Ayushmann Khurrana (born Nishant Khurrana on 14 September 1984) is an Indian actor, singer, and television host. Known for his portrayals of ordinary men often plagued with dysfunction, he is the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award and three Filmfare Awards, and has appeared in Forbes India's Celebrity 100 list of 2013 and 2019.
Khurrana won the second season of reality television show MTV Roadies in 2004 and ventured into an anchoring career. He made his film debut in 2012 with the romantic comedy Vicky Donor, in which his performance as a sperm donor earned him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. Following a brief setback, he starred in the commercially and critically successful romance Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). Khurrana went on to establish himself with the comedies Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017), Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), Badhaai Ho (2018), Dream Girl (2019), and Bala (2019); the thriller Andhadhun (2018); and the crime drama Article 15 (2019).
Andhadhun ranks among the highest-grossing Indian films of all time; Khurrana's performance as a blind pianist won him the National Film Award for Best Actor and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
Interview: Ayushmann Khurrana
"It’s the best time to be a newcomer"
“Ayushmann Khurrana opens up about his self-obsession and his romance with success and failure”
“Don’t look down,” says Ayushmann Khurrana. He’s leading me up a rust-covered steel staircase welded to the back of a five-storey tower, with ivy growth spread over its sides. That’s a panoramic view of the set of his next, Bombay Fairytale. There’s a rustic, timeless quality to the set that enthralls the actor. “I get to shoot at such lovely locations. I love my job.” It would be an understatement to say that Ayushmann’s life has undergone only a few changes in the last two years. Since Vicky Donor, it’s been a 360 degree turn. By his own admission, he’s come from owning a simple car to a high-end BMW. Besides being hailed as a talented newcomer, he’s a gifted singer too. Currently, he even has a contract with the Yash Raj Films. But that’s merely the professional side – the nine-to-five. In his personal life, there’s been marriage and a wonderful son. And, he’s all of 29. Seems sorted? Certainly. What’s more compelling is that he isn’t running after success. For Ayushmann, success is happiness. Read on…
Q. Though independent music doesn’t generally work, your recently released single O heeriye, has done well…
See, I am not a flag bearer for independent music. I have just released my song because of my love for music. I had no aspirations about wanting it to be a super hit. I am glad people liked it. The reason I cut a single was because I only had one release this year.
Q. Now that your single has done well, will you come out with an album soon?
No yaar. I’ll only work on singles because they are practical. I don’t have the time to work on an album. A lot of artistes like Coldplay and John Mayer only release singles. Also, I have three releases next year. Bewakoofian, Hamara Bajaj and Bombay Fairytale. I am singing in all my films. So there’s no point of overfeeding the audience.
Q. Have you dreamt of being a superstar?
Honestly, it scares me yaar. I just want to be happy in life. I want to grow as an actor and a singer. And becoming a superstar is not really in your hands. It depends on your connect with the public. You can’t predict these things. So I don’t aspire to be a superstar. If I don’t become one, I’ll be okay with it.
Q. How has Ayushmann Khurrana changed over the years?
(Laughs) I guess, I’ve started looking better now. Look at me in Vicky Donor and look at me in O heeriye. I am looking so good in the song. On a more serious note, I’ve become a realist over the years.
Q. How so?
I got success and adulation early on in life, when I was just 17. I was in the top five of one of the first reality shows of the country, Popstars. And I was the only boy from Chandigarh to have come to Mumbai and achieved this feat. So I kind of went mad. Mera dimaag kharab ho gaya tha. I even broke up with Tahira (Kashyap, his childhood sweetheart and now wife) at that time because I was getting so much female adulation. I thought I didn’t need her since I had my female fans. It took me a good year to realise how stupid I had been and that all this is transient. But ever since I have realised that, success and failure don’t affect me. Thank God for that.
Q. Tahira and you are in sort of a long-distance marriage, as she lives in Chandigarh. Doesn’t it take a toll on you?
Yes, it does take its toll on you. But I visit Chandigarh for at least five days a month. And she travels with me whenever I go out of the country for a show or a shoot. She comes down to Mumbai whenever she gets the chance. Yes, it is difficult to have a personal life when both of you are busy 24/7, when you have no privacy and when you can’t go out even for a casual dinner without five people interrupting your meal. But we also realise that both of us are building our careers at this point (Tahira is a writer/professor). We have a great understanding between us. It’s probably because we know each other for so long. Touchwood to that. I am glad to have her in my life.
Q. What about your son? Do you get to spend enough time with him?
Yes, I try to. Our first baby (Viraj Veer Khurrana) wasn’t planned. It just happened and he’s God’s gift to us. But I love him the most in the world. I do everything that I can for him and see him whenever possible.
Q. Actors are said to be self-obsessed and rather insensitive to other’s feelings. Does Tahira have similar complaints from you?
We actors are not selfish but sometimes things do get to you. Also, ‘yes men’ don’t help matters either. So you have to have people in your life who keep it real. Sometimes, I do go into that obsessive zone. That I look so good, that my song is the best, etc… But when I do that, Tahira tells me to shut up. She keeps me grounded.
Q. In an industry that’s full of temptation, is it difficult to be faithful?
You get attracted to people. It’s human. But you always have to see the bigger picture. What’s the point of indulging in something that will ruin your relationships and your peace of mind? It’s just not worth it. Getting attracted to someone is okay as long as you don’t act on it.
Q. Of late, there has been a lot of negativity around you. You’ve been written off for being too choosy and rejecting films left, right and centre.
Tell me, who isn’t choosy yaar? So many people are rejecting offers because we want to do good films. It’s easy for newcomers to become punching bags. As long as there’s more positivity than negativity around me, it’s fine.
Q. Who do you see as your competition in the industry today?
I feel it’s the best time to be a newcomer. There’s space for everyone and all my contemporaries are talented. Varun Dhawan is a brilliant dancer. Arjun (Kapoor) has an edge over all of us because he isn’t your typical chocolate boy. He has a rustic look. He’s like the young Ajay Devgn. Sushant (Singh Rajput) is a trained dancer and an experienced actor. Then there’s Aditya Roy Kapur, who’s so earnest and finally, Sidharth Malhotra who’s the best looking of the lot.
Q. Is there any role you’ve seen another actor play that you felt you should’ve done?
I had actually approached Adi Sir (Aditya Chopra) for Shuddh Desi Romance. But he told me that I have already played an earthy character once so I shouldn’t do it. Also, the casting was finalised by then. I agreed with him as my character in Yash Raj’s Bewakoofian is completely different from what I have done so far.
Q. Your Bewakoofian co-star, Sonam Kapoor, is rather fond of you…
Sonam Kapoor is a simple girl in the guise of a style icon. During the mahurat of the film, when we were doing the havan, Sonam knew every single shlok the pundit was reciting. It was amazing. Even the pundit was shocked. She’s so rooted.
Q. The industry is unforgiving of failure. How prepared are you?
Well, that’s how life is in every industry. I have witnessed failures in the past so I know how to deal with it. Plus, I’m not insecure. As a realist, you have to have a plan B. I’ve seen so much, so I do have one. That’s why I sing and run a jewellery business. In fact, once, I even told Rochak Kohli (co-composer of Paani da from Vicky Donor) that if my acting career fails, I will make music with him for life.
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