Ayushmann Khurrana is one actor who doesn't shy away from taking risks. From debuting in Bollywood with an unconventional film like 'Vicky Donor' to springing back into Bollywood marquee with his latest success 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', Ayushmann has experimented with everything. In an hour long chat, Khurrana talks about the success of 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', his desire to do 10 more movies with Yash Raj Films, his book 'Cracking the Code' co-authored with wife Tahira Kashyap and more.
How does it feel now that your film 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' has been successful?
It feels amazing. I am very overwhelmed with the response I have got for 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'. The audience reaction really matters a lot. This is a true example of positive word of mouth.
Were you upset that the risk you took with 'Hawaizaada' failed at box-office?
I am not scared of taking risks. I have been immune to success and failures. This is precisely because I am confident about the craft. When you are promoting the film, you have to be confident. And when I have signed a project I have to be committed to it. I own every film, whether successful or no. Success is a lousy teacher, failure teaches you a lot.
Since 'Hawaizaada' and 'Bewakoofiyaan' failed whereas 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' has been a hit, are you reassessing your work?
As of now my next film is with Shoojit Sircar. I am going with my gut feeling and I am not really reassessing my work.
How did you prepare for Prem's character in DLKH?
This was a more challenging role because the girl's character seemed author backed. In fact, her weight itself was a character. But I had lot of silent moments in the film and I am glad the challenge has paid off.
Describe your experience of working with Bhumi Pednekar?
Bhumi is a fantastic actor and she doesn't look like a first timer. She has been doing casting for past 6 years and hence she is a brilliant actor.
Was it difficult to shoot the climax scene of DLKH?
It was a tough thing to do. There was a difference of 20 kgs. I trained with my trainer Hitesh Shah. I had to be skinny but strong. Hitesh is also 85 kgs. So I used to pick him up and climb up the stairs. It was almost like a roadies task (laughs).
Your fans were disappointed as you didn't sing for 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'. Was it a conscious decision?
That was a deliberate decision because I am playing a Kumar Sanu fan. This character of Prem couldn't have sung. It would look unfair. Though Anu Malik insisted, but I was hesitant. I was a flawed character and hence it wouldn't make sense singing. Not many know that Anu Malik had rejected me on 'Indian Idol'. And now I am working with him. But I feel this is his best album.
Before 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' released, you were almost written off. Did that discourage you?
That is the nature of the industry. Every Friday the perspective changes. Same thing happened with Kangana Ranaut last year. Before 'Queen' she was completely written off and after Queen's release, she became the superstar! So every Friday, the perception changes.
'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' is being compared to 'Queen'. What do you have to say about this?
It feels good because 'Queen' was a successful film. I am glad about the comparison. It reinforces the belief in the content of the film. 'Queen' was at least promoted. Our film wasn't promoted at all.
In your case, unconventional films have worked and conventional ones have failed. So, will you be focusing more on unconventional films with strong scripts?
I think till the time you are not a superstar, your script should be a superstar. And 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' was one. I think it is only with the superstars that people go to watch them and not bother about the script.
Which will be your third film with Yash Raj Films?
Not just 3, but I would like to do 10 more films with YRF! I am reading lot of scripts and currently I have nothing in hand with them. I am glad they will be making this kind of cinema and I will be a part of it.
When do you begin shooting for 'Agra Ka Dabra'?
I don't know yet. We are still working on the script. And now that summers are setting in, Agra will be too hot to shoot so probably we may postpone the shooting schedule to winters. We currently need to work on the script. '1911' is also on the scripting stage.
Do you miss being with your wife and kids while shooting?
Of course yaar. Kids definitely because most of the time my wife travels with me. But fortunately my parents and in-laws have realized that we are young parents and hence we have to concentrate on our careers. That is part and parcel of life.
Your book 'Cracking the Code' has released. How much has been your contribution in it?
Tahira has done the main job. I used to talk, she used to write. I also gave my inputs. That book is quite interesting. I haven't spoken about it much because I was waiting for 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' to release. The main code is cracked now. More than the achievement, it is about the struggle. It talks about the changing scenario of the film industry. It is a quite interesting read.