Varun Dhawan (born 24 April 1987) is an Indian actor who appears in Hindi films. The son of film director David Dhawan, he studied Business Management from the Nottingham Trent University, after which he worked as an assistant director to Karan Johar on the 2010 drama My Name Is Khan. Dhawan made his acting debut with Johar’s 2012 romantic comedy Student of the Year, for which he received praise and a Filmfare nomination for Best Male Debut.
Dhawan established himself in Bollywood by starring in the romance Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014) and the dance film ABCD 2 (2015), both of which earned over ₹1 billion (US$15 million) worldwide. He garnered critical acclaim and a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for portraying an avenger in the crime thriller Badlapur (2015). Subsequently, he starred in the romantic drama Dilwale (2015) and the crime-drama Dishoom (2016), the former of which rank among the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time.
Varun Dhawan was born on 24 April 1987 in a Punjabi family to David Dhawan, a film director, and Karuna Dhawan. His elder brother, Rohit, is a film director, while his uncle, Anil, is an actor. He completed his HSC education from the H.R. College of Commerce and Economics. Dhawan has a degree in Business Management from the Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom. Prior to his acting career, Dhawan worked as an assistant director to Karan Johar on his directorial terrorist drama My Name Is Khan (2010).
Acting debut and breakthrough (2012–14)
In 2012, Dhawan made his acting debut with Johar’s romantic comedy Student of the Year alongside Sidharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt. He was confident as Rohan Nanda, the teenage son of a rich businessman, who competes with his girlfriend (played by Bhatt) and best friend (played by Malhotra) to win an annual school championship. Film critic Taran Adarsh from Bollywood Hungama found Dhawan to be “a talent one can’t help but marvel at” and CNN-IBN‘s Rajeev Masand added: “It’s Varun Dhawan who stands out with a confident, charming turn, able to tackle both comical and vulnerable scenes with ease”. Student of the Year was a success, grossing ₹970 million (US$14 million) worldwide.
In 2014, Dhawan had two film releases. His first appearance was in the comedy Main Tera Hero (2014), a remake of the Telugu film Kandireega, which was produced by Balaji Motion Pictures and directed by his father. He played the leading role of Sreenath “Seenu” Prasad, an impetuous brat, who is in love with Ileana D’Cruz‘s character but is seduced by the character played by Nargis Fakhri. Raedita Tandon of Filmfare commended Dhawan on his comic timing and compared him favorably to Govinda and Prabhudheva. Main Tera Hero proved to be a commercial success.
Dhawan then played Rakesh “Humpty Sharma”, a flirtatious Punjabi boy who engages in a romantic affair with an engaged woman, in the romantic comedy Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. Co-starring Alia Bhatt and Siddharth Shukla, the film was described as a tribute to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) by Johar, who served as producer. Rohit Khilnani of India Today praised Dhawan’s screen presence, and Nandini Ramnath of Mint noted how much he stood out in the “few quieter scenes” of the film. Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania emerged as one of top-grossing productions of the year, earning ₹1.11 billion (US$16 million) worldwide.
Badlapur and beyond (2015–present)
The crime thriller Badlapur (2015) from director Sriram Raghavan saw Dhawan play a man who over the course of 15 years avenges the murder of his wife and son. Portraying the character was a “terrifying” experience for Dhawan, who “slipped into depression as after a point it no longer felt like I was acting in a film”. Raja Sen of Rediff.com praised Dhawan’s acting range, writing that he “sheds his easy-breezy charm — but, crucially, not his slightly hapless natural likeability — and bubbles up volcanically, his eyes frequently doing the talking.” He received a Filmfare Award for Best Actor nomination for his performance.
Dhawan next starred opposite Shraddha Kapoor in a sequel to the dance film ABCD: Any Body Can Dance, entitled ABCD 2, in which he portrayed the real life character of Suresh Mukund, a dancer from Mumbai who wins the 2012 World Hip Hop Dance Championship. Critic Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters criticised the film, finding Dhawan to be the only asset of the film, writing that “except for the honest note he strikes, the rest of the film could have been just a bunch of music videos”. ABCD 2 earned ₹1.57 billion (US$23 million) worldwide; the film’s commercial performance led Box Office India to consider it an emergence of Dhawan’s star power. His final appearance that year was in Rohit Shetty‘s ensemble action drama Dilwale, co-starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Kriti Sanon, in which he played the younger sibling of Khan’s character. Despite negative reviews from critics, the film was a commercial success.
Dhawan next starred in the action drama Dishoom, directed by his brother Rohit, alongside John Abraham and Jacqueline Fernandez. The film was a commercial success as well. As of January 2017, he has completed work on Shashank Khaitan‘s romantic comedy Badrinath Ki Dulhania opposite Alia Bhatt, serving as the second installment of a franchise that began with Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. In addition, he has begun filming David Dhawan’s Judwaa 2, a sequel to the 1997 comedy film Judwaa.
Alongside his acting career, Dhawan performs on stage and has co-hosted two award ceremonies. In 2013, he performed at the Filmfare, Screen, and Stardust award ceremonies, and at an event in Hong Kong. He hosted the 2013 Stardust Awards ceremony with Sidharth Malhotra and Ayushmann Khurrana, and a segment of the 59th Filmfare Awards. He was also part of the 20th Screen Awards, co-hosting the show alongside Shahrukh Khan and Richa Chadda. In 2013, Dhawan performed at a special event alongside Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur, Shraddha Kapoor and Huma Qureshi to raise funds for the flood-affected victims of Uttarakhand.
|Denotes films that are in production|
|2010||My Name Is Khan||—||Assistant director|
|2012||Student of the Year||Rohan Nanda||Acting Debut|
|2014||Main Tera Hero||Sreenath “Seenu” Prasad|
|2014||Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania||Rakesh “Humpty” Sharma|
|2015||Badlapur||Raghav “Raghu” Pratap Singh|
|2015||ABCD 2||Suresh “Suru” Mukund|
|2015||Dilwale||Veer Randhir Bakshi|
|2017||Badrinath Ki Dulhania||Badrinath “Badri” Bansal|
Awards and nominations
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