Ayushmann Khurrana’s career is a testament to the fact that one film can change it all and every Friday is nothing short of an opportunity to reinvent yourself. His rollercoaster year in 2015 saw him do just that. After the disappointingly forgettable Haiwazaada, he was close to written-off, only to come back with a bag within weeks with the release of Dum Laga Ke Haisha which went on to become one of the most adored films of the year.
Instances like this, as well as his acclaimed debut in the wonderfully refreshing and in many ways game-changing Vicky Donor have left him with the tag of ‘unconventional actor’, a label he takes great pride in. In a phone interview with Magic of Bollywood, he talks about his upcoming Meri Pyaari Bindu, why this may well be his year and why he loved La La Land.
It’s been over two years since you’ve graced the big screen with your presence, where have you been?
I’ve been shooting multiple films. One is Meri Pyaari Bindu which is coming out on the 12th. Then I’ve also finished Bareilly Ki Barfi which is coming out somewhere in July and then Shubh Mangal Savdhaan will be out in September. So yeah, I’ve finished 3 films which is why there’s been a delay. One of them could have released earlier, but this year I’m compensating with 3 back to back releases.
Tell us about what attracted you to Meri Pyaari Bindu.
This film is quite normal in a way because it’s related to retro Indian music and every song has a particular memory attached to it which is what makes you love the songs and that kind of arc has never been attempted in Indian cinema so that really attracted me to the part.
This is director Akshay Roy’s first feature film. In your career, you’ve had a relative balance between working with established directors and first-timers. What would you say are the biggest differences between working the two kinds?
Actually, even in my last film Dum Laga Ke Haisha, director Sharat Katariya only became ‘Sharat Katariya’ after the release of the film and so it was almost like his first film because his first film (10ml Love) didn’t really do well. So I guess if the production house is big and if you have someone like Aditya Chopra backing the film and Maneesh Sharma creatively involved, then you’re sure it’s going to be a decent product which is what happened with Meri Pyaari Bindu. With Akshay Roy, even though he’s a first-time director, he’s a bright guy with the right sensibilities, his short film (The Finish Line) won a National Award and he’s been in the industry for the last 10 years assisting a lot of big names. It’s also a Yash Raj film, so you know it’s going to be a good outing.
One thing that really stands out about Meri Pyaari Bindu is the clear attempt to opt for a different kind of marketing strategy – unfolding in chapters rather than going for the traditional trailer. Do you feel more films need to be marketed in different, more innovative ways rather than using the same old approach?
Of course, because marketing is an important tool these days because too many films are releasing and there’s a lot of clutter in the market and at the same time we have to try and be different each time. So I’m glad that they chose this 5-chapter strategy. I play a writer in the film and each chapter is a different chapter of life between Abhimanyu and Bindu and it attracted a lot of attention because people love nostalgia and we were pushing each chapter followed by a song. I think that’s a good marketing strategy of being different and in line with the film.
Is there a specific kind of role that you’re raring to do that you haven’t yet had a chance to do?
I’d love to do a thriller because I’ve been doing a lot of slice-of-life, light films. These kinds of films work for me because their unconventional roles and I’m an unconventional actor. So I’d love to do a thriller for sure.
Back in your RJ days, you used to conduct many interviews yourself. Does it still somewhere feel weird being on the other side of them? Do you ever think about how you’re being interviewed as compared to how you used to go about it?
At times yeah. But there are a lot of talented people around and they do a great job with interviews – even that market is quite competitive. I mean they come out with crazy ideas to do interviews. I haven’t had time to think about it because I think I’ve given that world of hosting and anchoring a break. It may come back in the future but as of now, I’ll just concentrate on acting and singing.
What’s your view on the landscape of critics in India? Do you read reviews of your films?
Of course, every single time. The kind of films I do really depend on word of mouth which also includes reviews. Even Dum Laga Ke Haisha did really well because they got solid reviews and because of that word of mouth the collections got better every day. So yes I definitely read reviews and I’m glad that in a span of 5 years I’ve been a part of National Award winning films which have been positively reviewed.
What’s the last film you saw that had a profound impact on you?
I loved La La Land, I thought it was incredible. The music, the acting, the connect it had, the nostalgia. I’m a huge fan of the film.