Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ayushmann Khurrana

“I’m a sucker for super scripts” 

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the November 10 - Diwali issue of Super Cinema)

He’s wasn’t really an unknown face, even before he commenced his journey in films. We’ve seen Ayushmann Khurrana on television, but, back then, we were probably unaware of the man’s hidden talents and acting prowess. And then, ‘Vicky Donor’ came. A film that changed Ayushmann’s life; even changed everyone’s perception towards him. He seems to have broken the stereotype that most people from the small-screen, aren’t successful in films, due to over-exposure. His charm worked like magic and women fell for his portrayal of Vicky Arora. He seems like the current heartthrob and thus could give a really tough competition to his contemporaries. He flashes his dimpled smile, and that probably gets him all the extra brownie points. He tickled your funny bone with his sense of humour and comic timing in ‘Vicky Donor’, but just as I get to know him, I realise, that the man is extremely witty and sarcastic for real, and that’s probably what translates on-screen. His sense of humour, is put to display even through his tweets. But behind all that fun, is someone who’s very serious about his work, and sometimes, philosophical too. And no, that’s not all. He can pen lyrics, compose, sing and dance!  Of course, that ‘Pani da Rang’ became a rage, is a testament to the very fact that he has a voice that you may immediately fall for. Now, that’s what a multi-talented man is all about. We caught up with Ayushmann and spoke about several things, including his upcoming film ‘Nautanki Saala’ and a lot more!

How have things changed for you, post ‘Vicky Donor’?
There have been quite a few changes. People have started respecting me more. Things certainly look much better now. I’ve started getting more offers for shows. And yes, too many film offers too. So, yes, life is good (smiles).

What kind of offers have you been getting?
Every kind of offer. Not just comedy, but also thrillers and all kinds of films. But mostly after ‘Vicky Donor’ I kept getting offers of films which have this north-Indian flavour. But I’ve been restraining myself from picking such films, because then I would get typecast and get the same kind of roles like ‘Vicky Donor’. That of a typical, happy-go-lucky Punjabi guy.

Since your debut film was a success, the audience must now be expecting more from you. Does that make you nervous?
I think I’m pretty confident about my second film. I’ve acted better, I’ve looked better, I’ve sung better, and I’ve composed better. Nobody can predict the box office result of a film, but from my side, I’ve put in my best. I believe, I’ve evolved as an actor, from my previous film. So, as far as my work is concerned, I feel confident.

What kind of characters do you wish to play on-screen?
I’m a sucker for super scripts. So, for me, if the script is very good, then I might just do the film. Like I don’t really want to play a character of a Delhi-based Punjabi guy again and again, but if I get an awesome script, and it has a similar character I would still do it. Having said that, I also believe, that the character of Vicky Arora came easy to me because of the cultural influence. I’m from Chandigarh, so the accent and the dialect came natural to me. Nobody has ever spoken Punjabi so fluently in a Hindi film. But now, yes, of course I want to explore more characters. But I’ve no plan in mind. I’ve not thought about what I want to do. I’ll take up anything interesting that comes my way.

Tell us about your upcoming film, Rohan Sippy’s ‘Nautanki Sala’.
I’m playing a theatre actor in the film. His name is Ram, but on stage he plays Raavan’s character. So, he has these grey shades. I took up the film because of the range that my character has. Better scope for me to perform. We’re done with the shoot, and it shall release in March, next year.

How has it been working with Rohan Sippy?
He comes with some great experience, and I’ve always been an admirer of his work. I’ve loved ‘Bluffmaster’, and ‘Dum Maro Dum’. He’s very intelligent, and always gives you a great feeling. I believe, Rohan is a director who mixes conventional cinema with new age cinema. He comes from a lineage and legacy, so he has immense knowledge about films.

You’re also singing and composing again for ‘Nautanki Sala’. Singing does seem like love, alongside acting.
I still believe that I’m not a trained singer, or have no classical singing background. May be it’s just this texture in my voice that I have. But I think, I’m more of an actor than a singer. I’ve sung 2-3 songs in the film, and composed a song with Rochak Kohli. The song is titled, ‘Saadi Gali Aaja’. And again, it’s a Punjabi song.

