Ayushmann Khurrana says he's not nervous about Bala: I know it'll be a sure-shot hit; it's the best script I've read
Ayushmann Khurrana says he was more nervous about past experimental films like Andhadhun, Article 15, and Dream Girl.
For Ayushmann Khurrana, who has so far explored many far-fetched characters — that of a sperm donor (Vicky Donor), a married man with an erectile dysfunction (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan), a blind pianist caught in a dark murder mystery (Andhadhun), a man embarrassed with parental pregnancy (Badhaai Ho), a small town boy with the unique talent of impersonating a woman’s voice (Dream Girl) — there is no stopping.
After winning us over with these blockbusters, Ayushmann is ready to keep the hits rolling. In his next, Bala (releases on 8 November), the actor takes on the role of a man dealing with baldness. “Bala tackles a very common subject that hasn’t been explored yet, and hence, it was very unique. Fifty percent of 30-plus males struggle with baldness. The problem is quite relatable, and therefore, I chose the subject,” says the actor, who is very positive about the success of the film at the box office.
“I was nervous about the fate of Article 15, Andhadhun, and Dream Girl. Article 15 was not a commercial film. It was a dark subject, and I wondered if it would make money. Andhadhun was completely experimental, and nobody knew what to expect from it while Dream Girl was complete opposite. These three films were nerve-racking for me. But for Bala, I am not nervous at all. I think it would be sure-shot hit. It is a very solid script, and again, middle-of-the-road cinema. Bala is not one of the best but it is the best script I have ever read, and it has got lot of heart and soul. For me, it is a very special film,” he says.
“But,” Ayushmann continues, “Bala was the toughest film of my life because shooting under the sun with three layers of prosthetic on your head was really difficult. I would take two-and-a-half hours for prosthetic and shoot under the heat of 45 degrees in Kanpur and Lucknow, whereas, Dream Girl was easy and fun. Dream Girl was my most commercial film (his highest grossing movie till date) as far as the tonality of the film is concerned. It was in your face, it was slapstick, it was for frontbenchers, and it ushered me into single screens. There were hardly three to four scenes where I had to dress up like a girl but otherwise, there was only voice modulation.”
What one wonders is does Ayushmann fear quirky subjects might get exhausted one day. Does he at times feel that he will not be able to find a unique subject to showcase his talent around? Well, the actor may not be worried about this but at the same time, he says would not like to pick up only unusual themes. “Our country is full of taboos. There won’t be any shortage. We are two different countries actually. Urban is different from rural. We are very progressive people sitting in a big city but 70 percent of the nation, which is a primary sector, are still very conservative, so we will never fall short of topics,” he reasons.
“I am doing these films by default but in the coming years, I may not do so many quirky films. You can do such films once in a while but not always. Article 15 wasn’t quirky, and nor was Andhadhun. These were different films. But yes, I will keep on looking for topics which are different, and also away from my zone."
“In fact, given a chance, I would love to do masala entertainers and action-oriented films. But it has to have some kind of uniqueness to it. It can’t be just generic,” he adds.
He continues, “Actually, it is a happy pressure. I am not feeling pressurised that I should do a particular kind of cinema and not venture out. All this is making me courageous and brave with my choices. Whatever I am doing is working till now, and hopefully, I can now afford to be more radical, in fact. It gives me that power to be more courageous.”
What motivates Ayushmann to take up quirky and off-beat topics is the challenge to make people receptive to all those things which were taboo, and not restricted to just drawing room discussions, through what he calls middle-of-the-road cinema. “If the films have done well, it means people are receptive about it. If they don’t want to see or talk about it then they won’t probably watch the film. It will definitely bring a change in the society. Sometimes, society takes something from cinema, and vice-versa. It is a give-and-take relationship that we have,” says the actor, who believes in the collaboration of both art and commerce. “We have to marry both, content and entertainment. It has to be a good mix of uniqueness and entertainment, and without the latter, nothing will survive. Actually, it boils down to entertainment more than anything else,” he says.
The National Award-winning actor, who went through a look transformation for Bala, says he looked just like his grandfather after the prosthetic makeup was done. Talking about how drastically different he looked after the makeup, Ayushmann says, “It was a different person altogether, and I did not recognise myself. I thought I looked like my grandfather because he had scanty hair. But I could relate with the reason why there is the complex (among people who are suffering premature balding). So I empathise with them.”
“I wanted to shave my head and go bald for the film but we could not do it since we were showing different stages of balding,” says the actor, who looks quite lean in the film. “I started losing weight for Dream Girl because I wasn’t looking great with my body then, and I had to wear lehenga and sari for the role. I had to continue looking lean in Bala because the journey is from 20 to 30 years of age. But when you have hair loss then you also look more mature. So, for a 20-year-old, I had to become lean furthermore,” says the actor, who took many references for Bala. “I have so many friends from school and college who faced hair fall, hair loss. There are both kinds of people, who are suffering from receding hairline, people who are confident and those under-confident. There are those who are very successful and women, too, find them hot, whereas, there are others who are completely complexed,” he adds.
Bala is Ayushmann’s third release this year and he already has two releases scheduled for next year – Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Gulabo Sitabo (with Amitabh Bachchan). Does he fear over exposure, and the actor says, “I have had one year where I didn’t have a single release, in 2016. I am getting tremendous scripts and there may be time when I won’t get good scripts so the idea is to grab these great scripts. Also, if you are getting it one after the other, and people are excited to see you then it is fine. Ideally, I would like to do two to three films a year. Now, after Bala, I will have a gap of four to five months for Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, which is incidental. Also, I have not had back-to-back releases this year, which happened last and last to last year with releases every two months,” he explains. “But I am a switch-on, switch-off actor and go from one character to another very easily. For example, I was shooting Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho simultaneously but they are two different characters altogether. I am okay with that because I don’t take the character back home. Once the camera is off, I am just myself,” he says.
Interestingly, Ayushmann does not watch too many films. Rather, he believes in taking inspiration from real-life situations. “I usually read books, listen to music. I give priority to my life over films because if you are just watching films, and acting is your profession then when are you living your life? I meet lot of people, take inspiration from their lives, and that will probably give you more ideas. Film is already made so what ideas would you take from them? The novelty comes from real-life situations,” he concludes.
All images from YouTube.
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