This is the life story of Captain Batra, he is a matter of great pride not only for us but for the entire Indian Army and the country. It was an emotional journey for me. The film took time to make and I have known his family for a long time, so my endeavor was to portray his sacrifice in the right way. I did two types of preparations. First you love his mind and secondly there is physical preparation that what should be his body language if he was in Indian Army. I knew Vikram’s twin brother for a long time. He belonged to a middle class, lovely and Punjabi household. His other side was that of the Indian Army, where he was serving. When he used to go on missions, his juniors believed that if Batra sahib is leading, we can go comfortably, as he will take care of us. Physically I tried to learn and understand drills and weaponry with Army personnel in Mumbai. Also took training of army at a place like Kargil. Took about 6 months of training so that the role looks real.
If you yourself are from army background, then as Siddharth Malhotra, what do you consider your duty for the country?
As a citizen, whatever work you do, no one can match the service of the Indian Army. During the shooting of this film, I saw that we can only thank him for the kind of hardships a soldier has to face and the kind of mental and physical toughness he needs. In the scorching sun and freezing cold, they stand on the border. We also faced a lot of difficulties while shooting in Kargil at an altitude of 14000 feet. We still had the option of retakes, but they don’t get retakes in real life. So many of our soldiers were martyred because of this. Whatever I say in this interview, it can never be equal to the martyrdom and duty of our soldiers. All I can do as an actor is to inspire the youth of today by showcasing the spirit, martyrdom and merits of the Indian Army through this film and my character.
Have you ever taken a stand for any issue of the country?
I was in Shaheed Bhagat Singh College which is a very famous university in Delhi. Be it youth groups or college leaders, there are many issues that come under what happens. If I say my point that I have raised any voice on any serious issue, then I did not stand for patriotism but for animal shelter. For that I and some other college students had filed a petition for the animals of Delhi. Then perhaps people did not have that much awareness about animal cruelty and there was no social media.
People on social media are comparing your character Captain Batra with Abhishek Bachchan’s character of Captain Batra (LOC)?
If you put one thing on the internet, you get 100 things. It always happens. The comparison has started before watching the film. I want to tell the people that first people should understand the story which we are showing. Let them understand Vikram Batra ji who is our hero. His family is closely related to this film. The thought of being compared is far from my mind. Right now I am nervous as well as excited. More importantly for me, what would his family think after seeing the film? His brother has seen the film. His parents, sisters and friends have not seen it. It is very important for him that we have portrayed his son in the right way with full justice. For him, this film is the story of his home, because for him there is no competition or commercial angle in it.
Has the trolling of syllabus on social media increased a bit in the pandemic? What will you say?
We, being actors or celebrities, are the first generation to have the option of social media. Whenever a new thing comes, there is no one to understand how to use it. I hope that the negativity that spreads through this should be reduced, because the children of today are already exposed to this thing. They know about internet, technology and social media. I agree that some people use it incorrectly. But I hope that the next generation who are in school and college today will use it properly.
How was your experience working with Kiara Advani for the first time?
Yes, we are working for the first time. I remember that 2 years ago he did Karan Johar’s ‘Lust Stories’, in which I really liked his work. The simplicity and simplicity that we wanted for Dimple in ‘Shershaah’ has been beautifully presented by Kiara. Also, he has worked very hard to bring out the Punjabi accent. Though he is not Punjabi. I myself am a Punjabi, so I always used to talk to him in Punjabi during the shooting.
What message would you like to give to combat the pandemic?
Our country has recently gone through a very difficult and delicate period. I am very happy that now things have become a little better and normal. Also the environment and the cases are under the control of our government. Those people know how to take precaution, so I would not like to repeat it again. But I hope you pay attention to mental health. We can fight this together and hope that the third wave of Corona never comes. Even if it comes, we and our government should be fully prepared to deal with it.