Straight Talker - Varun Badola

Home  Tinsel Personality  Interviews Straight Talker - Varun Badola

He does not wrap anything in cotton wool for you. Varun Badola has made no qualms about the fact that with him, what you see is what you get but who’s complaining when what you get are performances that are riveting to watch. A seasoned actor, Varun has carved a niche for himself in the television industry by taking on unconventional and emotionally complex roles. As an actor, he makes himself truly present in the character, who can forget his captivating portrayal of a mentally challenged man in the acclaimed show ‘Koshish, Ek Asha’? Frank, straightforward and thoughtful, Varun openly admits his own shortcomings, “I had to work really hard in Nach Baliye because I cannot dance to save my life!” You would think that landing roles has been a piece of cake for this gifted actor, but you will be surprised to know that his decision to stay away from the ‘saas-bahu’ daily soap rut has meant long waits for roles of substance. Varun is a man of few words but as with his screen characters, it is what he leaves unsaid that speaks volumes! Tinsel Gupshup brings you Varun Badola – The Straight Talker…



TG: Did you always want to become an actor?

VB: Oh yes! Acting was not a chance decision. I mean, it’s not like I woke up one morning, saw my reflection in the mirror and thought, ‘Oh, I look so good…let me become an actor!’ It was definitely very well thought of and I knew exactly what I was getting into. To be very honest, I had no misconceptions about the way I looked. So that meant I had to rely heavily on my skills which were pretty nonexistent at the time I came into the industry! I learned a lot on the job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was a complete waste or something but, I did learn a lot after coming to Mumbai. Luckily I had the opportunity to work under fantastic directors like Tigmanshu Dhulia and every opportunity was a learning curve for me.



TG: So you had no formal training in acting before coming to Mumbai

VB: Not exactly. If by formal training, you mean an acting school or something of that sort, then no…I had not been to any acting schools. My father (Mr. Vishwa Mohan Badola) is a big theatre personality and I have grown up watching him act. Besides that I had the opportunity to interact with many well known theatre personalities all through my childhood. So, I had this complete exposure to raw, pure acting…the kind that you can find in theatre alone. Once I started working in Mumbai, I learned a lot working with senior, experienced and talented actors like Irrfan Khan, Dinesh Kumar etc.



TG: You moved to Mumbai and your first big show ‘Banegi Apni Baat’ happened in 1996. Please tell us a bit about that experience

VB: Yes, Banegi Apni Baat was my first major break. The producers of BAB (Tony and Deeya Singh) were making another show called ‘Just Mohabbat’ and Tigmanshu Dhulia was setting things up for it. I happened to be at the set of ‘Just Mohabbat’ giving a screen test for a character in the show and Tigmanshu saw me on the screen. He asked his assistants about me and recommended me to Tony and Deeya for Banegi Apni Baat. So that is how my first show happened.



TG: Banegi Apni Baat was followed by ‘Koshish…Ek Asha’, a very unconventional role. Would you say that was the turning point for you?

VB: ‘Koshish’ was definitely a good start. I would not call it a turning point because nothing had happened for me before that. So, it was a very good start for my career. A lot of people had screen tested for that role and a lot of people did not want to take the role on because it was such an unconventional male lead role. To each his own, but that is the exact factor that attracted me to play Neeraj in ‘Koshish’. I think I would have been extremely stupid to not have taken up the challenge.




TG: How difficult was it to portray a mentally challenged person?

VB: You know it was a bit difficult in the beginning. I guess, once I had decided on the mannerisms, the walk, his speech, his expressions etc then it became a bit easier. After a point what happens is that you just get comfortable in the skin of the character and then you just have to remember what you have set. It was definitely difficult in the beginning.



TG: What were the reactions to your character in ‘Koshish’? As an actor, what kind of feedback did you receive at that time?

VB: I think it did pretty well and my character was well received. I’ll admit that my character in ‘Koshish’ had an effect on me too for a while. I was so new at the time that I really did not know how to apply the switch on / switch off mode and there were times when I took the character home. The feedback was great and there were actually some people who thought that I was not normal in real life. I used to stuff cotton balls in my mouth. So, I would tuck in these cotton balls in the sides of my mouth and that would puff my face up and affect my speech. That is how I wanted the character to sound like when he spoke. People around me used to call me a masochist for putting myself through that torture but I had taken it upon myself to make my character as believable as possible. However, at the end of the day, that whole cotton ball in the mouth thing would take a toll on me and it would become extremely exhausting to be speaking like that all throughout the shoot. It was not easy to keep holding that expression and I would be taking that exhaustion home with me every single day. There is always an easy way or a hard way but for me there are no easy options. If you can’t make people believe in your character then what is the point?




