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10 years of Vicky Donor: 5 reasons why the Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer became a breakthrough hit

Directed by Shoojit Sircar and produced by John Abraham, the National award-winning film was released on 20 April 2012.

Sonal Pandya

In the last decade, Hindi cinema has seen films on erectile dysfunction, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and a late pregnancy. Stories like these, as well those that deal with LGBTQIA+ themes and adoptions, are more commonplace now in mainstream cinema.

However, a decade ago, a story about a young man who becomes a sperm donor was not commonplace at all. Directed by Shoojit Sircar and produced by John Abraham, Vicky Donor was released on 20 April 2012 and became a breakthrough hit that led the way for an important shift in the film industry.

On the film’s 10th anniversary, we look at the five significant factors that led to its success.

1. The script

Today, everyone chases a good story for their feature film or web-series, but the importance of the script began to acknowledged once again with Vicky Donor. Set in Delhi, the film featured a milieu both director Sircar and screenwriter Juhu Chaturvedi were familiar with.

"And once you know the nuances of the city and its people, the food and their way of life, then automatically your courage grows, that you can write more, you can write about these people," Chaturvedi had said at an exclusive workshop held for the second edition of Cinestaan India's Storytellers Contest.

The story followed the humorous yet heart-warming exploits of a 25-year-old unemployed, aimless young man Vicky Arora (Ayushmann Khurrana) who is relentlessly recruited by fertility expert Dr Baldev Chaddha (Annu Kapoor) to donate sperm for his struggling clinic. Eventually, Vicky acquiesces and his life is transformed as he becomes financially secure and falls in love for the first time with bank employee Ashima Roy (Yami Gautam).

In an ironic twist of fate, Vicky and Ashima marry and realize they can’t have children together, leading to an estrangement within the couple once his big secret is exposed. The film deals with these issues and concludes them in a refreshing manner.

2. The casting

Vicky Donor launched two new stars into Hindi cinema — Khurrana, whom audiences knew from reality television, and Yami Gautam, who was also known for her TV work and remained a familiar face in advertisements. The leads sold their characters’ romance, even convincing their Punjabi and Bengali families of their union, and picked a few debut trophies along the way.

The feature also gave Annu Kapoor and Dolly Ahluwalia several moments to shine. Kapoor, as the well-meaning doctor, and Ahluwalia, as Vicky’s caring single mother, won Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress at the 60th National Film Awards.

Not only that, casting director Jogi Mallang found artistes for memorable smaller roles like Kamlesh Gill as Biji, Vicky's grandmother who loves a good drink in the evening, the late Bhupesh Pandya as Chaman, the doctor's helpful assistant, and Jayant Das and Swaroopa Ghosh as Ashima's relatives who initially disapprove of her relationship with Vicky.

3. The subject

Sircar and Chaturvedi tackled the previously taboo subject of sperm donation and infertility with humour and heart. The film shows Vicky being outraged when approached by Dr Chaddha to donate sperm, but it also portrays the woeful doctor as someone who is trying to help parents who can’t conceive naturally.

Vicky Donor also displays the compassion and modern thinking of Vicky’s grandmother and Ashima’s father once the family discovers he is a sperm donor. They play a large role in appeasing the family, especially Ashima, about his past. The film also sensitively handled Ashima’s infertility and her grief and depression about it. It’s a more commonplace subject than one realizes and is not often dealt with on the big screen openly.

In addition to the acting wins, Vicky Donor received the National award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.

4. The direction

Since his second film, Sircar has established himself as a director and producer of repute, bringing forth films like Piku (2015), Pink (2016), October (2018), Gulabo Sitabo (2020) and Sardar Udham (2021). But a decade ago, he was known only for his sensitive debut Yahaan (2005) and had an unreleased film with Amitabh Bachchan.

Vicky Donor was also Sircar’s breakthrough as a filmmaker and laid the way for several themes that were to pop up later in his films — from squabbling families, the Delhi-Kolkata setting, and characters that weren’t afraid to live large. The scene in the film where Vicky’s mother and grandmother share a peg of whisky together in the evening was inspired by an incident with Sircar's late mother.

"People are looking for good content," the director had told the website rediff.com after the film's release. "If you have it, you'll definitely stand a chance. If you have a strong script, let it do all the talking for you."

5. The music

Not only did Vicky Donor launch Khurrana the actor, it also introduced us to Khurrana the musical artiste. He composed, co-wrote and sang the hit number ‘Pani Da Rang’, which also fetched him the Filmfare trophy for Best Male Playback Singer. The song also established the star as one of the few actor-singers as he would go on to sing in a number of his future projects.

Vicky Donor’s musical album was also scored by Abhishek-Akshay, Bann and Rochak Kohli, besides Khurrana. From the romantic track 'Mar Jayian' to the raucous 'Rum Whisky' and the witty ‘Chaddha’, the situational numbers helped establish the story and its setting. 'Mar Jayian' was penned by Swanand Kirkire while 'Chaddha' was written by Vijay Maurya.