Kartik Aaryan exclusive: ‘I am aware of the euphoria around me’

Ahead of the release of ‘Freddy,’ Kartik Aaryan looks back on the whirlwind of the year that he has had, and what being a ‘responsible’ actor means to him

Updated - December 01, 2022 06:52 pm IST

Published - December 01, 2022 06:51 pm IST

Kartik Aaryan in ‘Freddy’

Kartik Aaryan in ‘Freddy’

Be it the success of his horror-comedy Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, the media hype over his personal life, or the fact that he managed to steal the show on Koffee With Karan (without even appearing on it), there is no disputing Kartik Aaryan’s stardom.

2022 has been a game-changer for the engineering graduate-turned-actor from Gwalior, who has sent Bollywood reeling with his outspoken nature, affable persona, and most importantly, his on-screen triumphs. During a year when the industry has struggled largely to make sense of what makes the box-office tick, Kartik seems to have cracked the code... in more ways than one.

After a decade of playing (mostly) the funny, rapscallion boy-next-door on-screen (Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Luka Chuppi, Pati Patni Aur Woh) — since he first debuted with the rom-com Pyaar Ka Punchnama — the 32-year-old now taps into a new facet of his acting skills, with an experimental role in his next, director Shashanka Ghosh’s Freddy.

Playing the role of an introverted dentist who might be hiding a dark secret, the star says that he pushed his boundaries both mentally and physically for the part, which might just mark a new journey in the career of Kartik, the actor.

Excerpts from an interview:

The initial footage of ‘Freddy’ that we have seen seems to indicate a dark, atmospheric serial killer drama, along the lines of a show like Michael C. Hall‘s ‘Dexter’. Is it the most complex role you have taken on?

Yes, for sure. What you’ve seen in the teasers is his journey towards entering that path. It goes from being a slice-of-life film to a dark setting with a whole new vibe. It’s a character I’ve never played before; he oscillates between black or white. The response has already been humongous to Freddy, especially since this is a genre that is not so prevalent in our films. 

People have been consuming shows and movies in this space that come from Hollywood or other countries, and I’m glad a character like this came my way here.

You revealed that you gained 14 kgs to play Freddy... What was the reasoning behind this body transformation?

It’s more to do with showcasing my body language the way the director imagined the character to be; he wanted me to look like someone who’s a total loner, lacking confidence and who doesn’t come across as attractive. Freddy might be a good dentist, but outside his job, he doesn’t have anything else going on at all. He can’t even hold a conversation with a friend, let alone a girl. He just goes to work in the morning and comes home at night. So we wanted the body type, the gestures, the paunch and the hunch to all aid an authentic representation of his personality. No body lifting as such! (laughs)

 Kartik Aaryan in ‘Freddy’

Kartik Aaryan in ‘Freddy’

Whenever an archetypal actor/ hero plays a negative lead character on-screen in our films, there is a tendency to glorify that role and justify their actions however infamous they may be. Did this play on our mind when you accepted the film? 

I understand where you’re coming from, but there is absolutely no glorification of my character in Freddy. Once you watch it, you’ll realise it yourself. Yes, there is an arc that goes into that dark space, but it is purely a work of fiction and the audience is smart enough to understand that. It’s purely entertainment for them to enjoy, not to imbibe in their real lives; they know what is right or wrong.

Kartik Aaryan

Kartik Aaryan | Photo Credit: SAKCHAI LALIT

Look at even someone like Shah Rukh Khan sir; he did films like Darr and Baazigar even in that era and everyone loved him in those films. Just because a superstar did those films, does it mean we should follow their actions? Of course not; it’s the same with Freddy. And scripts need these kinds of characters too; that’s why Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2needed a Manjulika (Tabu). Otherwise, we wouldn’t have villains in our films. (smiles)

I definitely feel a sense of responsibility with the way I am and carry myself off-screen and in the public space, but on-screen, I should have the freedom to play any role I want, right?

You had one of the year’s biggest Bollywood hits with ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ that catapulted you to stardom. What do you think you’ve done right that many of your contemporaries have struggled with?

I know (touchwood) that there is a sense of fandom and euphoria going on around me and my films at the moment. I’m aware that it’s happened to someone in Bollywood after a while, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m totally blessed that, from young kids to grandparents, everyone seems to have a belief system that something will be there for them to relish in my films.

Without putting anyone else down — I never want to do that — I truly believe it is because I try to be the hardest worker in the room. That ethic is something that has guaranteed a lot of things for me. The industry can sense it too. They know that I give 200 per cent to the films I commit to; I get into every aspect of the projects, with many questions on even the little details. 

When Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 released earlier this year, the industry still was doing low-key promotions as we were just recovering from the pandemic. But I knew I had to go full throttle and go that extra mile to make sure people came to the theatres. I left no stone unturned. A lot of thought – and work – goes into every decision I make. That’s why, be it a BB2, or Freddy or the upcoming Shehzada... all these films are tracking the way they are.

Your next film ‘Shehzada’ is the remake of Allu Arjun’s Telugu blockbuster ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’; how is it shaping up? Any plans to act in a regional film in the near future?

He (Allu Arjun) is fabulous and an incredible act to follow, but I do believe my biggest USP is that I have my own sense of style. I showcase that in all my films. Despite it being a remake, I’ll be doing my own thing with the scenes, aided by the director’s support and vision. I’m just trying to do good films and stories, mixed with my own personality and the way I am. 

And yes, I am trying to do a straight film down south as well!

Freddy premieres December 2 on Disney+ Hotstar

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