‘I’VE TO BE BRAVE WITH MY CHOICES’
Birthday boy Ayushmann Khurrana says an actor in this day and age has to make “brave choices” in his or her career as those are the “safest” ones
He made his debut with, what he calls an “unconventional” part in Vicky Donor (2012). Interestingly, Ayushmann Khurrana’s Bollywood journey too has been anything but conventional. After going through his share of ups and downs, the actor is clearly on a high now with two back- to-back hits — Bareilly Ki Barfi (BKB) and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (SMS). As Ayushmann turns a year older today, he tells us how failure has taught him much and how he “novelty” is much in demand these days.
What’s your state of mind now?
I am very overwhelmed because initially, when it became known that my two films are coming back-toback, the response wasn’t that positive. Everyone including my friends were like, ‘Why are two movies releasing simultaneously?’ But I have realised that if two films are good, and they release together, they will still make good money and resonate with people. As BKB and SMS do so well even now, I feel it’s kind of a case study. When people come to the theatre, they don’t come with the baggage of the previous films. They start with the films from scratch, and when they start watching a film, they see it in a different world altogether with newer characters.
With two back-to-back releases, how scared were you?
I was always clear that it (the release of films) is completely the producer’s call. They are putting the money, so, they know the best date to release the film. Until and unless you are a Khan or any other superstar, you don’t decide on your film’s release date.
Be it your debut film, Vicky Donor, Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015), BKB or SMS, you seem to be constantly making bold and brave choices. Don’t you ever get apprehensive?
I started my journey with a radical choice. I always say that I have no other option but to be brave with my choices because I started as an unconventional actor in an unconventional film. Actually, this is the day and age where you have to make brave choices and I think they are
the safest choices in this era. We have to give something different to people, especially at a time where there are lots of choices — online or on digital platforms. So, in cinema you have to be as novel as possible.
2017 is also the year when you complete five years in the industry. How has the journey been?
It’s been a very fruitful journey. I think I have also become level-headed because of certain failures in between. Surely, I have a better head on my shoulders now. As I always say, ‘Success is a lousy teacher, and failure is your friend, philosopher and guide.’ I have also become more honest with my feedback to whoever I meet. I have become saner and more balanced. Plus, I respect relationships more than ever before because it is a volatile industry. Every Friday, your position changes and in such a situation, I think we need to maintain relationships especially with our families and friends, who are there with you forever, irrespective of your box-office successes or failures.
You recently said that you will never do films that would make your kids cringe?
Yes, absolutely! To begin with, the script should connect with me and I don’t think I will relate to anything that is vulgar. Your nature, your character and your upbringing is a default setting. So, I probably may never choose a script, which will make my family cringe.
Recently, a critic said that you could be the new-age Amol Palekar. Do you agree?
I take it as a compliment because Amol sir was the one who used to do films which were a little off-centre and had a touch of realism in his films. Be it Chhoti Si Baat (1976), Gol Maal (1979), or Baton Baton Mein (1979), they were sweet films. The kind of choices I am making and the kind of films that have worked for me are – in a way – also in the same genre. Having said that, I would love to explore more genres and do something that Aamir Khan has done in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) or Shah Rukh Khan has done in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994). But at the same time, I also want to explore the grey characters like SRK did in in Darr (1993) or Baazigar (1993) and which I may be doing in Sriram Raghavan’s film. So yes, it’s a compliment for sure, but I would love to venture in other genres as well.
As an actor, where does your strength lie?
As of now, I have been playing on my strength, and I know that it’s realism for sure. That’s the space I would love to own wherein there is a new wave of cinema that has realism. That kind of cinema is also doing well nowadays but apart from that, I feel directors should challenge me because I would love to – for example – do a body transformation. For example, I can’t play a pianist (in Sriram’s film) with six pack abs. So, film-makers should challenge me physically bring out something radically different in me vis-à-vis the craft.
Given an option, would you rather be a ‘bankable actor’ or a ‘big star’?
I think both are two sides of the same coin as big stars are only bankable actors. But I would say that being a good actor is entirely in your hands. See, the success of a film is [a result of] a teamwork but one thing that is in your hands is to keep improving your craft with every film. That’s completely in your control but box office success is a sum total of a lot of things such as your release date, your scriptwriters, your directors, the music team, marketing and everything else put together. But at the end of the day, you need to take care of that first thing – being a good actor.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan director RS Prasanna has said that you have a knack of marrying content with commerce...
I believe there should be a certain budget that a film should be made in. Having said that, I listen to or read a script simply as a common man, a viewer and a lover of Indian cinema, and then I see how it connects with me. If it connects, then I know people will also relate to it because though I am not from a middle class family, I have had middle class upbringing and we were high on desi humour. So if I get connected to a script then I feel that it connect with the masses too. I guess if you make a film within a certain budget and have a good script then definitely it’s going to work.