There is something about Ayushmann Khurrana that makes him an unlikely candidate for a stereotypical Bollywood hero. He doesn’t walk around with a huge entourage, there is a sense of ease around him that is rare in the industry. ‘Hectic’ is how he describes his state of mind when I sit with him to chat up on his upcoming release ‘Dream Girl‘. The topic of being a father and missing his two kids Varushka and Virajveer gets to him. “I miss them yaar”, there is a sense of heartache when he says this and you can’t sense but wonder that besides being tagged as a versatile talent , Ayushmann is also a hands on father. Being there for his kids is a priority but when you are in the midst of promotions that naturally takes a backseat. Here are excerpts of our chat where the ‘Dream Girl’ actor talks about using his gut instinct to sign films and the sort of scripts Read on..
This looks like something Ayushmann would do, I heard that recently during a conversation on films. You have managed to create a niche and brand for your slice of life stories, did this come naturally or was it a struggle getting here….
Usually, I used to take a lot of advice from people because I wasn’t confident about my.. I don’t know what my gut maybe that time. My first film happened and after that I wasn’t getting any film or any script of that benchmark. I was following the conventions, asking advice from people, following the rule book. After three unsuccessful films I thought I just need to change this rule book and I started following my intuition and my gut because that’s what I used to do in my theatre days. I used to make plays which were edgy, quirky, socially relevant and taboo breaking with humour. And my films are exactly like that. They are exactly our street plays. We were a bunch of 10 maverick boys and we used to just make plays, street theatre and genuinely traditionally street theatre was very mundane, dark, informative and we realised that street theatre does not have a ready audience. So you call audience and then start performing. Then you realised they were not interested in seeing something dark because one, they are not ready audience and second, they were not interested in something which is dark right. So I started following my heart and that’s how it happened.
With success comes expectation and hype, how do you manage that
It is a happy pressure to have. It gives me more courage that I should and whatever I am doing is right, it gives that validation. It gives me the courage to do films like Article 15 which is beyond the realm of commercial cinema, it is not even satire it is plain dark. It is intriguing, it is informative.So I will do a ‘Dream Girl’ to support films like ‘Article 15’ so films of that level get a bigger audience.
How attached are you to a film’s success or failure
I am very detached like that. I am not attached to my characters or my films. I can switch off easily. For my own sanity I need to be detached with my work and I am never too happy, never too sad, I am somewhere in the middle always. For example I was shooting for ‘Bala’, next day I was shooting for ‘Gulaabo Sutaabo’, two different characters. I did ‘Andhadhun‘ and ‘Badhai Ho’ simultaneously, two different characters. I do not believe in the hardcore method. Of course workshops were there for ‘Andhadhun’ for preparation as a musician and blind person and that is about it. ‘Article 15’ more than anything else it was just observation of people around me. I have been friends with IPS officers, and my family also at the same time and it was just reading material about the underprivileged and get that empathy and everything is heartfelt, nothing is peripheral.
So you played the same trick to get into your character for Dreamgirl…
I draw inspiration from the experiences I have had. I have played pranks on radio playing a girl, I was a radio jockey. And I used to make calls to my first girlfriends father and pretended to be a girl and during theatre days I have played a girl and I have been part of Ram Leela also. I have done Ram Leela’s when I was five or six. I have seen Ram Leela. I am from a small city. Like I remember sitting at the pandal till 12 and 1 o clock and watching Ram Leela. So most of the female characters were played by men and this is that guy in the film. So I have seen that. So my experiences in life have been really vast fortunately. Like in the same family distant relatives, I have very rich relatives and poor relatives also at the same time. I have been everywhere. Someone is living in villages in Punjab and some are living in South Delhi, Canada and US. So I have seen every world so that gives me lot of stuff for my craft.
I was talking to Nushrat and she said how you are the same person on and off camera you really don’t become a caricature but more of a character..
Yes. I think you have to give a certain aspect of a personality to every character but at the same time you need to break out of your staple . My staple is slice of life quirky films but at the same time I will do an ‘Article 15’ or ‘Andhadhun’ to break out of the zone. ‘Dream Girl’ is the most masala film and most commercial film. I thought I will just enter like tread in the territory of single screens. I have never done that. I have a loyal meticulous audience.
Do you track box office numbers are you aware of the opening figures of your film
I have started paying attention now. Earlier I was clueless. I had no idea. Of course there is a learning curve after Vicky Donor. I did not know what was this opening stuff and I did not understand numbers at all. I was just a creative guy. Then slowly the past 2-3 years I have started evolving, started taking part in marketing meetings, PR meetings, getting more involved in trade analysts and their views and everything. So I have started understanding now.Traditionally my films have been word of mouth.That has changed now with Badhai Ho in a big way. And we are expecting good opening with Dream Girl also. The buzz is there and it is trending really well and traction is good and this is going to be my biggest release in terms of screens are concerned and I am expecting my biggest opening also. I am very practical like that. I hope everybody loves the film and they find humour sustainable for two hours because I have tried something different. I have been known for my subtle acting, this is something out there.
Being an actor is a full time job, but I hear you are a hands on dad…
Hardly. I try to be but I hardly get time.I am missing the young days of my kids right now because I am travelling most of the time, living out of a suitcase, shooting four films back to back. They miss me and I miss them immensely.