The Bollywood actor talks about his upcoming war drama, building a real-life character for the screen, and shooting in Kargil.It’s been 22 years since Kargil war hero Captain Vikram Batra was killed in action, fighting for his nation, but ultimately inspiring the Indian army to victory against the Pakistani soldiers and becoming a household name across the country. After the war, Batra, who was just 24 when he succumbed to enemy fire, was posthumously honoured with the Param Vir Chakra.

Now, a tribute to his legacy comes with the war drama Shershaah, that stars Bollywood hotshot Sidharth Malhotra as Vikram Batra, as well as his twin, Vishal Batra.Also Read | Get ‘First Day First Show’, our weekly newsletter from the world of cinema, in your inbox. You can subscribe for free here

Though the actor has experimented with several genres since he burst onto the scene with Student of the Year almost a decade ago, he is still largely popular — and recognised — for his romcom persona, thanks to films like Kapoor & Sons, Baar Baar Dekho and Hasee Toh Phasee.While other successful projects like Brothers and Marjaavaan have given Sidharth scope to go out of his comfort zone, Shershaah does places him in hitherto uncharted territory — literally — as the star says it’s the first Indian film to have been shot on Kargil war terrain.

With Kiara Advani (who plays Vikram Batra’s fiancée) starring alongside him, and Tamil director Vishnuvardhan helming the project, Sidharth is rooting for the biopic to establish him as a performer who can take on any kind of role with élan.

Excerpts from an interview:

Captain Vikram Batra is known for his valour and patriotism, but he also seems to have been a larger-than-life character in real life, with his exaggerated dialogues and personality. How do you represent someone like that in a film?

You’re absolutely right. Going through Captain Vikram’s book or all the stuff that is written about him, you find that he was an extremely filmy person, for lack of a better term.

I was fortunate that the first person that I met was his twin brother; who else better to tell me about him? And of course, I met his parents, his family, and chatted with his comrades who were in his battlefield. That’s where the idea of what he would be like started from, because there’s so much already written about him in the public domain.

Absorbing from two different sides of his life, I kind of built this character, which I thought would be a more realistic version of Captain Batra, because he said actual lines like, “Yeh Dil Maange More!” on the battlefield. He was an extremely fearless yet emotional and driven person, and for me, had two different aspects to his personality. One is this lovable Punjabi boy, and the other is this very focused and direct leader when it comes to the forces. So we tried to strike a very nice balance to showcase both sides, and hopefully, by the end of the journey, show you a graph of how he matured.