Interview Hindi

I have started concentrating on concepts and scripts: Ayushmann Khurrana on Andhadhun, Badhaai Ho

At a recent media interaction, the actor clarified on his approach to unique scripts, his audition with Sriram Raghavan and working with Tabu. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

That Ayushmann Khurrana's star is on the rise is an obvious fact. After the success of Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Bareilly Ki Barfi last year, the actor has delivered two more impressive films in Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho. 

In a recent media interaction during the promotions of Badhaai Ho, Khurrana spoke about his changing approach to picking stories. "Eventually, the script is the winner," he said adding that he once picked films based on their director, leads, or production houses. 

"Actors are sometimes self-obsessed and want their role to be the best in the film. But unless you look at the script in totality, it won't work out," he said. 

The actor also revealed that he was desperate to work with Sriram Raghavan, and even auditioned for the director. "If you are confident about your art, and people have never seen you in that light, you should convince the director," he stated. 

The actor's latest, Badhaai Ho, directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma features Sanya Malhotra, Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao in a quirky, slice-of-life comedy. The film was released in theatres on 18 October. 

Following are excerpts from the interaction. 

You have an uncanny knack of picking good scripts. After Andhadhun, it was Badhaai Ho. Amit Sharma told us that you agreed to the film on first narration itself. Is that true?

If I hear a good script, I cannot resist it. I have to do it. Then I don't think about other things. When I heard the one liner for Badhaai Ho, I immediately said yes to it. This was only the second time in my life, after Dum Laga Ke Haisha, that I have done something like that. 

This was one of the better scripts I have heard. I am glad I made this choice. 

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What if you encountered a situation like this in real life. What would your reaction be?

I would have reacted the same way I did in the film (laughs). That was one of the things that drew me to the story. When you act first, you always think about your reaction in real life. 

This used to happen in the past, now not so much. The film seeks to propagate, first that parents have a right to love. The second thing is that their pregnancy gets new reactions. The film deals with how they are reacting to it, how society and neighbours make fun of them. 

Apart from that, it is also about the entire family. each and every family member has a well-etched role. 

How was it working with such experienced actors?

In fact, I have always worked with experienced actors since my first film. It is good to have experienced actors, it brings more to the film. When they are acting, you get better reactions and vice versa. 

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You recently said you auditioned for Andhadhun. Tell us a bit about that.

In fact, I approached Sriram Raghavan myself for Andhadhun. I called him and said I want to work with you. He was like 'You were not in my radar. You have not done a thriller or a dark, quirky film like this.' I was like, 'Why don't you take an audition.' The next day, I shot a couple of scenes, and he was happy with it. 

There are few actors who do that nowadays. Were you at all insecure about doing it?

If you are confident about your art, and people have never seen you in that light, you should convince the director. 

The role always depends on the script. Sometimes the role is good, but the script is not. Actors are sometimes self-obsessed and want their role to be the best in the film. But unless you look at the script in totality, it won't work out. 

After Vicky Donor, I had three duds. But I realised in my other films, I have been surrounded by a great support cast. From Bareilly to Shubh Mangal to Badhaai Ho...eventually the script is important. 

What sets Sriram Raghavan apart?

He has changed the perception of a lot of the actors over the years. Right from Ek Hasina Thi (2004), it changed the perception of Saif Ali Khan in the industry . With Badlapur (2015), it was Varun. This time it's me. He is a game changer. He is very young with his way of functioning. 

Sriram Raghvan and Ayushmann Khurrana. Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Did the response to Andhadhun surprise you?

When you are doing a film, you do it diligently. That's all. Whatever response I am getting is overwhelming. When I finish a film, I detach myself from the film and move on to the next one. I was very balanced in my head that way. 

The success of Andhadhun only helps Badhaai Ho. It spreads the positivity around me about my films. It will only help the film. The trailer is looking bright, and people are talking about it. I am glad that has happened. 

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Has the failure of early films changed the way you pick films now?

I think that was my initial phase. Immediately after Vicky Donor (2012). But yes, you question yourself as to what went wrong with the films. You try to avoid that. I have become more intuitive. Earlier I would take a lot of opinions on every script. 

I used to look at every film as a project — this is the hero, this is the heroine, the producer, the studio brand etc. Eventually, only the script works. So I have started concentrating on the concepts, and the scripts. I am working mostly with new directors and scriptwriters. Andhadhun is the only time I have gone with an 'A' list director. 

How have you changed in these years?

I have become clear minded. More decisive. I used to be a little cautious, and hesitant. Now I am more decisive on what I want to do. 

Is there anyone you trust for opinions on scripts, or do you not do that anymore?

Of course, there is. I have two mentors — Shoojit Sircar and Aditya Chopra. My wife [Tahira Kashyap] is my biggest bouncing board, and reads all my scripts. 

So why don't A-list directors approach you?

It is not like that. They have approached me, and I have sometimes rejected them. The key is the script. It doesn't matter if your first film was a hit, it is the script that you have right now. A flop director can have a hit script.

After Raghavan, who is the director you want to work for?

Shimit Amin. I think he needs to come back. He has given some great films to us. 

With back to back movies, do you work on your music?

In these two films, I have sung songs. In Andhadhun I have sung a song, and even with Badhaai Ho. I am getting time to record songs, but I am not gigging these days. I am not doing concerts. That will happen after the release. 

How was the experience working with Sanya Malhotra?

She is very good. This is the first time she is playing an urban character and is very good at it. There is also the class divide — she plays someone from an upperclass family, while I play someone from a middle class. There's a nice track about that. 

That must be very different than working with Tabu. What sets her apart?

She is one of the most versatile actresses ever. She has evolved with changing times. She can do a hardcore commercial in Golmaal Again (2017), then Cheeni Kum (2007), and Andhadhun (2018). 

Ayushmann Khurrana and Tabu. Photo: Shutterbugs Images

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Do you have any projects next on your plate? Or are you taking a break?

I have a one month break. I have a couple of interesting scripts, but I have not decided. I have not got anything on the digital front, but I would love to explore that as well. If something radical and something completely different comes my way.