TG: Koshish was followed by ‘Des Mein Niklaa Hogaa Chaand’ and the show did very well too. You came back to the conventional Hindi serial hero…

VB: After ‘Koshish’ I had been waiting for a good show and originally, ‘Des Mein’ sounded like a great story and concept so I took it up. I am being very honest when I say that ‘Des’ was never about the male lead…it was a show about those two girls. You know how Ben-Hur is a film about Christ but you don’t even see his face throughout the movie? So, ‘Des’ was about two girls fighting over a bone who happened to be the male lead but you hardly see him in the show. At the end of the day, that show did not do anything for me and if you go back and watch it you will realize that I did not have much to do in it at all. Creatively, I was not satisfied with the show at all.



TG: Astitva was a show about a younger man falling in love with and marrying a woman older than him. This was a completely new concept for Indian television, were you at all apprehensive about the concept and your role?

VB: Astitva was a huge huge show! It was definitely very unconventional and one of the main reasons I took it up is because I never wanted to get into the daily saas-bahu soap rut. Saas-bahu shows had become the norm on Indian television at that time and I would have much rather sat at home than become a part of that genre. Fortunately for me, Astitva came about and I truly got lucky with that show. We knew what the show was about and we were all hoping that it did well because we were completely aware that Astitva was slightly ahead of its time. A younger man falling in love with a woman older than him happens all the time but do people really understand it? I mean, you come across these situations in our culture all the rime but is the situation really accepted? Most of the times, such situations are not accepted so there were no apprehensions about the concept and the characters but we really wanted the show to do well. Luckily for us, Astitva was very well appreciated and the show was on television for 4 years!




TG: The pattern developing here is that you choose roles that are unconventional and break the mould?

VB: See, I believe that there are so many others out there who are available to do the regular ‘run of the mill’ roles. So let them take care of that and I can choose more unconventional stuff. Maybe I like to swim against the tide. I know each time I choose to do something different, it is a risk but I suppose life is not easy anyway so why should I even try to look for an easy option?



TG: From fiction to reality shows. What was the Nach Baliye experience like?

VB: I was not very comfortable with it because I don’t dance much. My wife Rajeshwari is a beautiful dancer and she wanted us to participate in the show and I did not want to let her down. So, I decided to give it a shot. See, I believe that if you apply yourself to it, you can do anything. Nach was hard work like HOW! It was grilling and killing for me but I just loved the whole process. I worked extremely hard but I would not have it any other way. There were better dancers on the show but all in all, I feel that we were better performers.




TG: We used to look forward to your performances in Nach. You also participated in a singing reality show. Was it easier to sing than to dance?

VB: I am definitely more comfortable singing than dancing. I do know a thing or two about singing but I cannot dance to save my life! My father sings and I have learned from him so it is something I have been interested in since childhood.



TG: Currently you are in ‘Phir Subah Hogi’ and the show is doing very well…

VB: Yes, ‘Phir Subah Hogi’ is an interesting concept. We have picked up the story of this one girl who wants to break away from her life and all the traditions attached to it and make a different life for herself. I am enjoying being back on television after a while. It is always good to come back and notice all the things that have changed…always good to find my feet again. Even after so many years of acting, it is always difficult to start a new show, get into a new role. At the end of the day, I like to go back home knowing I have given it my best shot…put in all my effort. Let’s see where the story of this show takes me…in television you can never say…


"Nothing so distinguishes great acting -- in any style, in any historical period -- than the feeling that the actor has the potential to 'go off' at any moment, and to unleash an explosion -- a flood of lava, that will be totally uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Great Acting always dances with danger!" - Robert Cohen


Photo credit: Varun Badola & Zee TV


©Tinsel Gupshup

Dec 27, 2012
Thank you for this wonderful interview. Varun your performances are always a pleasure to watch, and i am indeed enjoying all the different shades you have brought to TVS. Keep up the great work.

Dec 21, 2012
Thanks for Varun's interview. It was a treat for all his fans. Loved him in phir subah hogi.I want to see all our talented actors like Varun to come back onscreen. TV need good actors like Varun. All

Piu Chatterjee
Dec 21, 2012
Thanks TG for this wonderful interview ..Its been a great pleasure to read the insights of such an amazing actor...Varun is a wonderful human being too..loved the interview.TG GREAT GOING!!

avani pancholi
Dec 21, 2012
Varun is a great actor noone can play Vikram Thakur's role as excellent as Varun............ We all love u Varun a lot we all watch PSH only because of U ya just for U............................

Dec 21, 2012
Thanks for the wonderful article & interview. Varun is a great actor and its a pleasure watching his power packed performance in Phir Subah Hogi as Vikram Thakur.

Leave a Comment

                          You have 200 characters remaining.