Ayushmann Khurrana: “My aspiration was always to give good content…”

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It seems there’s no stopping him when it comes to delivering good cinema but, of the last six years since his debut, 2018 has been the year that has changed it all. With two releases  – ‘Andhadhun’ and ‘Badhaai Ho’ – this year having been appreciated in pretty much every quarter, noone would blame Ayushmann Khurrana for being on a high and looking back with pride at the year that’s been.

BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the actor recently to round up on his most successful year at the box office.

You’ve had an amazing year professionally and perhaps a challenging one personally. When you look back, how would you describe it?
I’d say it’s been a great year and such a professional high with two films back to back, critical and commercial success. Of course, Tahira has been diagnosed with cancer but she’s always been a part of my journey and it is only because of her spirit and her positivity that this year has been good. Even now, as we speak, she’s doing pre-production for her film. Because of her attitude and her inspiring nature, this year has been the best year.

Ever since you’ve started your career, you’ve taken up quite unconventional roles. Do you feel a pressure to now keep to that?
Well, from now on there will be a different kind of pressure for numbers than there ever has been before. My aspiration was always to give good content and that’s about it. With Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho achieving the crores at the box office, it’s a different thing altogether. There are lots of expectations for critical acclaim but also for huge commercial success. I think it’s not going to be easy but I’ll keep it simple and keep choosing great content. I think the numbers will come with that because I feel the audience has matured a lot. They want to see something unique and different each and every single time. I’ll still follow my gut with the same honesty and I think the commercial numbers will follow at the same time.

Forbes have recently branded you as “Mr Dependable”. Is that a word you would use for yourself?
(Laughs) I really don’t know. Of course, this is because of the kind of cinema I am doing and the kind of consistency I’ve got on the box office and the critique equally. That name has come with that, I guess. I think it’s a good tag to have. I would like to maintain that. I’d like to choose a different kind of cinema which also entertains people. I am proud of this tag but wasn’t expecting that from Forbes. There’s no agenda to be called that but it just comes with the cinema I’ve been doing which I want to do next year as well.

You have mentioned that your focus has been on good content. Does that tie in with delivering fresh content too?
Absolutely. I was a part of original content since my first film so whatever I’m doing will be fresh content because that’s hasn’t been reference in the films in the past. Even with my next two films – Dreamgirl and Bala – they are unique in their mentality. The menu may be the same or the language might be here or there but the subject and content will be different.

The online platforms have quite literally taken India and its content by storm. Could you see yourself in a web-series of some sort?
I think is this depends on the script and the content. If it was something that would attract me or if lets me work with somebody I really want to work with then I would go for it. In this medium, the censorship is more lenient so it can be more edgy. Right now, if I get an opportunity that’s very unique then I’d definitely go for it.

Touching on the filmmakers you’ve worked with, would you say they have been more daring than others with the content?
Well, it comes with the script to begin with and I guess I’ve only worked with one A-list filmmaker until now; that is Sriram Raghavan. Most of the other filmmakers were more fresh or were art filmmakers. Sriram Raghavan has always been edgy with content but with the others… I’ve never worked with directors who were right up there. For example, Shoojit Sircar became a big name after Vicky Donor. Sharad Katariya became a big name after Dum Laga Ke Haisha. Amit Sharma became a big name after Badhaai Ho. So I think you have to give something unique. So yes, daring as you say, or risky in a unconventional way with a convincing steer to achieve something which they did with these scripts.

Do you ever see yourself going towards a mainstream masala film at all?
It again depends on the content. I’ve never done one but I would love to do one if there is a novelty factor within the story.

In your career, which film would you say is your favourite?
Dum Laga Ke Haisha is very close to my heart. That’s one film where the tonality of it is very European cinema like. It was very well shot and the subject was very relevant. My character was despicable in the first half but that film is very special.

Is there anything in particular you would say to those who have suddenly started taking notice of you who perhaps didn’t pay too much attention to you before?
I don’t really know what to say (laughs). Whether they’re my films or someone else’s… I don’t know what to say.

If you could go back to your own self when you were 16-years-old, what advice would you give?
Take it easy. I was so edgy and so iffy. When I was 16, I was just so nervous about what would happen to me because, in my head, I always wanted to be an actor but I wasn’t able to confess this to my parents and to my friends. Because of peer pressure, I chose science over art. However, if I was 16 again, I’d probably choose arts. I would also study more literature and do more theatre if I was 16. And I’d stay more focused.

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