What sets Ayushmann Khurrana’s performance apart from others is the effortlessness with which he gets into his characters. Since his Bollywood debut with Vicky Donor in 2012, Ayushmann has played many versions of Dilli da munda and each character has been starkly different from the other— a testament to his acting chops. The actor has had a successful run this year at the box office with Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho. The actor is elated that the films have been critical and commercial successes. In a freewheeling chat, the actor talks about his films, money and his wife Tahira.
Excerpts from the interview:
Not every actor is fortunate to have back-to-back successful films. How is the feeling?
It’s really great; you feel encouraged and blessed. I did Andhadhun for my love for cinema, Sriram Raghavan’s genre and the uniqueness of the script. With Andhadhun, we were expecting good critical acclaim but the kind of money it made was overwhelming. With Badhaai Ho, I was sure and it was a clear yes from my side.
So, have you hiked your fee?
I don’t do films for money. If I connect with a film, I will do it. When I was approached for Andhadhun, I told Sriram to give me whatever he deems right. I did not demand anything because I did that film for a reason. I don’t know the rules of the industry but I will do events for money, dance in weddings for money but will do films only for love for art. Money has never been the driving force for me.
What keeps you grounded?
Life, in general, is a great leveller. I have gone through a lot in life. Right now, my wife is battling with breast cancer so it just shows that no one’s life is perfect. That keeps you level headed and gives you a perspective to understand what is more important in life. It’s surreal what’s happening right now. I have my career high and Tahira is suffering from cancer. The day Andhadhun got its biggest opening, it was her first day of chemo and I was sitting next to her in the hospital.
What has been your learning curve?
I always have a reality check and don’t live in a delusional world. I know where I stand and as an actor, it is very important to know who you are. Let’s not get swayed by the glamour world. Also, failures teach you a lot.
Are you open to criticism?
I always take criticism positively. It is important because eventually, we are working for the audience and their viewpoints should be taken into consideration. However, social media criticism doesn’t affect me much.
Tahira battling with cancer was a shocker to everyone but the way she is dealing with it is so inspiring…
She has a great spirit and is a very positive person. It is stage one so it is curable. It’s just the next three months that’s going to be tough. I hope life will be fine again.
It seems Tahira has been highly influential in your life?
She has always been part of my journey right from my college days. We were in the same theatre groups and we have been together since we were 18. I am very proud of her because she is a part of my success as she has always read scripts of mine. She has been a positive influence in my life and I have learnt a lot from her. Tahira has made a gentleman out of me so I think whoever I am is because of her.
Your choice of films has been commendable. Do you take anyone’s advice before signing up for a project?
I believe in my gut. My first reaction to any film is the most organic one and it’s proven generally right. If at all I have any second thoughts about a film, Tahira is around as she reads my scripts.
Also as an actor are you hesitant to turn down offers?
It used to be very difficult for me initially. I used to ignore calls earlier because I wasn’t comfortable saying no. But now, I have become honest and people respect me for that. I have become clearer in my head.