Like millions of other kids, for Varun Dhawan, too, Republic Day always meant waking up early and sitting glued to the TV, watching the colourful parade. And that’s something which hasn’t changed at all. “Even now, I get up early on the Republic Day and watch the parade just as excitedly. That’s like a ritual in our house,” says the actor, who has just had a new film [Street Dancer 3D] release on Friday. As India celebrates its 71st Republic Day, we catch up with the actor for an exclusive photo shoot and interview. Excerpts:
What are your earliest memories of Republic Day?
My earliest memories are of me waking up early and watching the parade on Doordarshan. I vividly remember how dad [film director David Dhawan] would explain things to me. Then, a big, special memory is from last year when I travelled to the Wagah border on January 26 and performed a song for the jawans and about 10,000 other people. Just being able to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ at Wagah was amazing.
What, according to you, is the best thing about India being a republic?
I think India stands as a great example of being a flourishing republic. Over the years, we have functioned very well as a country for many years, while maintaining the love and harmony between people. Personally, I feel there are a lot of good things about our country, and it’s a great day to celebrate all those things.
You are a youth icon. What do you think India epitomises for the young people of the country?
For me, India will always be symbolic of warmth, kindness and love. The ethos of our nation — what our parents have always taught us — such as being nice to everyone, treating everyone as equal and not judging anyone on the basis of skin colour, culture or race, are amazing. These things have been instilled in me. So, I am always going to be like that. There is a very nice ‘humane factor’ in our country which I don’t think many countries have. If any country goes through a problem, India is one of the first nations to offer a helping hand, and I think, that is the greatness of our nation.
And are you a patriot?
Yes, absolutely, and I have been that way since childhood. And why not? It’s an absolutely fantastic feeling to love your country because eventually, we are what we are because of our nation; we are safe thanks to it. The idea of loving our country should be protected. We are all grateful to our jawans at the border for keeping us safe. But I feel, in a democracy, everyone should contribute. We can’t have the attitude that someone else will do a certain job for us. For instance, if you want the country to be clean, you should ensure that you don’t litter, and must stop others from littering. Likewise, if you want pollution levels to be lower, then go the car pool way, or ensure that your car emits no/less pollutants. That way, everyone can make a difference in their own way by doing small things.
Two days before Republic Day, you had a film release. It must be a ‘doubly special’ feeling…
I just hope that people use this holiday and watch Street Dancer 3D with their families, especially since it’s a complete family film and also talks about what actually is ‘Indian-ness’ of India. Plus, of course, like a typical Bollywood entertainer, there’s a lot of fun and entertainment in the film. We Indians love to dance and celebrate, and what better than this occasion for a celebration. So, I feel that a lot of people should come to theatres and celebrate with us (laughs).
What, according to you, is the essence of India that we all should be proud of?
For starters, I feel everyone should be very proud of being an Indian. Plus, we all should use our democratic right to vote, as that’s the most powerful way to make sure that your voice is heard. It’s not enough to just write your views on social media platforms. You must exercise your right of franchise. Another thing we all should vow to do is keep our country clean. That’s why a movement like Swachh Bharat mission, brought in by our Prime Minister, Narendra Modiji, is very important. I personally believe that a clean country will always be a happy one.
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