Hear the name 'Ayushmann Khurrana' and you are already prepared to watch something novel and exciting on the big screen. From playing a sperm-donor, a man suffering from erectile dysfunction to a cop, his filmography might be an object of envy for many of his contemporaries. The recent National Award win further cemented his position as one of the most versatile actors from the current lot.
Recently in an interview with Filmibeat, the 'Dream Girl' actor opened up about the three ingredients of his success, how he was once called a 'flop' actor and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation.
'National Award Is A Perfect Validation Of The Fact That My Choices Have Been Right'
Q. Firstly congratulations Ayushmann for your National Award win. It's a huge achievement for you. So now from here, how to you plan to take your career ahead? Do you feel any pressure?
A. It's a very happy pressure and responsibility that I have right now. National Award is a perfect validation of the fact that my choices have been right. So, I don't want to think about any thing else and change my formula of the way of thinking or approach towards scripts. I want to keep the basics right. I don't have to get overwhelmed the name of the director, producer or co-actor or the periphery around it. I want to go with the material and script.
Q. Post the National Award win and five hits in a row, do you feel there is any change in the perception of people around you about you?
A. I just want to try different things. I am not thinking about the five back-to-back hits or successes. For me, 'Dream Girl' is very different for my filmography. It's the most masala and commercial film which I have ever done. Generally, I have played subtlety in my films. But in this one, I am gone all out. It's actually an ode to the 90s brand of comedy. I have taken the Govinda out of me. (laughs)
'I Am Very Detached As An Actor'
Q. Did 'Dream Girl' have any influence in your personal life?
A. My films have never affected my personal life. I don't take my characters back home. I am very detached as an actor. I don't watch my films more than once or else, I might fall in love with myself. (laughs).
Q. Do you detach yourself from the success as well that easily? Right now, you are considered to be one of the most successful actors in the industry. How do you manage to stay grounded despite all this? In fact, there are people who even compared you with the Khans.
A. It would be unfair to compare. The new-age actors will have to spend at least 25 years in the industry and give consistent hits. There's no comparisons.
'I Go With My Gut Feeling'
Q. What is your criteria when you green-lit a film?
A. I don't take anybody's advice. I go with my gut feeling. My wife and my manager read the script. That's about it. When it comes to script selection, I keep my basics right. It has to be an absolutely fresh concept for Indian cinema. Secondly, the concept has to last for two hours and should be able to hold the audience's attention for that period. Thirdly, it needs to have some value addition.
Q. 'Dream Girl' is your most commercial film. Having said that, this is still so different in the commercial zone as well. In the sense, not may quintessential cinema actors would have the guts to take up a character like Pooja. How uninhibited did that required you to be?
A. There were still some inspirations like Govinda in 'Aunty No 1' or Kamal Haasan in 'Chachi 420'. I think Kamal Sir was so legendary in that film. He wasn't playing a drag; he played a real woman and even had two men in love with her character in the film. That's the biggest inspiration.
Q. Do you feel 'Dream Girl' was offered to you at the right time where you would be that uninhibited in terms of the kind of the films which you already have in your filmography?
A. With this film, I would love to reach the single screens. The tonality of this film is like that. It's slapstick, slightly illogical but it's humorous. It's a laugh-out loud film. The songs are also quite commercial. So, I just want to reach that audience so that I can do more films like 'Article 15'. This kind of film will give more reach to 'Article 15' of the world.
'I Credit My Success To My Unsuccessful Films'
Q. Your journey from a radio-jockey to a National Award winner has been quite beautiful. Were you always sure that you would make it in the industry? Was there a moment of self-doubt?
A. It was only once when 'Hawaizaada' bombed. That was the time when I was questioning myself about what was going wrong with my choices. That was a great learning curve. If that wouldn't have happened, I wouldn't have been where I am today. I give credit to my unsuccessful films. There was the only phase of self-doubt. After that, thankfully 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' happened in three weeks after 'Hawaizaada'.
Q. Do you think 'Hawaizaada' would have worked if it were to release today?
A. The concept was good. I think I can't be objective about it any more. Because when you make a choice or watch the film twice or maybe revisit it again and again, I can't be objective about it. It's just that it would be different. It's just that bugeting didn't work.
Q. But what happens when a film like 'Meri Pyaari Bindu' doesn't work which is close to your heart?
A. I gave my heart and soul to that character. I loved Abhi's character. I got mixed responses for that film in my family as well. Some people liked it, some didn't.
'Nobody Would Have Tweeted That Had I Been A Hit Actor'
Q. You are seen as a threat to your contemporaries and your script selection is quite envious. What's your take on that?
A. I don't know what to say. (laughs). I think everybody is doing good cinema. Including my contemporaries.
Q. The perception of people around you must have changed before and after your success. What were the changes that you felt? Were there instances when someone from the industry demotivated you?
A. They never used to tell me on my face (pauses). I am quite active on social media. I remember after 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', somebody tweeted that I was a flop actor. I was about to tweet back to that person that it is a legit hit film. But then I realized that nobody would have tweeted that had I been a hit actor. So, I made sure that all of my films are successful ones. From there on, I would always put my script ahead of my character. My only aspiration was to give successful films and if there is elbow room for my character, I would go for it.
Q. With the kind of roles in your career, it's difficult to have taken them up without any conviction and belief in yourself. Did you ever lose any films because of your belief system? Even during your Roadies days, you were quite vocal.
A. I am really good friends with Raghu. He was the first person in Bombay who helped me out with my portfolio. My first audition happened because of him. Speaking about convictions, you just have think about how differently you can do things in life and have your own space in this world. You need to have some vision as well along with your talent. That makes your journey more interesting and successful.