We cornered the Bewakoofiyaan actor in the corridors of Yash Raj Studios to know what his latest offering, co-starring Sonam Kapoor, is all about. In a candid chat the MTV VJ-turned-singer-turned-actor spoke about his equation with fashonista Sonam, how Rishi Kapoor helped him learn the craft of acting and why he knows, for sure, that he will never be jobless!
When he doesn’t charm you with his wit, Ayushmann Khurrana simply eases you up with his warm personality and relaxed attitude. And then he grows on you, slowly and surely, with his Zen like demeanour.
There’s no doubt in our collective heads that the Vicky Donor dude is a bundle of tremendous energy and pure spontaneity. But there’s a staggering degree of calmness he has about himself, the tranquility with which he handles stardom. And that quality strikes you about this fun-loving chap instantly. Is it the effect of The Geeta that Ayushmann has started reading with a new-found zest or is it the relentlessly exhausting promotional spree the 29-year-old has been on to endorse his forthcoming release, we wondered! “I read the Geeta a lot. I am not a religious person, but it helps put things into perspective. At any point in time, I am never too happy or too sad. I have seen both success and failure so that has given me this approach with which I live my life,” stated the charmer when we sat with him at Mumbai’s YRF studios recently.
To our utter surprise we discovered that Ayushmann was not his usual self we see on the big or small screen. Not that he didn’t joke around with us. In fact, he made us burst into laughter with his hilarious responses, but what was highly unmistakable was that the dude never lost his composure throughout the interview. Neither did he move away, even by a micro-inch, from his warm, friendly and fun persona. Here are the excerpts from the free-wheeling chat…
Here you are playing an urban, the boy-next-door character once again. What makes you different in Bewakoofiyaan?
It’s a slice-of-life kind of film. It was a part of my bucket list to do a romcom. You can say the films I have done before this one are unconventional films. But this one is a full-fledged commercial movie. It has an earthy feel to it and it is very realistic.
And you are working with Sonam Kapoor who looks so impressive both with her style and her performance…
Well, sometimes we forget that in the garb of being a fashionista, Sonam Kapoor is also an actor. Her fashion sensibilities overshadow her acting capabilities. When I got to know for the first time that I will be working opposite Sonam, in this movie, I was slightly skeptical about our onscreen chemistry. I was questioning myself with kind of chemistry we would offer. After all, she is a style icon and I have a boy next door persona. But when we met for narrations for Bewakoofiyaan, I realised that she is a very simple and sweet girl. She is very real. It was lovely working with her.
Which zone does Ayushmann find himself in? Are you still working to establish your credentials as an actor or you are consciously choosing movies of your choice?
Yes it’s a conscious choice. There’s no dearth of good script writers these days. This is the right time to be in the film industry if you are a good writer, actor or director. If we talk about Bewakoofiyaan, it is written by Habib Faisal. It’s a Yash Raj movie and it has all the factors going for it. It is very topical, relate-able and based in the times of recession. My character works in an airline company and gets paid handsomely, but suddenly I lose my high-paying job. That’s when this romantic comedy takes a sudden twist.
Have you ever faced a similar situation in real life when you were struggling to become an actor?
Yes, in fact I blew all my money on my wedding and on the honeymoon with just Rs 10,000 left in my bank account. But honestly, that phase did not last long for the very next month my salary was credited and I was happy again.
In Bewakoofiyaan you are dealing with a khadoos father-in-law played by Rishi Kapoor. Any parallels to draw from real life on that front?
No way (giggles!). My father-in-law is very sweet. He loves me a lot. We both love music and it binds us.
Your debut movie was a hit. How do you think success has helped you pick your choices of movies thereafter-for if a film is a flop one works hard to prove oneself and when a film is a success then that drives one even harder to maintain the success …
I think I am growing with every film I do as an actor. I don’t know what commercial success is because I was bad at mathematics. I flunked in my pre-boards mathematics exams! But I know I grew as an actor in Nautanki Saala and I grew better as a singer in that movie as well. Honestly, I am more ambitious when it comes to my craft than the commercial success or the materialistic aspirations I have.
There is a bunch of actors these days, the current crop has emerged big time and most of them are doing fabulous work. What makes you stand out in the herd?
I am the only one who sings! (laughs) I have my own space in the industry and I have no competition.
Clearly you are banking upon your singing talent, aren’t you?
I think I enjoy doing concerts. It’s a huge stress buster for me. You feel like a rockstar when 10,000 people are cheering for you. There’s no high like that.
In that case you don’t have to worry much for even if acting doesn’t work in the long run( god forbids that doesn’t happen) your rockstar like status will eventually help you fetch more movies..
I don’t know yaar (laughs). I have chosen so many professions. I am a theatre actor, then I did television, radio and ventured into films. So I don’t know what can work for me in the future. I am enjoying this phase of life-be it acting or singing. I am sure I will always get work, I will never be jobless.
What do you enjoy more between the two-singing or acting? What the artist in you is more passionate about?
See singing gives you an instant gratification, especially if you are doing live performances because you get instant feedback there, as opposed to doing movies where appreciation comes only after your film is released.
In one of the promos of Bewakoofiayaan we discovered you can’t swim. Sonam revealed that secret about you. Have you discovered any secret about her that we don’t know as yet?
She can’t sing! (laughs hysterically) I am slightly hydrophobic. I had got drowned as a kid. I can stay afloat and probably save myself, but I don’t enjoy swimming.
Does Sonam being a fashionista puts more pressure on you, especially when the two of you are on promotional sprees?
Oh yes. When I was playing a character opposite her there was no pressure. But when we go out together as an onscreen pair to promote the film, I have to ask Sonam if she thinks that I am okay style-wise.
How often does Sonam dismiss your fashion sense?
Oh so many times yaar. At the pooja we attended for Bewakoofiyaan I wore maroon kurta that I liked a lot but Sonam hated it. So what I do is I send the pictures of my clothes to Sonam so she can help me be fashion sensible and well coordinated. I do take tips from her and I think I have evolved as far as my style is concerned, all thanks to Sonam
Tell us what Bewakoofiyaans the two of you have indulged in off camera while shooting for the film?
In the movie my character gets his first car and he shows it to his girlfriend (Sonam). For that scene we were driving on the highway in Delhi and Sonam is iffy with the gears. She is used to driving only automatic cars. So she would zoom past all the drivers on the road with crazy speed. Many even turned back to see who the driver was, only to discover that Sonam Kapoor was on the wheels. I was petrified when I had to sit right next to while she was driving. I was like ab toh gayein, yeh meri aakhri film hain bhai.
Working with Rishi Kapoor must have been a great experience. What lessons did you take away after working with the veteran?
The experience was amazing yaar. He’s a veteran, he comes with a lot of experience but he can’t tolerate incompetence. He is perfect. He gives only one take. One perfect take, that’s it. I remember first day with him was very difficult, but then I had to reassure that I am doubly prepared if I am sharing a frame with him. Normally, I would just read my lines and go with the flow in front of the camera, but with him (RK) being around I would read and rehearse my lines twice over. I think because of Rishi Kapoor I have become a one take artist.
From being an MTV roadie to a budding star, does Ayushmann have a roadmap ready as he has set out on this promising journey?
Nope. I don’t have any roadmap and I never had one at any point in my life.
But hasn’t success change things now for you? Don’t you think a concrete plan might help?
No. I have become more detached now in fact. I have seen both success and failure so that has given me this approach with which I live my life. I am not chasing stardom. All I can do is to work on my craft and do good movies.