Ayushmann Khurrana: I was skeptical about my chemistry with Sonam Kapoor
After creating a stir with VICKY DONOR and charming through NAUTANKI SAALA!, Ayushmann Khurrana is gung-ho about his third release BEWAKOOFIYAAN, made under YRF banner. We caught up with the uber-cool Ayushmann, who chatted with us on various things. Here are the excerpts from an elaborated interview:
Of the three films you have done VICKY DONOR, NAUTANKI SAALA! BEWAKOOFIYAAN, which one is close to you?
More than any other film, I find BEWAKOOFIYAAN close to me because I am playing an urban Delhi guy. Though I have played it before in VICKY DONOR, that was more earthy anddesi. In BEWAKOOFIYAAN, I play an educated, ambitious South-Delhi urban guy in the corporate sector, completely unlike Vicky, who is hit by recession. Having said that, there is a common factor among all the three characters I have played till now. Be it VICKY DONOR, NAUTANKI SAALA! or BEWAKOOFIYAAN, incidentally all were jobless. I don't think Indian Cinema has tapped this particular circumstance or aspect which happened in our country very seriously. So, this rom-com is based in the times of recession.
How well you could relate with the set of circumstances shown in BEWAKOOFIYAAN?
Since I am an artist and was never really into corporate sector, I cannot relate to a 9-5 job or a formal milieu. I have a certain flamboyant persona. I, probably, cannot even relate to joblessness because when I was struggling I was always a theatre actor or a radio presenter. I always had a job in my hand and financially secure. I was never jobless consistently. Even if I did radio shows, simultaneously I gave auditions. I may have seen rejections but never faced financial crisis like in the film.
Have you been a victim of recession ever?
Since I married young, I didn't have that kind of money at that point of time. I remember I had spent all my money on wedding and honeymoon and was left with just 10000 bucks in my bank but it was for a very brief while because my next salary was ready. So, it was not that difficult. Having said that, actors have not really suffered from recession. I am not talking about distributors or industry per se but actors in general.
Thankfully, I did not face or get affected by recession that much because when I joined Radio there was boom in the Radio industry. When I stepped into television people were looking for anchors. And eventually when films happened, suddenly doors were opened for newcomers. So, I was at the right places at the right time always.
'Acting is not a secure profession'
So, actors will never face recession....What makes this profession so secure?
First of all it's not a secure profession for sure but this is the best phase to be an actor or director. The film industry, conventionally known as the family business, was till date affected by nepotism. Like if your father is an actor or filmmaker, you have all the right to be an actor and if you are new to the industry, you can't get easily into it. But, thankfully the perception is changing. This is the time when anybody who is talented can be part of it. It's welcoming newcomers with both hands.
Does BEWAKOOFIYAAN aim to give a reality check to the youngsters?
Definitely! Normally, rom-coms are based in a very make-belief world. Every rom-com is very happy, bubbly, they seem to lead very la la la life. However, BEWAKOOFIYAAN is an imperfect love story. It is based out of real situations because the script-writer Habib Faisal is very realistic. The treatment is given by the director Nupur Asthana, who is very talented and she has made this film very young, urban and glossy. I think the combination will work pretty well.
How does it feel to turn a YRF boy? You ever dreamt of being one someday?
There was a dream for sure but I am always a realist. I never expected. I always wanted to be an actor and its part of every actor's bucket list to work with Yash Raj Films someday. It's a surreal feeling and I'm quite happy that I am part of YRF. I have three films deal with them - BEWAKOOFIYAAN being my first, second happens to be DUM LAGA KE HAISHA and third is yet to be revealed.
CHECK OUT: BEWAKOOFIYAAN Movie Review
Do you miss playing a conventional lover boy on-screen?
For me, this is the most conventional film out of the three projects I have done and even the line-up which is coming up. This is the most commercial film because it's a YRF rom-com. Apart from that, DUM LAGA KE HAISHA is a very unusual YRF film. The banner has never treaded into such an unusual territory. Further, I am doing BAMBAI FAIRYTALE, which is a biopic. Then, I am playing a footballer in Shoojit Sircar's next. So, these are all very edgy, quirky and concept-based films.
Ever since you started out with VICKY DONOR, you have been doing unconventional stuff. Did you think of getting commercial offers and BEWAKOOFIYAAN is an attempt to enter into that space?
VICKY DONOR is a cult film for me. I was absolutely sure if the film does well and if I will get the appreciation for this character, I'll get varied projects. But since I started with an unconventional film, I was not sure whether I will do conventional films. By the way, BEWAKOOFIYAAN is the only conventional film I am doing. Apart from that every other film I am doing is unconventional.
Why is this love story called BEWAKOOFIYAAN. Is it about goofing up in love or there's an underlying message that being in love is being insane?
Life is about goofing up. It's about committing mistakes, follies, in life. If you don't do bewakoofiyaan in life then there's no point living life. You commit bewakoofiyaan when you are in love and so as in your professional life. Your love life becomes boring. Nothing exciting is happening if you're not committing blunders or probably not falling out of love or falling back in love.
What all bewakoofiyaan you committed in your love and professional life?
'If you are talented and diligent you are desirable among women'
I think getting married early with less bank balance could have been the biggest bewakoofi. But thankfully everything worked out. It's otherwise not a practical option for sure. I was driven by emotions but I'm happy now eventually. Having said that, financial security is important.
Why do all hot men like you tie the knot so early?
