was just a click away for consumers around the world is like different magic than the experience of watching larger than life films in theaters, and both are extraordinary.
Has your idea of the media changed after playing a media person yourself?
Definitely. The news anchors do it so smoothly that I always thought it was such an easy job, but only while playing Arjun Pathak, did I realise how much responsibility the task comes with and how difficult it actually is. You have to captivate the audience and build a connection with them every time you face the camera.
When did you realise that you’d become a star?
It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing, but I think after Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, that change started coming in, when people started recognising and calling me by my name. I am very grateful for the position I have attained in my life and career today, and it is my audience and fans who have to be credited for that.
Does stardom sit comfortably on your shoulders?
Stardom for me, till date, has only meant love from my fans. So when the love grows, I only feel more and more motivated to push my boundaries further and work harder for them, as it is to them that I owe my success. Plus, stardom is a dynamic concept which always comes and goes, but it is my family that always helps me stay grounded and remember my roots, so my focus is always on my craft and on working towards being the best there.
Do you have a group of friends who will give you an honest opinion? Who will tell you honestly if you’re bad in a film?
My friends are brutally honest with me, and my family is even more honest with me. My parents and my sister watch every movie, and I get honest feedback from them. They keep me grounded. They help me stay connected to my truest self and are the first to tell me if I did poorly in a film.
Have you seen a movie poster or trailer in recent times and felt you should have been part of it?
Recently, I saw Dr. Strange in the theater, and I was like, I want to be part of a Marvel universe. They really know how to create magic.
When was the last time an actor’s performance humbled you?
I can’t think of just one. There are so many great actors in our industry and so many of my contemporaries have been giving some amazing performances, like Alia Bhatt in Gangubai Kathiawadi, which was just superb, and so many more.
Do you recall your first audition?
Honestly, I owe my first audition to social media. While in college, I was going through Facebook and I used to follow all the auditions and casting call pages, so that’s when I came across this post for a young boy with a requirement for a profile matching mine, so I went for it and, by God’s grace, I was selected. It was only then that I found out it was for the film, Pyaar Ka Punchnama, and then everything that proceeded was in front of the audience.
What are your thoughts on marriage? What are the essential ingredients for marriage?
I believe in the institution of marriage. But right now, I am married to my job now and I would like to stay focused on the same. The ingredients of marriage for me are love, trust, and commitment, and I am putting all of that into my work right now, and I am glad that it is giving the same back to me.
What’s your take on love?
Love is a beautiful, pure, and personal feeling, and I am a romantic at heart. I am glad to have so much love from my family and fans, but as far as the romantic side is concerned, I feel that happens on its own and it always has a new take on it.
You are now the most eligible bachelor… Any pressure?
(Laughs) What is the pressure on that? The fact that I am a bachelor means I’m the one with no pressure on me. Right now, my focus is only on my work. I plan to stay that way till I feel ready enough to focus on anything else.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully, I will be living the life that I have envisioned and have been working towards – which is being the number one star