Why integrate when you were born to stand out? Ayushmann Khurrana understood this at the start of his career. What was originally adopted as a survival tool, has now become a #careergoal for the actor. The outsider opted for the road less traveled to avoid getting lost in the fray. An unreliable rebel, he chose offbeat subjects like sperm donation, erectile dysfunction, shame of fat, the sexuality of middle-aged parents, virtual romance and recently the scourge of baldness. In his characters, people find a resonance of their unspoken and unresolved puzzles. With Bala’s jubilation behind him, the actor is impatiently awaiting a fascinating 2020 with Gulabo Sitabo and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan… The juggernaut Ayushmann is unstoppable…
Is this the best phase of your career?
Last year, I felt that I was in the best phase. This year too, I feel the same. When I read the Dream Girl script, I felt it would be a blockbuster. At the same time, people had never seen me in a burlesque comedy. I have always played subtle roles. But this time I was noisy and OTT. Of course, the masses love these kinds of movies. Whenever I try something different, I’m worried. Regarding Bala, I was confident. He had a solid script. It’s the average cinema on the road, which is entertaining.
Were you nervous about doing article 15?
Yes. I was nervous during article 15, AndhaDhun and Dream Girl. Section 15 was not a commercial film, it was a dark film. I was afraid of paise kamayegi ki nahin. While AndhaDhun was experimental.
Was Bala de-stressing after making intense movies like AndhDhun and Article 15?
Making each film is the same. Of course, if you make a dark film like article 15, it costs you dearly. During my research, I read about the disadvantaged. It worried me. But playing each character involves the same amount of hard work. It’s just as stressful and fun.
What turned you on at Bala?
In the past, my films have explored various subjects, even eccentric ones such as sperm donation and erectile dysfunction. Bala is based on a relatable subject, such as baldness, although something is not yet explored on the screen. Almost 50% of men over the age of 30 find it difficult to move away. The film is about self-discovery, the conquest of your complexes and the emergence of a phoenix. Bala has heart and soul. She also called for physical transformation.
You look skinny in the movie …
I started losing weight for Dream Girl because I had to wear a lehenga and a sari. It continued for Bala as in this film, the journey of my character is shown from 20 to 30 years. To look like a 20 year old, I had to bend over.
Have you not considered going bald for the film instead of opting for excruciating prostheses?
I thought about going bald. But my character goes through different stages of the film. So it didn’t seem practical. The implantation of the prostheses would take two and a half hours. We turned 45 degrees to Kanpur and Lucknow. Wearing three layers of prosthetics on the head and this also under the sun was extremely trying. Bala is the hardest movie of my life so far.
Is it difficult or easy to do comedy?
Comedy is always difficult. But it must be new. I believe in situational comedy rather than verbal comedy. Most of my comedies from Vicky Donor to Bala have been situational. Sometimes it’s a mixture of satire and irony.
Given your penchant for original subjects, how difficult are they to
Our society is full of taboos. Of course, people living in metros like Mumbai tend to be progressive. But 70% of Indians, living in small towns, remain conservative. There is therefore no shortage of such subjects. But you can’t make original movies all the time. Since article 15 was not eccentric. AndhaDhun was a dark comedy. However, my films make the audience receptive to taboo subjects, which are not considered lounge conversations. It’s a two-way process. Sometimes you make a difference with the movies. Or you bring a change of cinema in phase with the evolution of society.
You have set a benchmark for significant cinema…
It’s a huge thing to say. Frankly, I received the support of my writers and directors. I can’t take all the credit. It’s a collaboration. We have to combine content with entertainment. Without entertainment, this will not work. At the same time, it cannot be just entertainment or art. It must have some value. He should invite discussion.
Did the victory of a national award (AndhaDhun) increase the pressure to excel every time?
It’s a happy pressure. It makes me more courageous in my choices. It gives me the power to be more radical.
Would you like to make masala movies?
Yes. Dream Girl is the most commercial film I have tried. It was slapstick. It was for the leaders. If I had a chance, I would love to make masala and action-oriented movies. But a film must be unique. It cannot be generic.
How do you deal with creative fatigue?
I turn on and off easily. I like to move from one character to another. For example, I was shooting for AndhaDhun and Badhaai Ho simultaneously. They were two different characters in total. I don’t bring my characters home. When the camera is off, I’m just myself.
What does success mean to you?
Success is a fine balance between contentment and ambition. You cannot be too ambitious or too happy. It must be somewhere in the middle.
How has success changed your life?
With success, people start to see you in a different light. But the idea is not to change with the changing scenario. Rather, continue to be your simple self because that is what has worked for me. My films are also rooted in reality.
Did you sign a movie just for money?
Never. You can attend an event for money. You can play at a wedding for money. But you can’t make a film for money. I never made a film for reasons of friendship or money. I do them for personal satisfaction.
Who do you consider to be competitors?
The competition is not with one person, it is with yourself. How do you surprise yourself? How do you surprise the people around you? The idea is to be consistent and surprise people every time. It’s the hardest nut to break.
Rajkummar Rao and Vicky Kaushal, like you, are avant-garde actors. Your point of view on them …
They are great actors. This is a time when artists thrive on their talent. There are many opportunities for all of us. I’m really happy that I was born in this film era.
Do you read written comments about yourself online?
I barely have time to read the comments. I’m just doing my job. Karm karo phal ki ichchha mat karo.
Do you keep up with international cinema?
I don’t watch movies. I read books. I’m listening to music. I give priority to life over movies. If you make movies and watch them all the time, when will you live? I am inspired by real situations, real people. Uniqueness comes from authentic situations.
Who is your biggest critic?
My wife, Tahira (Kashyap), my biggest critic. She says it bluntly – what is good, what is not. Even my father (P. Khurana) and my brother Apar (Aparshakti Khurana) say it like that.
Having reached so far, what are you missing?
I failed to find a balance between my professional and personal life. Right now, my career is culminating. So I have to work doubly hard. I miss spending time with my family.
What is the best part of being an actor?
This game is not a 9-5 job. Something new is happening every day in your life. Every day is different. Each film is different. You can play different games. That makes it interesting.