Interview Hindi

Bala was the perfect script for us to come back together: Yami Gautam on starring with Ayushmann


Actress Yami Gautam speaks about the need for self-love, her latest collaboration with Vicky Donor (2012) co-star Ayushmann Khurrana, and insecurities.

Shriram Iyengar

Yami Gautam has no doubt about the quality of Bala's script. "It was the perfect script for us to come back with," she says to emphasize the point.

The 'us' the actress is referring to is herself and her first Hindi co-star Ayushmann Khurrana. The two artistes made their debuts in Hindi cinema — Gautam had already worked in the South and in Punjabi cinema — with the Shoojit Sircar comedy Vicky Donor (2012).

Since then, Khurrana has grown in stature to become a trailblazing actor, and his recent run of four hits in a row has even turned him into a box-office star.

But that has not changed him, says Gautam. "In terms of work, I think it is the same energy, the same commitment," says the actress who turns 31 this month. "He has the same passion to create something. He being Bala already, and me being Pari, it felt the same. There was no defining moment about us coming back together and working again."

Director Amar Kaushik's Bala will see Yami Gautam play the dream girl of Khurrana's balding, insecure man. Also featuring Bhumi Pednekar, Bala is set for release on Thursday 7 November. Excerpts from a media interaction with the actress:

This is your first film with Ayushmann Khurrana after Vicky Donor (2012). In this span of time, have the dynamics changed? What is it like now?

More or less the same. I think it was the same feeling working with him. The only thing that has changed is that we eat less now. We used to eat a lot all the time during Vicky Donor. 

In terms of work, I think it is the same energy, the same commitment. He has the same passion to create something. He being Bala already, and me being Pari, it felt the same. There was no defining moment about us coming back together and working again.

But have the equations changed? During Vicky Donor, both of you were newbies.

Well, if anything, we have more to talk about now because we have Vicky Donor as a reference point. We keep talking that Bala was the best script for us to come back together. There were opportunities where people wanted to cast us together, but Bala was the perfect script for us to come back.

With Ayushmann Khurrana in Vicky Donor (2012)

Since the film speaks about personal insecurities, did you have any insecurities of your own when you started out in the film industry?

I started off at a time when I had no idea of insecurity, the true meaning of it. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Living here, when 20,000 judgements and opinions come your way, about the films you do, the way you look, that is what makes you hesitate. It grows on you. It is obviously not good, and you realize with time and experience that this will never end.

There are insecurities, and of course I had them. There are so many opinions. You should stop thinking about them and focus on your own strengths. You have got to work. You have to do good work and prove yourself. You are absolutely alone in this journey.

Is there a danger of being stereotyped in such a case, and how do you navigate this danger to find roles that you like?

Even Ashima [her character in Vicky Donor] was an acting-orientated role, because it was not a very conventional film. If she is looked at in a certain way, looks a certain way, many roles of the same type were coming my way. It is very important to keep working on yourself, and reinventing yourself one way or another to get diverse roles.

Yami Gautam in Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019)

Kaabil (2017) again, I felt, was a very sensitive performance. Uri (2019) again was about the army and the entire operation. I feel weird that I have to project that I play a strong woman. Male actors don't have to explain they are playing a strong guy. Why? Perception. You really have to work hard, and people like me have to put in a lot of effort to prove yourself. That's okay, it is my job.

This is your second release this year after Uri: The Surgical Strike. Are you choosing to associate with good-content films at this point of time rather than prime leading roles?

As I said, I have to be really careful with what I do. Not everything will pay off. Today, I feel like I don't want to do something just for the sake of it. I want to do diverse roles; some of them might not do well. Hope not (laughs). But I want to associate myself with a subject that is not flimsy, not run-of-the-mill and done for the sake of it. I want to work with good filmmakers, on strong roles.

In Bala, you won't focus on the role as much as on the story. Of course, you cannot make everyone happy all the time. If someone has to complain, they will do so even if there is a biopic on you. I am very proud of Bala. I am looking forward to this one.