What do you have to say about all the women drooling over you? And yes, some of them are shocked to know that you’re married!
(Laughs) Since, I belonged to theatre, and then did TV shows, I’ve always had a certain following, and kept getting some attention from women. Though, of course, the scale is much higher now, because I think it’s just a gradual process. But most people who’ve known me as a TV anchor and all, know that I’m married. Moreover, it’s not recently that I’ve got married, it’s been so many years. And I’ve never even tried to hide the fact that I’m married. But there are some people who’ve suddenly realised that now, and yes, quite a few of them get really shocked!

How is ‘Hamara Bajaj’ shaping up?
It’s a film that I’d signed even before ‘Vicky Donor’ released. My character in the film is called Sanjay Bajaj, hence the title of the film is ‘Hamara Bajaj’. He is this guy from Agra who wants to become an actor. I’ll be shooting for the film in the first quarter of 2013, once Shoojit Sircar finishes shooting for ‘Jaffna’ with John Abraham.

Any other projects that you’ve signed? It was being said that you’re a part of the ‘Tere Bin Laden’ sequel, and doing a film with Kunal Kohli…
There were only talks about both the films. Abhishek Verma is a great friend but I don’t know how the ‘Tere Bin Laden’ sequel is shaping up. So, at the moment, I don’t know if I’m doing the film. It shall still take time. And Kunal Kohli’s film, I’m not doing for sure. At the moment, I’m just reading scripts every day. I just want to make the right choice.

Being an anchor and being an actor are both totally different things. While anchoring, you have to be yourself, but while acting, you have to be your character. Has the transition been difficult?
Yes, they certainly are very different. While anchoring, you’ve to look straight into the camera, and while acting you have to ignore the camera. But looking right into the camera can be intimidating. So being an anchor has given me a lot of confidence. The transition though, wasn’t very difficult. As much as I love acting, anchoring has also been a great experience for me.

You’ve been an RJ, and also a journalist for some time. Now you’re on the other side, answering questions…what’s more difficult?
I’ve always been someone who’s very confident and very inquisitive. So, I love asking questions to people, and try to know about their life and their work. So, I loved that, and it was also a little easy for me. But now I realise that answering questions is much more difficult. In fact, I’m still in the process of learning to answer questions.

More often than not, your tweets are full of sarcasm. You seem quite witty. That’s why you seem to enjoy comedy…
Well, yes, that may be true. But then, my tweets depend on my state of mind. Sometimes, I’m also highly philosophical and serious. Though, most times I try and be witty. And I love comedy because it’s just good to make people laugh. Nobody wants to be serious all the time. People are entangled with something or the other all the time, so they need cinema to entertain them and make them laugh. Of course, comedy is also the most difficult to do.

When you get some time for yourself, what do you like doing?
At the moment, I feel I’m just living my life out of a suitcase. I’ve been travelling so much. Even right now, I’m just back from Chhattisgarh and talking to you. Lots of work for the day, and then again going out of town. So there’s very little time to do other things than films. But, if I do get some time off, I like to compose music, sing just for myself. I also love reading a lot.

What does Diwali mean to you?
Diwali means a lot to me. Most of the times, I try and go to Chandigarh during Diwali. I remember, when I first came to Bombay, my mother insisted that I do a Laxmi Pooja at home. I didn’t even know how to do it. So, I downloaded a video from the net, saw it and performed the pooja accordingly. I gorge on so many sweets during Diwali. Even this Diwali, when I go to Chandigarh, I’m sure I’d at least put on 3kilos (laughs). Diwali for me is a festival of lights, giving gifts to people. I don’t burst crackers, and I would request people not to do so. Bursting crackers, sometimes, is more like a status symbol, specially in Punjab. But, people should just light diyas and candles, eat a lot, and spend good time with their family. 

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