It was the best of times and the worst of times for Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana in 2018. On the professional front, he enjoyed a phenomenal year with two unassuming blockbusters ‘Andhadhun’ and ‘Badhaai Ho’. However, his wife Tahira Kashyap was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer forcing the actor to take stock of the unpredictability of their existence.
“Life is the greatest leveller,” said Khurrana in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!.
“The only promise I have made to myself is that I will choose unique content … How did we miss the subject of receding hairlines? Baldness is a problem that people face since time immemorial … What took us so long to make a film about it. It’s a goldmine of an idea?”
Khurrana, who began his career in 2012 with an unusual comedy ‘Vicky Donor’, which was about sperm donation in India, is in no mood to let life overwhelm him. His next film is directed by Amar Kaushik of ‘Stree’ fame and delves into the life of a young man grappling with premature balding.
“It’s a goldmine of an idea,” said Khurrana. We couldn’t agree more.
The actor, who has made bold and provocative career choices, is a walking testament to choosing wisely. While he doesn’t claim to be an expert in things, Khurrana’s blazing career indicates a life well-lived.
Gulf News tabloid! gleaned important life lessons from our chat with the actor. Here are our nine take-aways from our conversation…
1. FOLLOWING FORMULAE IS PASSE:
“I am not going to blow my trumpets yet. But I will admit that I felt a great sense of validation from the choices I have made in terms of movies starting from my first film ‘Vicky Donor’. I have not followed any formula for success in my life. But look at how things panned out in my life. ‘Andhadhun’ and ‘Badhaai Ho’ has turned out to be the best films of the year. I was in love with both the scripts the moment I heard them. I was expecting a certain [box office result] for both films, but it surpassed my expectations… But I am not going to blow my trumpet yet.”
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE:
“These days, viewers have so many choices. With just a click on their phone, the entertainment is served right then and there. So naturally, they want to see something unique. We need to get our basics right and work on the script. 2018 has been a great year for scriptwriters and content creators.”
3. IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU:
“I always keep the stories ahead of me. I am not self-obsessed as an actor. I am just obsessed with finding good stories. Give me a good story and I will definitely hold on to it with all my strength. It’s not about my role or the part that I am offered. I need to know about the entire storyline. In ‘Badhaai Ho’, everybody in that household was a hero of the film and the viewers were rooting for The Kaushiks, the entire family and not just one member.”
4. BE ADVENTUROUS AND BE A RISK-TAKER:
“I want to try everything in my career. What was a no-go zone for other actors was a complete OK zone for me to delve into. From erectile dysfunction [‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’] to tackling parent’s late pregnancy [‘Badhaai Ho’] to being a body shamer [‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’], you saw me experiment in my career. It was my love for experiments that got me here and with each film my belief to experiment has gotten stronger. Always believe in your sensibilities and I have never hesitated while making brave choices… For instance, Sriram Raghavan is a contemporary filmmaker. He shoots in the most novel way possible. He will give you a screenplay in English and then gives you dialogues on sets which call for a lot of on-the-spot improvisations… It was so challenging. But ultimately, it was a learning experience for me.”
5. EVOLUTION IS INEVITABLE AND LIFE IS THE BIGGEST LEVELLER:
“I have evolved as a human being in 2018. I don’t consider myself as an ‘extreme’ person, but I have experienced professional highs and personal lows [Khurrana’s wife was diagnosed with cancer] last year. You need to attain a certain spiritual awareness to deal with events that are thrown at you. But I am glad that I have a partner who is brave and positive. Not once did she crib: ‘why me? or why is this happening to me’. Her brave stand gave me a lot of strength. I realised that life can be a great leveller. You need to embrace the imperfections of life. All you can do is accept, move ahead and fight it out.”
6. BE RESILIENT:
“2018 was a year of reckoning. It made me realise that we need to be strong as human beings. We are vulnerable, but handling situations can only make you stronger. Try being level-headed when a rocky situation hits you and try not to let it overwhelm you.”
7. RESOLUTIONS ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE:
“I am not your usual ‘make a resolution on New Year’s Eve’ person. I consider myself as a balanced individual. You can set resolutions at any time in your life. It is not necessary that you need to resolve to do something at the beginning of a new year. Keeping resolutions just on new year makes you prone to break it.”
8. YOU ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT:
“I wanted a different ending for ‘Andhadhun’ [a thriller in which he played a blind pianist who witnesses a murder, but the ending suggested that he wasn’t blind]. I wanted the ending to be more clearer. The way ‘Andhadhun’ ended with me kicking the can, so there was a possibility that I kicked it by mistake in the viewers’ minds. I had my own parallel ending throughout the shoot. I told Sriram sir that we should show him as walking on the streets, stopping, kicking the puddle to make it absolutely obvious. He didn’t agree and I am so glad that he didn’t. I was happy with the film overall… The story is always bigger than the actor.”
9. LIFE IS YOUR BIGGEST TEACHER:
“We need to live life to become better actors. I begin work at around 7.30am and I am on the sets for a good part of my life. So I haven’t had the time to watch many films although I would have loved to watch films like ‘Raazi’ and ‘Manto’. I believe that you need to live life to be good as performers. There’s no substitute to living life.”
“The only promise I have made to myself is that I will choose unique content … How did we miss the subject of receding hairlines? Baldness is a problem that people face since time immemorial … What took us so long to make a film about it. It’s a goldmine of an idea?” — Ayushmann Khurrana on his next project.