Karan Haricharan, son of singer Hariharan, has a release lined up for Dusshera. The actor will be starring in Pyaar Hai Toh Hai, helmed by Pradeep R.K. Chaudhary. Ahead of the film’s release on October 20, Hindustan Times dialled Karan to know all about his film. From talking about being called ‘not good looking’, to his weight loss journey, to his father’s support, Karan shared several insights from his life.
In Pyaar Hai Toh Hai, Karan Hariharan plays a 21-year-old introverted boy, Armaan who is in love with his best friend. Their friendship takes a different turn when he is unable to express his feelings. The story is said to be about unconditional love.
The film has a lot to do with being friend-zoned in life. Have you ever been there?
Karan Hariharan:Yes, I have been that guy, I won’t lie. This is why I relate to my character in so many ways. I have been in love with my best friend back in the day (laughs).
Recently Amitabh Bachchan endorsed the trailer of the film and sent his good wishes to you. How did you feel?
Karan Hariharan: I’m still in shock. Thank you seems so little to say to him when there’s so much gratitude for him. His energy is so overwhelming. He is humble and a genius. He is a role model.
There’s an influx of newcomers in the industry right now and many star kids, including you will have films releasing by the end of this year. Even Suhana Khan is there. How do you see the competitive scenario because people think it’s easy if you are from a privileged background?
Karan Hariharan: I think everyone has their own battles and lives, which they have to live through to reach where they are right now. I see them as colleagues and not competition; we’re all part of the industry. We are not fighting amongst each other, we are helping cinema grow. There’s a misconception that there’s competition; for me, there is no competition. We are doing our part and doing our best. I love doing what I do, that is acting. I think this is what everyone else is also trying.
Is there a lot more added pressure when you are from a privileged family and people know your dad already? People assume that it’s easier…
Karan Hariharan: I feel there’s a lot of pressure. Because there’s an image you’re trying to protect but also build your own (image). You don’t want to disrespect your family in any way. If you are earnest about your art, you will do good.
I am privileged in every way to work, and I am okay to admit that. I am very lucky to have the lifestyle that I lead. I agree. I cannot pretend that’s not the case, I am blessed. But when it comes to work I will struggle. I have to do it my way. I just cannot look at myself in the mirror and have a sense of pride. I need to earn everything in my life.
At 19, I took the decision and said ‘Dad I will work in the studio.’ I have also done teaching (jobs for aspiring actors). I have worked in junior artist roles.
Didn’t you feel you should wait for a big break instead of picking junior artist roles?
Karan Hariharan:That’s not a thing. As an actor, an act is an act. You cannot call it big, or small. You won’t get the experience otherwise. I cannot go to my dad and say ‘Dad call xyz and set the meeting.’ I want to respect my craft and this is a part of the craft. I don’t want to be given anything because anything given can be taken away. My dad was like ‘I understand. But it’s very hard work, are you sure?’ He was right, in the beginning, it was hard. I don’t think I would have valued everything had I not gone through what I did. I have a lot to learn and achieve but at least I am somewhere today because of all those things.
I am also lucky enough to be overweight in my life. I was 120-115 kilos when I was younger. I think my weight loss journey has helped me to be more disciplined in life.
Go on… Tell us about your weight loss journey.
Karan Hariharan:I always had an inclination that I wanted to be an actor. At 16, the desire became a need and realised if I wanted it then I had to change my look. I was always motivated by the kind of roles I wanted to play.
The weight loss journey happened in just two years when I focused on myself, calories in and calories out. Those two years were the hardest.
Any inspiration behind your transformation from Bollywood?
Karan Hariharan: Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar sir. Hrithik’s command over his body was so inspiring. It isn’t about the shape or aesthetics but the mastery over the body was fascinating.
Often female actors talk about the pressure to look good. Even Sonakshi Sinha lost weight before her debut in Dabangg. Do Male actors go through the same problems? Perhaps they are conditioned to express it less?
Karan Hariharan: I would say, it depends on the kind of roles you want to play and the place you are in your career. There is always a certain amount of pressure to look a certain way. That applies to everyone. I don’t think you have to be ripped or minus-sized to be in the industry. That is not sustainable, I think no one should put themselves in such a situation. That’s not healthy. These are pros and cons in the industry.
I have heard something throughout my career that is–‘You are not good-looking’, even recently. But, I was like what can I do about it? I think you should not take these criticisms personally and see what can you improve.
As your film is about to release, did you hear back from these people who doubted you?
Karan Hariharan:I never had a grudge. I am very happy to improve myself for me and not for anyone else. Someday if they come back, I will give them a hug. I don’t want to continue the cycle of hate.
How did acting happen to you? People expect the son of Hariharan to make a music debut…
Karan Hariharan: When I was 4-5 years old, my dad would make me do music videos. I fell in love with acting, and being on sets, since then.
I used to do stage shows with my dad when I was 10 to 16. At 16, I told dad I wanted to go to LA to study. He was like ‘Are you sure?’ For him, it was never a question, but he just asked ‘Are you willing to put in the hard work?’ My grandmother still tells me ‘Karan get a degree’. I tell her that I have one but it’s in acting. She is old school. My parents were supportive.
Are you into music or close to singing?
Karan Hariharan: I do sing. I play piano and guitar. Sometimes, I put it on social media.
Family comes first. How did your father react to the trailer of Pyaar Hai Toh Hai?
Karan Hariharan: In my head, I was like ‘Oh no! He is going to watch it…’ In my house, between us, everything is very real. Something is bad is bad and if something is good then it’s good. He told me ‘You are sounding very good, your eyes are looking great.’ I was…Thank god! ‘I am glad you like it’ I told him. My mom also loved it. My friends too.