Rohit Khilnani in Mumbai
Young, confident and uber cool Siddharth Malhotra has almost made it in Bollywood.
He is one of the main lead actors in Karan Johar's upcoming film Student Of The Year, a debut that a lot of young actors would die for!
From modelling in New Delhi, to assisting Karan on the Shah Rukh Khan starrer My Name is Khan to leading the cast in his next directorial venture, the journey has not been too long.
Siddharth talks to Rohit Khilnani about the roller-coaster ride he's been on and how he joined KJo's club.
Is becoming an assistant director now a back door to become an actor?
(Laughs) So it seems! That's true, now people only want to become assistant directors because they want to become actors. But trust me, that's not how it works. I came from Delhi to Mumbai to audition for another film which never worked out and now I'm glad that it didn't at that time.
Then somehow I managed to get into assisting but I didn't know that immediately after assisting Karan on one film, I would become an actor. I thought it would take years but destiny had other plans.
'Shah Rukh Khan is so perfect'
How was it on the sets of My Name is Khan, your first film as an assistant director, and you had Shah Rukh Khan in it?
It was awesome! He knew I wanted to be an actor one day so he gave me a lot of tips. After giving the clap for the shot, I used to hide under the camera because that was my job!
One day I was just standing at my position and I hear Shah Rukh Khan saying, 'You know you should observe your props very carefully when you come on the sets. It helps!'
Only when I looked up, I realised he was talking to me. He used to walk up and give good tips.
He is so perfect. He used to come out of the van, give the shot and go back within minutes and I used to think how perfect is that! So you learn even if you just see him work!
So how did it work out? Soon after My Name is Khan got over, Karan Johar called you and offered a role?
That sounds so smooth and easy but it was not like that.
When we assisted Karan on My Name is Khan, we used to act scenes for the actors to see while Karan used to explain the exact shot to them, with the scene and dialogues.
'Karan Johar observed me on the sets of My Name Is Khan'
When you were enacting scenes, were you Shah Rukh or Kajol?
(Laughs) I was Kajol! But I did a very bad job.
Coming back to how you landed this role...
When I did the acting part, Karan would look at me on the monitor. Since the lighting was perfect and the frames were set, he clearly observed me at that time.
I think he had it in his mind since then that if there was a film with newcomers, he would consider me. He asked me to attend auditions for some upcoming films, he didn't tell me anything at that time. I also did a photoshoot and he saw how my pictures came out.
Then one day he told me I was selected for a film that he was producing. I was very happy. Then he asked, 'Do you know who is directing it?'
I had no idea.
He told me he was directing it. My first reaction was like 'Why?'
I mean, it was great for us but when all the stars want to work with him, why would he work with newcomers? He was sure about it and that confidence passed on to me.
'After being offered such a role, keeping it inside was so difficult!'
It was the highest point! The next day was very tough because I was not allowed to tell anyone. I was restless. The filming started one and a half years after I was offered the role so to keep it inside was so difficult!
I was waiting for this period and now it's almost there.
Now that the wait is over and you can go out and talk about your role, how do you see things change? How is your family reacting?
Yes finally, the wait is over. The family is obviously happy but they read a lot about me in the newspaper and call to check if it's true. I have to tell them that everything that's written about me is not entirely true.
So they are getting used to it.
'There is not much rona dhona in SOTY'
For the generation before yours, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was a good college film. So is this KKHH for the new generation?
No. This is not KKHH because this is not a love story. There is not much rona dhona in this. This is about a competition, which is the biggest event of the college. And for the students of that college, it's the most important thing to win this competition.
For all Karan Johar fans, I just want to say that yes, it is a Karan Johar film, much younger and cooler Karan Johar!
You have started your acting career with one of the best directors in Bollywood. What next?
That's also a problem because no one can replace Karan Johar. When you start so high up, then there is a flip side too because whatever we do next, people will think it should be as big as a Karan Johar film.
The standards are set very high. I am sure there will be a low because every film won't be with a big director.
'Karan Johar knows some fashion brands from France which I can't even pronounce!'
What is one non-filmi thing that you learnt from Karan Johar?
Become fashion conscious. He told me, even if I am sitting at home I shouldn't wear just anything. He knows all the brands in the world. He knows some brands from France which I can't even pronounce!
If he sees me in a regular t-shirt, he will ask me where I bought it from and if it's not a brand then why am I wearing it?
There were times when I told him that I can't afford so many brands to wear every day. He used to suggest some shoes of a French brand because Shah Rukh wears them. I told him Shah Rukh Khan can afford it, I can't. (Laughs)
But thanks to him, now I always keep in mind the way I carry myself.
Since you are obviously excited about the film, are you prepared for the female fan following and the frenzy that you may see very soon? Shouldn't you inform them if you are single or dating someone?
(Laughs) Yes, I'm very much single!