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Updated: March 16, 2014 19:58 IST

One among us

ANUJ KUMAR
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Ayushmann Khurrana is on a roll with some unconventional roles. Photo: Nagara Gopal
The Hindu Ayushmann Khurrana is on a roll with some unconventional roles. Photo: Nagara Gopal

Ayushmann Khurrana is fast emerging as the industry’s favourite boy-next-door. The writer speaks to the Chandigarh boy who has a penchant for picking unconventional roles

“I have yet to do a routine film, a conventional role. It is a challenge in itself,” says Ayushmann Khurrana on picking a rather straitjacketed rom com Bewakoofiyaan after Vicky Donor and Nautanki Saala. “The character of Mohit Chaddha is closer to me than what I played in my first two movies. I can easily relate to a guy who lost his job but not his confidence during recession.” But the way director Nupur Asthana has mounted it, it seems like a chick lit.

“Sonam (Kapoor, his co-star) also felt something similar but to me it is more like a slice of life. Also the fact that Habib Faisal wrote it made me confident. He always lends some insight into the milieu and characters. The boy loses his job when the airline he is working with chucks out people. Now we know something similar happened when Kingfisher closed down some time back.”

Ayushmann feels our romantic comedies take too many things for granted. “Both the boy and girl are ambitious and the boy doesn’t mind taking help from the girl in the time of crisis. This kind of behaviour is not expected in a mainstream Hindi film where the hero seldom gets into a financial mess and if he does he becomes a millionaire by the end of the film to prove a point. Only the father’s character is conventional here,” he reasons.

Ayushmann feels he has been lucky in terms of his career moves. “When I came out of college and became a radio jockey, the FM scene was expanding, when I joined television as an anchor, the reality shows were on a high and when I made a move to film, Hindi cinema is exploring fresh faces and stories.”

He is among the top faces, who have made an impact in the last couple of years. And unlike the Bandra boys who open their eyes in a film studio and learn on the job, these are boys who have seen life and faced rejection. The Chandigarh boy has had a solid grounding in theatre before he emerged on the scene with Roadies. “The nepotism has come down considerably in the industry. It is not that it is the first time actors from outside the film fraternity are joining the film industry but it is perhaps the first time that so many directors are coming from outside. It has helped in changing the outlook towards the stories and presentation of characters. We have more idea about how everyday people behave and react to situations. Also, I have spent years in school and college without getting any attention so I value it.”

But now there are reports emanating from the industry that Ayushmann is arrogant. “It can’t be farther from truth. Yes, I am choosy and I have every right to be because it is a matter of my career.”

Ayushmann is also being noticed as a singer. “I am. It is something I kept a secret during my television days. Music adds rhythm to whatever I do and gives me that extra edge which is crucial these days.” After Bewakoofiyaan, Ayushmaan is returning to unconventional roles with three period films.

“In 1911 I am playing a football player. It is a Shoojit Sircar film based on the rivalry between East Bengal and Mohan Bagan. Then there is Bambai Fairytale, a biopic on Shivkar Talpade, who constructed an unmanned airplane in 1895, before Wright brothers. We often say film industry only focuses on film stars and sportspersons. I hope the film will break that image. There is very little literature about Talpade and I am going with director Vibhu Puri’s vision. As we can’t recreate Bombay of late 19th Century in Mumbai, we have recreated in Pondicherry. I have also worked on the Marathi twang.” Ayushmann is also in news for Yash Raj’s Dum Laga Ke Haisha. “I am playing an illiterate guy who gets married to an educated but fat girl. She is madly in love with the boy but he doesn’t like to be seen with her. How he develops feelings for her forms a riveting story.” Just like his own story, one may add.

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