WILL KAR­TIK AARYAN GROW UP?

India Today - - LEISURE - —Suhani Singh

Few would have pre­dicted that a com­edy in which a young man spends over two hours warn­ing his child­hood buddy against mar­ry­ing a clever woman would be­come In­dia’s third-high­est gross­ing film so far this year. But Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is de­fy­ing the odds.

Made on a bud­get of Rs 30 crore and with no A-lis­ters, the com­edy has crossed the Rs 100 crore mark (Rs 107 crore and grow­ing), beat­ing big­ger films such as Pad­man and Raid in In­dia. In SKTKS, di­rec­tor and co-writer Luv Ran­jan goes back to the well, again ap­peal­ing to an au­di­ence of young men by ridi­cul­ing women, as he did in the Pyaar Ka Punch­nama movies. And as be­fore, ac­tor Kartik Aaryan an­chors the film.

Both Aaryan and Ran­jan started their ca­reers with Pyaar Ka Punch­nama (2011). “There is a spe­cial con­nec­tion that we share,” says Aaryan, now 29, with six films un­der his belt. “We un­der­stand each other re­ally well. We have seen highs and lows to­gether. I blindly trust him. I al­ways will.”

In the Pyaar Ka Pun­chama se­ries, Aaryan shared time with an en­sem­ble cast. In SKTKS, he gets more screen time to show­case his comic range. “Luv sir’s writ­ing has al­ways been crazy, but with Sonu... he did let me im­prove a lot,” says Aaryan. The film’s suc­cess, Aaryan says, is proof that con­tent pack­aged with com­mer­cial value works. “The songs and lo­ca­tions you see, ev­ery­thing is big­ger than what Punch­nama was,” he says. Box-of­fice suc­cess aside, film crit­ics have blasted the char­ac­ter Sonu for misog­yny. “Re­bound ek hafte baad gusse mein sex karke hota hai, c ***** e, chheh mahine baad dukh mein shaadi karke nahin,” he says, for in­stance. (You get over an ex by be­ing an­gry and hav­ing sex a week later, not by be­ing sad and mar­ry­ing some­one six months later.)

But Aaryan feels the de­trac­tors are read­ing the char­ac­ter in­cor­rectly. “Sonu is a bit ma­nip­u­la­tive, he has shades of grey but he is still love­able. You root for him, you want his friend­ship to win,” says Aaryan. “We are liv­ing in times where we crave for self­less friends like Sonu, some­one who leaves ev­ery­thing aside and tell us what’s right.”

With his 30th birthday on the hori­zon, Aaryan re­mains fo­cused on youth-cen­tric films. “It’s the au­di­ence that has grown with me. It’s al­most 65 per cent of the theatre-go­ing au­di­ence. They should not for­get me.”

At the same time, while as an out­sider he could af­ford to ex­per­i­ment, the suc­cess of SKTKS raises the stakes for his next project. “I un­der­stand it’s a cru­cial time for me,” he says. “Main­stream films are what I have grown up watch­ing and what I re­late to. It’s not about small

or big film, it’s about en­ter­tain­ment value.”

KARTIK AARYAN

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