The day actor Kartik Aaryan first arrived in Mumbai from Gwalior in 2008 to study engineering, the starry-eyed fanboy visited his idol Shah Rukh Khan’s house ‘Mannat’ in Bandra. All the future star wanted was to catch a glimpse of the superstar, who often waves at his fans from his balcony, and so it happened that SRK’s eyes met the 18-year-old’s for a fleeting second. At least, Aaryan thought so. It was a defining and decisive moment for him that led to his acting career. He hoped he would get the same adulation someday.
Three years later, Aaryan signed his first film, Pyaar Ka Punchnama, and is today one of the top-selling actors in Bollywood though the King Khan dream is still miles away. “I have worked hard to be where I am today. I feel blessed and grateful to be in this position,” says the 31-year-old hero of Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. His recent release Dhamaka, directed by Ram Madhvani, has been trending in the Top 5 Non-English Films worldwide on Netflix. It is also among the top 10 films in 10 countries on the streaming platform, including India, the UAE, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Aaryan can’t be more ecstatic.
“Completing the shoot of Dhamaka took us 10 days, but I can’t tell you the number of days and the number of hours I took to prepare for my character, Arjun Pathak. Ram sir gave me such an important role in my career that I had to put in the sweat, blood, and anything else if demanded,” he says, adding, “As an actor, every film’s success pushes you to the next level in the business. With the kind of love, appreciation, critical acclaim I have received for Dhamaka, I’m feeling validated as an artiste.”
Success took its own time to reach Aryan’s doorstep. After a series of humiliating auditions, Pyaar Ka Punchnama happened in 2011. Later, after a gap of four years, came the sequel Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 that became a superhit earning `88.17 crore at the box office, a formidable figure for a non-starcast film. Aaryan was slowly becoming a known name with superhits Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (2018) and Luka Chuppi (2019). “I came from a small town with zero knowledge about the film industry. I have faced several rejections and humiliations in my life. Some people said to my face that ‘you are wasting your time, tumhara kuchh nahin hoga.’ I’m happy that my belief in myself, my hard work, and my patience paid off.”
Aaryan has his own concept of success. He says, “It’s truly a big thing for an actor when a filmmaker starts having you in mind when he has a script. As an outsider with no connection in the film industry, this feeling is surreal and I’m glad that all my struggles have borne fruit.”
Born to doctor parents, Aaryan had left the bylanes of Gwalior over a decade back to pursue an engineering degree in biotechnology in a Navi Mumbai college but secretly nursed an ambition to make a career in tinseltown. He believes the years he spent struggling has made him resilient. “To work hard, have patience, give my best, and never let success get to the head,” is his philosophy. The actor understands that fame and success are transient. “If you take them too seriously, it might become difficult to survive when it goes away. Never let them affect you,” he warns, perhaps as a reminder
Aryan has a slew of interesting films in the pipeline. He will soon be seen in Rohit Dhawan’s Hindi remake of the Allu Arjun Telugu blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo titled Shehzada. Then there is Hansal Mehta’s Captain India, Anees Bazmi’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, and a few more untitled ones. “All I can say is all the roles are different, exciting and it will be a treat for my fans to watch me in a different role in every film.”
A definite departure from his earlier movies, Aaryan is proving that he is not just a comic actor cashing in on his boy-next-door charm but means business. He is embarking on the second phase of his B-Town journey, with a versatile range of roles that could establish him as a more capable actor than he has so far been credited for. “I was being offered similar roles, which happens with every actor. When you prove yourself on the big screen and audiences see you in a certain role, the same kind of films automatically come your way. It is nothing to complain about.
But it’s important to strike the right balance and pick something new once in a while,” he explains. Dhamaka has allowed him to be versatile. He played a disgraced news anchor who takes extreme steps to get back his position. “It was just what I needed to show my craft in a different genre. Now that audiences have loved me in an intense role, I can say that they should expect more such dhamakas coming their way.” As for his second encounter with SRK, it’s a story for another day.
A filmmaker you wish to work with.
An OTT show you would want to be a part of.
Money Heist and Hansal (Mehta) sir’s Scam 1992
When not working, you are...
Playing on PlayStation or travelling
Bollywood for you is…
Dhamaka gives us…
Love for you is
What comes to mind when you hear Hansal Mehta?
What does family mean to you?
They are my world