He’s one actor who has always chosen his roles carefully. And now he’s all set to delight the audiences with yet another delectable role in Badhaai Ho. During his recent visit to Pune, we caught up with actor-composer-singer Ayushmann Khurrana.
His very first film was a runaway hit. Does he go looking for such roles or do they come looking for him, we ask. He laughs. “I think it works both ways. It’s not a one-way thing, you know. Andhadhun though is different. It’s a thriller. It will definitely break the mould. I look forward to scripts that are normal yet different, which are out of the box. Vanilla won’t sell anymore.”
But does he not fear being typecast? He has been playing the easygoing guy-next door with surprising ease and is often seen as the Delhi ka munda on screen. He chooses his words carefully, “I think the kind of films I do are North-based. This would be the third or fourth film, but you’ll notice that every accent is different.”
He adds further, “In Vicky Donor I was playing a Punjabi, in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, it’s more of Gurgaon and Haridwar, and in Badhaai Ho, I have a Meeruthiya accent. So I make it a point to change my accent to begin with.”
While we have our favourites among Ayushmann’s hit films, we ask him about his own. His face lights up instantly, “Dum laga ke Haisha. It was very different. It was very challenging for me because I’m not from that milieu. It was not a very easy character to play. The movie was based in the ’90s and I was playing a Kumar Sanu fan. It also addressed body shaming. So it was very different and is definitely one of my favourites.”
Being the king of quirks, it comes as no surprise that his social media posts are equally quirky. Does the whole social media frenzy not stress him out? “Not at all,” he replies almost instantaneously. “It really depends on the films you are doing. The kind of audience I have, they are primarily on social media. So it works for me. Apart from that, I’m that person who loves to be on social media. If I want to say something or post a picture which is quirky, I do so through my posts. They are also very quirky, just like my films; an extension of my personality. So there’s no stress whatsoever.”
But does this not take away the enigma surrounding an actor? There’s too much information and fans are pretty much clued in to the tiniest details of an actor’s life. He’s quick to correct, “It’s not just social media, but media per se. First media became active, then social media. This is an era where there will be no megastars. I think we all will be like stars. I think Amitabh Bachchan is the last megastar. There are superstars of course. But megastars won’t happen again. There was a lot of enigma back in the day when people had no idea about the personal equations of actors — their life, marriage, kids, etc. But now they know about everything, and they deserve to know everything. Because times have changed.”
In an era of web series, he’s content doing good cinema. “Unless it (web series) is radically different, I would rather concentrate on films. Though I would like to do non-fiction — like a talk show or something,” he clarifies.
We wonder where this focus comes from. Who does Ayushmann look up to? With a hint of pride he says, “I look up to my father. And I look up to Aamir Khan for the kind of choices he’s making. The kind of selfless attitude he takes forward in films like Dangal, Secret Superstar and Taare Zameen Par. I take a cue from Aamir to do films which are meaningful, content-rich and selfless as a leading actor. You should give elbowroom to your character actors as well because that is what builds the film, the whole texture of the film. I want to follow his footsteps.”
It suddenly makes sense. Here’s an actor who’s young, dynamic and willing to do everything he can to raise the bar for cinema. Just like his role model. Prod him further on Badhaai Ho and he explains, “In Badhaai Ho, it’s an ensemble cast. It’s a dedication to the parents. Parents have a role which is equally important.”
We ask him about his experience of shooting for the film and he says with that unmistakable boyish grin, “The film is full of quirks. Every scene is different. And shooting was so much fun. We used to play a lot of cricket on the set.”
Before we conclude, we cannot help but ask what more can we expect from someone who has worn many ‘creative’ hats already. Without a moment’s delay, he replies with a smile, “I’d like to write a script and direct too.”
Badhaai Ho releases on October 19.