Ayushmann Khurrana talks Meri Pyaari Bindu, following in Amol Palekar, Farooq Sheikh's steps
It’s sheer coincidence that Ayushmann Khurrana and Aamir Khan are on the same studio floor at Yash Raj Films. While a policeman and Aamir’s entourage keep a strict vigil outside room number 104 at the studio’s hallowed first floor, Ayushmann’s room is far more accessible. It’s crowded, thanks to the press that's gathered here for bytes from Ayushmann, regarding his upcoming film Meri Pyaari Bindu. Ayushmann’s previous release was the much loved Dum Laga Ke Haisha. The actor-singer seems to be on the cusp of a big upward move: he’s got three script-oriented films lined up for release (Meri Pyaari Bindu, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Savdhan) and has also signed up with Sriram Raghavan for a thriller.
Thankfully, the heat outside does not play spoilsport as a somewhat tired Ayushmann is well ensconced in his air-conditioned room. With Meri Pyaari Bindu's release nearly here, the actor — who became an instant sensation after his first release Vicky Donor — seems excited. He also knows, however, that Bollywood can be brutal and unforgiving, with fortunes altering every Friday — a side he saw after three of his releases after Vicky Donor were duds.
It's interesting to note here that Ayushmann’s dad is a renowned astrologer with a weekly column in a national newspaper.
So has he predicted the fate of Meri Pyaari Bindu? Ayushmann’s reply to this is a big guffaw, and then he eventually answers: “I never ask him about this. In fact, he has never predicted anything about his own family members. He only gives us the right timing. We share a rapport that could be compared to Krishna and Arjun's. After I finished my postgraduate exams and was waiting for the result, I was all set to take a sabbatical. The fact being ‘mujhe ghar se bhagaya gaya tha’ as my father sensed something in me. My father forced me to move out of Chandigarh. I was in Delhi for a few years, became an RJ at a radio station and was doing well for myself. And again while in Delhi, I was warned by my father to pack my bags and leave for Mumbai. He only tells me the right thing at the right time, otherwise its pretty difficult to predict the fate of a film,” explains Ayushmann. Incidentally, the only two films that Ayushmann showed his father much before their actual theatrical release were Vicky Donor and Dum Laga Ke Haisha.
Ayushmann’s acting repertoire of seven films is peppered with unconventional characters. Right from a sperm donor, to a theatre actor to an aviator in pre-Independence India, to the owner of a dwindling audio cassette shop — these are unusual roles for actors from the commercial mainstream. Meri Pyaari Bindu is no exception and this time he enacts a writer. “I could relate to my character of Abhimanyu Roy as I also write a column these days. I have penned stories and written skits during my theatre days so there is a writer in me. My wife Tahira too is a writer and that also helped,” says Ayushmann.
Ayushmann had no difficulty in picking up the nuances of his character as he had a role model, right on the sets: director Akshay Roy. “He (Akshay) is a Delhi boy, very intelligent and very humble. He already has a National Award in his kitty for the short film he had made. I have just copied and emulated him. The protagonist of the film — Abhimanyu Roy — is just like Akshay Roy. I used to look at him, study his body language and emulate him,” reveals the actor.
Bollywood’s fascination with cops, robbers, mafia and politicians and its cold shouldering of 'real professions' peeves Ayushmann. He recalls how his second film (Nautanki Saala) was ignored when it released. “Nautanki Saala lagged behind because the masses could not comprehend theatre. I loved Tamasha and that again was incomprehensible to the audience. I think it’s the purity of art that they fail to understand.” But the actor is convinced that it’s just a matter of time when viewing habits will evolve and he rattles off names that will support his point: Kahaani, Paan Singh Tomar, Dum Laga Ke Haisha among others.
Despite being a singer, how come Ayushmann hasn't sung in Meri Pyaari Bindu even though co-star Parineeti Chopra has? “Since Parineeti is playing a singer in the film, the message would have got diluted. Just imagine, agar galti se mera gaana jyada chal jaata toh! The entire hook of the film would have gotten diluted.”
Ayushmann should also be thankful to producer Maneesh Sharma, who sort of resurrected his career when he had just delivered his third flop in a row. “Maneesh is a great mind and has seen cinema quite closely. Adi Chopra really believes in him. A film like Dum Laga Ke Haisha (that was produced by Maneesh) is such an unlikely Yash Raj film. I guess he is creating a certain kind of cinema which will always get credibility from YRF,” says Ayushmann. The decision to release Dum Laga Ke Haisha two weeks after the debacle of Hawaizaada was jointly taken by Aditya Chopra and Maneesh Sharma.
In a career spanning five years that began with Vicky Donor, Ayushmann is yet to be bracketed. The boy-next-door image does not allow him to indulge in fisticuffs with goons nor does it permits him to go all out in matters of the heart. So where does Ayushman stand?
Ayushmann found his answer after the success of Dum Laga Ke Haisha in a casual conversation with his mentor Aditya Chopra. “After Adi saw Meri Pyaari Bindu, we had a conversation and he told me that my real persona reflects on screen and I come across as natural. Adi also said that its good to own this zone of unconventional cinema because most are moving towards the commercial zone, so who will be the Amol Palekars and Farooq Shaikhs of this generation?”
So is Ayushmann paying heed to his mentor’s advice of occupying the slot vacated by Amol Palekar and Farooq Sheikh? “Yes, I am thinking (about this) in a very serious manner and I want to own this space. My next film would be Bareilly Ki Barfi, which has the combination of Nitesh Tiwari and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, and then there is Shubh Mangal Savdhan, which is the anti-thesis of Vicky Donor as it talks about erectile dysfunction! And my film with Sriram Raghavan goes on the floors in June, which is a thriller,” elaborates Ayushmann.
With Meri Pyaari Bindu, a lot is stake for Ayushmann as the pressure to continue from where he had left in Dum Laga Ke Haisha has built up. So far, the film’s chapters promise a charming, contemplative performance from the actor. With a line up of films that present him as different characters from different parts of India, finally, we might have a star who can adapt to the common man with ease.
Updated Date: May 09, 2017 14:21 PM