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What Left Kartik Teary Eyed?

June 13, 2024 12:04 IST
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'Murlikant sir saw the film for the first time alongside the army chief and many other army officers.'

'The way he got a standing ovation there, I got teary-eyed. It was a very emotional moment for all of us.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Kartik Aaryan/Instagram

Chandu Champion is admittedly the toughest film in Kartik Aaryan's career so far.

The Kabir Khan directorial is based on the life of India's first Paralympics gold medallist and war veteran Murlikant Petkar.

Kartik pushed himself to make his latest role seem as realistic as possible. He left fans in awe with his physical transformation, which was evident in the posters and trailer of the film.

Even after the gruelling filming schedule ended and the film is ready for its June 14 release, Kartik says he doesn't wish to leave this character behind that gave his life "so much positivity".

"The task was to deconstruct my image which is previously set in audiences' mind," says Kartik as Mayur Sanap/ listens in.

You trained very hard for this film, not just physically but also mentally. Was it difficult to come out of this character after the shoot ended?

I have learned a lot from this character. I actually don't want to come out of it. (Smiles)

Whether it is physically or mentally, the entire process has been very nurturing. It has given so much positivity in life.

The lifestyle that I embraced for the last two years to play this character, I would like to continue with it.

When I first heard the narration of this film, I was greatly inspired by the real life story.

I always had the attitude of 'Never give up', but this film has validated that emotion in me so much more. I want to walk with the motto of 'The man who never surrenders' and don't wish to leave this character behind me.

Was it daunting for you to play a real life character?

It was a challenging process because I did not have any reference to play this role.

If you Google Murlikant Petkar, there are a very few images or videos of his, especially from his young age.

Kabir sir (Director Kabir Khan) decided not to allow me to meet Murlikant sir. He had several meetings with him and made notes and pointers. This was my fodder to build up the character. It was a lengthy process, but we put in our efforts to make it work.

Another difficult task was to deconstruct my image, which is previously set in audiences' mind. It was important that I look believable in this part.

There is no romance or comedy or monologue in this film. The makers evaded me from doing all that.

Right from body transformation to one long take war sequence, everything about this film was new and challenging for me.

I was put in a new arena as I was doing a genre that's so out of my comfort zone.


IMAGE: Kartik's physical transformation for Chandu Champion. Photograph: Kind courtesy Kartik Aaryan/Instagram

What got you excited about Chandu Champion?

The story. I was intrigued right from the beginning.

I was also surprised how such a hugely inspiring tale had never been celebrated in films before.

I was 100 per cent sure that this story should reach out to everyone. This was the main reason I said yes to this film.

There are also beautiful dimensions in the film that are beautifully written.

What did you learn from Murlikant Petkar when you met him?

I met him during the shoot when I was filming the swimming portion.

He saw me during the shoot and complimented me for my swimming, as he thought it was very similar to his style.

It wasa big thing for me because I thought all my hard work from the past two years has paid off.

He is a war hero.

He also achieved so much in sports.

He wears a blazer which is embellished with medals that he won for many different things.

There so many facets to his life that it became a task to showcase all of them in a film. We tried to showcase 3-4 sports that he excelled at.

IMAGE: With Director Kabir Khan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Kartik Aaryan/Instagram

How did you work on your dialect for this role?

The film is in Hindi, but there are certain words in Marathi as well. We worked a lot on it. For example, instead of 'Nahin', I am saying 'Naahi' or not 'Hu Main', but 'Hai Mai'.

The script had everything written in it and that helped me a lot to do something different with this character.

I am thankful to Kabir sir that he cast some wonderful actors, who bring their own uniqueness to the film. It's because of them my work probably also shines through.

Did you have an emotional breakdown during the film shoot?

Yes, there were a couple of scenes where I was emotionally overwhelmed.

I lived this character for two years, so filming a certain breakdown scenes affected me.

There is a line in the trailer: 'Main har uss Chandu ke liye ladna chahta hu jo champion ban sakta hain.' That entire scene was very emotional for me to shoot.

The audience associates you with the boy next door image. Is this film a conscious effort on your part to break that image?

I have done films like Freddy, Dhamaka, Satyaprem Ki Katha also.

There's no strategy in my case, I probably just follow my gut instinct. I wish to do different kinds of films each time.

When a script is offered to me, I ask myself if I would like to watch this film in a theatre. Or whether I would have fun while playing this role.

Tomorrow I might do three back-to-back romantic films, if the story is good. I won't let go of a good script, irrespective of genre.

IMAGE: Kartik as a young Murlikant Petkar in Chandu Champion. Photograph: Kind courtesy Kartik Aaryan/Instagram

A lot of Hindi biopics fail to gather audiences' interest. What makes this film different?

I think it has nothing to do with a particular genre, but the quality of the film.

Just because one particular film didn't work, you can't say audiences don't want to watch that genre anymore.

If you make a good film, people will definitely watch it.

Chandu Champion is not a sports biopic, rather it shows a journey of a person who achieved so much in so many different aspects of his life.

Murlikant Petkar is an unsung hero who put our nation on the global map. He was a wrestler, a swimmer, a boxer, a war hero. This is a very unique story. This film is a story of human triumph.

For me, the film has to be a mix of content and commercial elements. And this film is the right blend of both.

There was a standing ovation at the first screening. With such a positive reception coming out, how are you feeling?

Yes, we hosted a special screening which was attended by Murlikant sir.

He saw the film for the first time alongside the army chief and many other army officers.

The way he got a standing ovation there, I got teary-eyed. Even Murli sir was out of words when the film ended.

It was a very emotional moment for all of us.

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