Set for February 9 release, Aiyaary revolves around the Indian Army and its functioning. And for the first time in his six-year career, Siddharth Malhotra will be seen playing an army officer. While Siddharth has a slew of hits to his credit, Rakul Preet Singh is yet to make her mark in B-Town. A known name in the South industry, she will be seen opposite Siddharth in this Neeraj Pandey film.
Siddharth says he has no direct connection with the Army in real life but his grandfather served in it. “Dadu had got injured in the Indo-China War. That’s the only memory I have of him. My dad always wanted one of us—me and my brother Harshad, who works in banking sector—to join the Army.”
Rakul, on the other hand, comes from an Army background. “Being an armyman’s daughter, I studied in various schools across the country as we had to shift wherever my father was posted. I have the understanding of how the Army functions,” says Rakul. After Yaariyan in 2014, it will be Rakul’s second Bollywood movie.
Siddharth plays a soldier named Jai Bakshi who goes rogue. “I am portraying the younger generation’s point of view in the film, while Manoj Bajpayee plays a senior officer. It’s more of a thriller. Sharing screen space with actors like Manoj Bajpayee, Naseeruddin Shah and Adil Hussain was an exciting experience.
Though I had a few scenes with Naseer sir and Adil sir, most of the sequences are with Manoj sir. My relationship with him is of a mentor and protégé both off and on-screen. We didn’t do many workshops but we would discuss a lot about acting during lunch. Even after the film got over, I used to meet him over lunch and he used to give me tips,” says Siddharth, who respects Manoj a lot. “He is a stickler for perfection. During the shoot, Manoj sir would eat less as he was always on diet. The challenge was to make him look senior. He prepares a lot for his role and that is what I learnt from him.”
Rakul plays software engineer Joya Gupta. “She is very quick and sharp, and is always on the alert. She is very fashionable too. Working with Bollywood stalwarts was a learning for me,” she says. Siddharth says director Neeraj Pandey is somebody who he always wanted to work with. “He never makes a film with commercial point of view. Neeraj makes enacting a scene easy for actors, as what he wants is clear in his mind.”
Rakul says she was destined to work with Neeraj. “The casting director of M.S. Dhoni had auditioned me for Sakshi’s role. My costumes were also ready but unfortunately the film got delayed and my dates could not be adjusted. I had to opt out of it at the last moment. The casting director then called me for Aiyaary and I made sure that I don’t lose this chance.”
Siddharth is looking forward to an interesting year with a biopic on Captain Vikram Batra, where he will be playing a double role, and Aashiqui 3 with Alia Bhatt. “I am eagerly waiting to play another soldier in Vikram Batra biopic. It’s going to be an exciting venture. Before that I have another interesting film, which will be announced soon. There’s still time before we start working on Aashiqui 3. Last year ended in a fascinating way. I had Ittefaq in which I played a character with grey shades, wearing just one costume but people loved the film. The pressure as an actor is increasing and I am hungry for good roles.
I feel bad that I could not take a family trip last year, but this year I will surely go somewhere with my family,” he says. Rakul has a movie in the pipeline too, but she is waiting for the producers to make the announcements. “I have a film in South. I don’t plan anything. I take each day as it comes but my priority is South films. I am doing a lot of other things also. I have set up two gyms—one each in Hyderabad and Vizag. As of now, I have no idea what 2018 holds for me, but I am sure it’s going to be a great year,” she says.