“My first audition of life happened because of Raghu (ex-host of MTV Roadies),” says Ayushmann Khurrana.
In an exclusive conversation, the actor, who is seen in a different avatar in ‘Dream Girl’, talks about the film, his character in it, how he balances between naughtiness and vulgarity while posing as a woman in this film, his criteria of selecting a script, how he deals with trolls or negative comments in social media, etc.
You won National Award and that’s a huge achievement. So, now how are you planning your career forward? And is there any pressure that you are facing because of this huge achievement?
National Award is a very happy pressure and a happy responsibility that I have right now. National Award is actually a perfect validation of that fact that my choices are right. So I don’t have to think about anything else or change my formula or even my way of thinking or approach towards the script. I want to keep my basics right, and don’t have to get overwhelmed by the name of the director, producer and co-actors. I just want go with the material and the script.
Apart from winning a National Award, you also had five consecutive hits. So is there any change into people’s behavior around you and their perception or attitude towards you?
I just want to try different things, and not thinking about back-to-back successes. For me, ‘Dream Girl’ is very different, where to be precise, completely different from my previous films. It is the most masala and commercial film that I have got till date. I think I have gone in to the zone of 90s comedy, and have taken Govinda ji out of me.
Apart from playing Lokesh Bisht in ‘Dream Girl’, you have also played a fake girl called as Pooja in the film. So how this Poojapan will affect in your personal life?
My films never affect my personal life. I never take the character home. I am a very detached kind of person. Also, I don’t watch my films more than once; otherwise I will fall in love with myself (laughs), because then you will not think about anything else if self-obsession happens. Shooting another film right after my previous can only be done because I can easily detach myself from my character.
As today’s actor and composer, what is your take on the famous yesteryear song ‘Dream Girl…Kisi Shayar Ki Ghazal’ and Laxmikant-Pyarelal who composed that song?
Laxmikant-Pyarelal are legends and I guess they started very young with ‘Parasmani’ when they were hardly in their 20s. And this song is very different, because having an English word in a Hindi song at that time is something very unusual, as people were more focusing on Urdu words. Normally, Laxmikant-Pyarelal ji were used to team up with Anand Bakshi saab (lyricist). Apart from this, I still feel that Hema Malini ji is a perfect dream girl in our Indian cinema.
There’s a lot of saying that Khans should learn to select scripts from Ayushmann. So, what’s your take on that?
I think, it’s very unfair to say that. We guys from the new generation still have to spend 20-25 years in the industry for to give consistent hit films. I think, there’s No Comparison here.
What are your Criteria in selecting a script? Do you usually take any kind of suggestion from someone else?
No, I don’t take suggestion from anybody, and usually goes with my guts only. But yes, my wife and manager read my scripts. Apart from this, I keep my basics right. Firstly, it has to be an absolute fresh concept for our Indian Cinema. Secondly, the script should hold our audience for at least 2-hours of runtime. And lastly, it should have some kind of Value addition in it. That’s all!
During Article 15, you said that you felt something great after wearing a uniform of police. Now during Dream Girl, what kind of feeling you had after being a girl in it?
Nothing happened that great (laughs), but it was just so difficult thing in being a girl. I am talking here in terms of physicality, because I have to shave my beard again-and-again, have to a lot of make-up and dressing. Also, you have to feel like a girl and have that body-language if you are in that character. So, it’s tough in becoming a girl.
Did you take any inspiration from other movies or actors, where a hero became a woman and enacted in that way?
Yes, there were inspirations like Govinda in Aunty No. 1 and also Kamal Haasan in Chachi 420. But I think, Kamal Hassan sir was legendary in that film.
There’s always a thin line between naughtiness and vulgarity while posing as a woman in a film. So how do you balance between these two while enacting as a girl in this film?
Actually, the idea was to do a complete diagonal opposite to my very serious dark film ‘Article 15’. I wanted to do something which should be completely light and not even considered my zone, and ‘Dream Girl’ is that film. I have grown-up watching slapstick films like Haseena Maan Jayegi and Shola Aur Shabnam, which is not only called as funny films but as well considered as commercial success films, and ‘Dream Girl’ is that kind of film.
From being your first job as an RJ after completing post-graduation in Journalism to now as a National Award winner, did you had any kind of self-doubt in your career with respect to choosing films or career in your life?
Yes, it happened only once when Hawaizaade didn’t work. I was actually questioning myself with what’s going wrong with my choices, but that was great learning for me because if that wouldn’t have happened then this wouldn’t have happened. So, thanks to my all non-successful films with what I am today right now. However, thankfully Dum Laga Ke Haisha happened after Hawaizaade, which fortunately worked for everyone.
After Dum Laga Ke Haisha, your next film ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ was a beautiful film, but also somehow didn’t work at the box-office. So what you would like to say about that?
I actually gave my heart and soul for the character I played in that film. I loved that character, but don’t know what went wrong. I also got mixed responses from everywhere about the film, even in my family. Nonetheless, the film and that character are very close to my heart.
Your sexy voice in ‘Dream Girl’ is quite being appreciated by everybody now. So in Bollywood, whom do you think has a sexy voice among actresses?
Actually, I always wanted to sound sexy in my film and Dream Girl gave me that opportunity. But coming back to your question, I think Priyanka Chopra’s voice is very sexy and so is Rani Mukerji’s.
Talking about social media, did you face any trolls or any negative comments? If yes then how do you deal with that?
I am quite active on social media, and remember that a person tweeted me as a flop actor immediately after ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ got released. I was about to reply that person with ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a legit hit film’. But then I realized that what’s the point? If I have become a hit actor, nobody tweet that, because everybody tweets about hit film first and then the actor. So after that I told myself that I will now onwards make sure my all films become successful. Hence, I always put my script ahead of my character. And my only aspiration is to give successful films, instead to become a successful actor.
After hearing your song ‘Paani Da Rang’, Preity Zinta and Salman Khan gave some great compliments like you have a beautiful voice. So when are we going to see you singing more, or probably opening a YouTube channel of your own with some great singles in it?
I am actually singing in each of my films, where lately I sang a song in “Article 15” too. However, I would love to do more singing, making a band or creating singles in between my films, but the release dates are so tight at the moment. So, maybe Next Year.
You won the second season of reality television show MTV Roadies in 2004 and then ventured into an anchoring career. Tell us something about that phase of your life? And also from then till now, what’s that one thing that made your journey successful?
I am actually a really good friend of Raghu (host of MTV Roadies) and he is the first person in Bombay who really helped me out to make my portfolio and then everything related to it. In fact, my first audition of life happened because of Raghu and then also joined MTV because of Raghu. Apart from this, you just have to think about how differently you can do things in life, and how you have your own space in this world. Also, there’s has to be some vision and not only talent in your life. Everybody is talented around us, but if you have a certain vision then that makes your journey more interesting and successful.