Unconventional comes easy to actor-singer-composer Ayushmann Khurrana, who plays Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, an Indian scholar who is supposed to have constructed and flown India's first unmanned flight, in the upcoming Hawaizaada, which co-stars Pallavi Sharda and Mithun Chakraborty. In a candid moment, he shares his thoughts about his character, his own dealings with failure and how he's content with his own "mild success".
Hawaizaada comes quite a while after your last film, Bewakoofiyaan (March 2014). Why the long gap ?
Because it is the sort of film that needed this kind of a gap. It needed this sort of a distraction from other regular films to be able to work on such kind of a movie. This is the first time that I am not playing a quintessential urban north Indian Punjabi guy. I have moved out of my comfort zone and am playing a Marathi-speaking guy. I had to learn the language properly. Everything had to be perfect from the costumes to the set design to the music to everything. And this gap was created not just because of Hawaizaada but also because of my other film Dum Laga Ke Haisha. Now both the films are ready at the same time and you will get to see them back-to-back this year.
Why the production delay with Hawaizaada?
We shot extensively for 90 days. But we couldn't shoot in the summers. The film's backdrop required us to shoot in cool weather. Thus we had to wait for that a bit and then shoot.
After catching the trailer, many Maharashtrian viewers feel you haven't been able to mouth the Marathi lines correctly...
This can't be true. The films co-writer Saurabh Bhave, who has written a lot of Maharashtrian films before, was there throughout. I did workshops to get the accent and the dialect perfect. I gave multiple takes and reshots to make sure the dialogue delivery was perfect. Unless Saurabh okayed the word, I used to keep giving takes again and again.
With biopics being all the rage, was it a conscious decision to do one on Talpade's life?
See, you can't call this a biopic. The person is very real and he did make the first flight by a man, but as India was just a British colony that time, there is no record of the same. Thus, everything that we know about him is just hearsay. What director Vibhu Puri has done, is develop Shivkar Talpade's character according to his own imagination. Not much is known about the real-life person and therefore, Vibhu had to develop a full story around this one character. All of it came from Vibhu's imagination and therefore, you can't call it a biopic in the proper sense of the word.
When your films don't work, do you feel you've failed as an actor?
Any movie is a team effort. You can't blame the actor if the film didn't work and neither can I blame the filmmakers saying that their script was faulty. Its a collective affair and all the factors have to work equally well to make a successful film. And you can never predict what audiences would like and won't like. You can have the best of everything in a film and still end up being a dud. And you may have everything unconventional where the movie might do wonders at the ticket windows.
You started out the same time as Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and others. In terms of films and popularity and success thereof, they've left you far behind. Where do you think you failed?
I guess we all debuted the same year, but I got the most Best Newcomer (Male) awards that year. Also, I guess none of them have got an award for singing. I have. That's where I stand apart from them. Also, I don't crave much, am laid back and am content with what I get. That's not to say that I'm not hungry for popularity.By now, I've seen so many rejections in life that I'm just happy being able to act and sing. I'm happy with my mild success. I'm okay with mild love. I just want to live a normal life with the people I love.
You've gone solo with this film's music composition. All well between you and Rochak Kohli.
Yeah, yeah... all's well between us. This time, I decided to try out something, solo. So did he. It was new experiment for both of us and we hope it works with the audiences. We will definitely be working together in coming months again.
You began the actor-singer trend with Paani Da. Now, every other actor is singing in films. How do you differentiate yourself now?
With no offence to anyone, I sing professionally and it's not just a hobby for me. I have won awards for singing. I have written songs. I have composed songs. Also as far as actor-singers go, there's barely a crowd. Plus, all my songs have been very popular with the masses. All these things differentiate me from the others.
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