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Rotund to robust to revenge seeking rogue

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Young Varun Dhawan exposes his talent in a negative role

After making his debut in Bollywood as the quintessential lover boy in ‘Student of the Year’, Varun Dhawan has now undergone an absolute transformation for his role in the soon to be released film ‘Badlapur’.

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Varun has had a complete image makeover to get into the skin of the vengeful character he portrays. The teaser of the film shows an angry Varun raring to settle scores, with a good dose of blood and violence. His wellsculpted physique and a heavy beard add significantly to the character. In ‘Badlapur’, Varun plays a man intent upon avenging a wrong that was done to him, and interestingly, the actor has to play a young man as well as a 40-year-old, and goes head to head with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who appears to be the seriously bad guy in the film. Varun is seen butchering an unseen body in a room that’s covered in plastic sheets (a bit like the place where serial killer Dexter deals with his victims). And perhaps that’s enough detail for his more sensitive fans!

But this wasn’t how Varun started out in Bollywood. Or in life! I remember him very vividly as a roly-poly teenager who lustily eyed the Ferrero Rocher chocolates that his mother Lali served me when I visited their house nearly 14 years ago. After several visits he confessed to me that because of his absolutely rotund figure, he had been asked to stay off sweets by his mother. At these times, it was usually his brother Rohit who indulged him.

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Rohit grew up to direct ‘Desi Boyz’. When Varun expressed a desire to act in films, it was his father protégé Salman Khan, who convinced David Dhawan to allow his son a fair go. Its not surprising that Salman is Varun’s idol and explains why there are a lot of ‘Salmanisms’ in his film portrayals – whether it is the bare-chested and beefcake look, or the signature dance step that Varun incorporates in almost every film. The only thing that Varun has not been inspired by is Salman’s volatile temper – luckily! Instead, Varun is most courteous to the fairer sex and is well-mannered to the hilt. I can say this with a lot of emphasis because in nearly two decades of my career, I have not interviewed many people who would pull a chair for a woman journalist, or stand up when she enters the room, or escort her to her car. Varun does all this.

So it is even more surprising to see him as Raghu in ‘Badlapur’. The actor has said that he was inspired by television shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Fargo’ to play the role in ‘Badlapur’ that isn’t squeaky clean, and he seems to have modelled his appearance on Gerard Butler’s bearded Spartan look from ‘300’. This is a fitting avatar as Varun indulges in a fair amount of screaming and mindless violence in the film’s teaser. Also in the cast of Badlapur are Yami Gautam, Huma Qureshi and Divya Dutta. Divya is seen locking lips with the bearded Dhawan, and given that this shot is accompanied by the word ‘wicked’, we can deduce that she’s not playing Varun’s wife in the film. Huma plays a sex worker who, according to the actress, works ‘like a bridge’ between Varun’s and Nawazuddin’s characters. Which leaves Yami Gautam to play the hapless wife/ girlfriend who will get butchered, turning Raghu (Varun) from good guy to murderous hero.

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From ‘Student of the Year’ to psycho of the year – can Varun make this transition? More importantly, are Bollywood fans ready to see young Dhawan in a ‘negative’ role? We’ll find out in February 2015!

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