(Laughs heartily) I really don't know. Even before I became an actor, I was married. But if you are talented, and diligent you will make that connect of being desirable for all the women.
Do you regret of getting married early?
Thankfully, because I am married, I can focus on my work. Though in college days I enjoyed enough female attention, I am focused now. Tahira doesn't keep a check on me. She trusts me and has been there since childhood. The core nature of mine has not changed at all. I am a shy guy and good I am that. As I said, if you are talented your desirability is always there.
Is Tahira fine with your lip-lock scenes in the films? How does she take it?
Tahira understands well. She isn't insecure. She trusts completely and knows these are mechanical aspects of filmmaking and requirements of a film. So that's fine with her.
We hardly know about your and Tahira's love-story. What all struggles you faced to make it successful?
There was no struggle. We were just family friends and got married after completing our mass communication. In the film I have a khadoos to be father-in-law and have difficult time to convince him. However, it was nothing like that in real. Since we both were interested in music, it was easy to become friends with him.
BEWAKOOFIYAAN's premise of a boy trying to impress his would-be father-in-law reminds of DDLJ.
No, the milieu is so different. He is a NRI and comes back to India. While in BEWAKOOFIYAAN, the heroine has no mother and I don't have parents. So, there's no family drama like DDLJ. The dynamics is between these three characters and their tracks - the father and the daughter, the daughter and her lover and the lover and would-be father in law. These are the characters and dynamics is very simple and straight. It's not over-the top mellow dramatic, funny film. It's a slice-of-life film.
How was it working with a senior actor and star like Rishi Kapoor, who's known for his not-so-easy-going ways?
'Tahira doesn't keep a check on me'
Rishiji is a very experienced as an actor. He is a perfectionist. Rishiji cannot tolerate incompetence, which is okay because he's been part of the industry since so many years, done so many films. Therefore, he expects certain kind of professionalism on set, which is perfectly fine. Under that circumstance, he ends up being more professional.
I am glad that I worked with him. I became a one-take artist because of him. He believes the best performance comes out in the first couple of takes and he is a very natural actor. I became more natural because of him. More than acting I react as I believe in reacting and that's more important. Whatever he used to say, I reacted in that way. I just gave good reactions because of him.
After working with newcomers only, how was it to share screen-space with Sonam Kapoor, who comes from a starry family. How did you break that ice?
When I got to know that Sonam is playing the part next to me, I was little skeptical about our on-screen chemistry. I was wondering how this will work as she is a style icon and I am just the boy-next-door. But when I met her, we started our reading sessions, started spending time on the sets; I realized how simple a girl she is. She's very approachable and lot of fun. Under the garb of being a fashionista, she is a good actor. That proved with RAANJHANAA. This is the first time Sonam is playing herself. This is the first time Sonam is portraying an ambitious working woman, who takes care of her body, looks good. All this while, she played earthy characters in MAUSAM and RANJHANAA.
Did you feel recluse between the two Kapoors?
It's nothing like that Khurrana caught between two Kapoors (giggles). On the contrary, we used to have lunch together, hang-out together. We were shooting in Delhi and the weather was beautiful. We bonded and relished the good food from Rishi Kapoor's daughter's place. So, we were just enjoying each other's company being Punjabis. The punjabi connection worked well!
CHECK OUT: Sonam Kapoor - I never had problem kissing on-screen!
Crooning for your films have become a package deal for your makers?
Once again I have two songs in this film. First being 'O Heeriye', that was my own composition, but it wasn't a part of the film and other one 'Khaama Kha' which I have sung with Neeti Mohan, is a very interesting conversational song that I have not sung in the past. I have sung songs which are very romantic and emotional. 'Khaama Kha' one is a light hearted rendition.
It's nothing about package deal. It depends upon the character. Probably in the next film I may not sing. In DUM LAGA KE HAISHA, I am playing this uneducated Haridwar based guy so you don't expect me to sing here. And if I'll be singing, it will be cheating the character. So my singing completely depends on my character in the film.
After dabbling in so many fields - RJ, anchor, presenter, theatre artist and actor, is direction next on your list?
'I have my own niche of an actor-singer. There is not much crowd here'
Direction is again part of bucket list but that's a long way to be a director. I still want to improve as an actor and singer first. Apart from that I am not afraid of failures since I have experienced them in the past. I am in a position where I am quite fearless.
People who have a flamboyant persona like you can click easily in the industry? How much do good looks matter?
I am not that flamboyant in real. I do play such characters but I am very different kind of Punjabi. I am not a loud Punjabi. On the contrary I am very soft spoken, subtle Punjab boy. In fact, sometimes I feel I am a South-Indian trapped in a North-Indian body. You don't need to have that flamboyance to connect with the masses. If you do certain kind of films and masses love you, you become a star automatically.
How much of a practical person are you?
I am a realist. I am neither pessimist nor over optimistic. I believe and live in the present. But I think it's difficult to be really neutral all the time and not get affected by anything. But I think it comes with experience. I started young and experienced a lot as theatre actor, radio jockey, TV anchor, presenter and now being an actor. So I think I still try to be little detached.
Does competition bother you?
This is the time when every newcomer is doing well. Everyone has got good line-up. They are earning well and doing good for themselves. With competition comes a good opportunity also. This is the best phase to be in Indian Cinema and I have my own niche of an actor-singer. There is not much crowd over here. I have no competition.
- By Rachana Sheth, Glamsham Editorial