India Insight

A Minute With: Ayushmann Khurrana

March 14, 2014

It’s been two years since Ayushmann Khurrana made an unconventional Bollywood debut with “Vicky Donor”, playing a sought-after sperm donor at a fertility clinic.

Despite its bold theme, the romantic comedy was a hit in conservative India and helped Khurrana, a known face on Indian television, gain a foothold in a competitive Hindi film industry.

The 29-year-old actor and singer has three films lined up for release in 2014. “Bewakoofiyaan” opened in cinemas on Friday, starring Khurrana as an ambitious man who loses his job but has to impress his fiancee’s (Sonam Kapoor) cranky father.

Khurrana spoke to Reuters about “Bewakoofiyaan”; why he doesn’t have friends from the movie industry; and why he doesn’t want to do films like “Vicky Donor” again.

What made you decide to become an actor?
I have always been into theatre and singing and public speaking. Also, when I worked in radio and TV, I had a lot of friends from the marketing side and I saw the kind of stress they go through. The targets, the deadlines. I’ve seen it as an outsider and I am not oblivious to them. I knew I didn’t want that.

But there must be some stress in your profession too
There are a lot of stresses. Of course. Sometimes you get a lot of gyaan (advice) from people that you have to maintain a certain image. But I believe that if you are acting on screen, you shouldn’t do it off-screen. I try and do that. But people tell you, you have to play on your USP, work on your image. But I don’t know if I can put up a facade forever. Apart from that, there are a lot of frills to this industry. You have to be a zen master not to get affected by the adulation and praise. You have to be stable to deal with that. Also, it’s not a stable life. There is no guarantee, no pension. You have to slog it out while the going is good.

How do you keep that perspective, especially when you know it won’t last?
When I used to work in TV, I have interviewed people from the industry and I have seen the effects of the adulation and the fame. It was surreal. I realized that you cannot take this too seriously. In fact, when I became an actor the endeavour was not to attract so much attention. The endeavour should be to be ambitious for your craft, rather than for all these things.

You’ve seen this industry as an outsider before. Is it a different place once you are inside?
I don’t want to be an insider. I will always be on the fringes, an outsider. If I watch this city (Mumbai) also as an insider, it will become too boring. From the outside, it looks beautiful. The plan is to do your work and go back to your world. All my friends are doctors, engineers, marketers, etc. I have no industry friends. I have a certain equation with Shoojit Sircar (director of “Vicky Donor”), and with Aditya Chopra (producer of “Bewakoofiyaan”). John Abraham (actor) is like an elder brother, but he is also too busy. Other than that, I don’t have any friends from the industry. I have friends from the music industry, like Raghu Dixit. Musicians are very real, more grounded. In our cinema, actors are always bigger stars. But musicians get a little fame, and a little space. Actors don’t have that space — they are either working all the time, or checking out their pictures in newspapers.

Do you see yourself veering towards music at a later stage then?
Unfortunately, I am more of an actor than a musician. Acting has no rules; it is easy. But music is objective and more difficult.

In “Bewakoofiyaan”, the couple fights over money. How important is money in a relationship?
Money is important, but it depends how much a person is willing to sacrifice if they are marrying someone from a lower strata in life. If you have lesser demands from life, you will be a happier person. If you are used to travelling business class, but marry someone who can’t afford it, it depends if you can sacrifice your lifestyle for love.

After “Vicky Donor”, was there a temptation to say yes to roles that fit the funny guy image?
After “Vicky Donor”, everyone wanted me to play Vicky, but I didn’t want that. I am working on a film called “Dum Lagaa ke Haisha” where I play a rural man who gets married to a fat girl who loves him, but he doesn’t love her. Then I play a Maharashtrian scientist in a film tentatively titled “Bombay Fairytale”. He was a guy called Shivkar Talpade, who made the world’s first unmanned aircraft, before the Wright Brothers. It is based in 1890, and there are only a 100 words written about this guy on Wikipedia. He is an unsung hero. I am doing “1911”, where I play a footballer. I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again.

(Editing by Tony Tharakan; Follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyTharakan and Shilpa @shilpajay |This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •