A throwback to our show TapeCast Season 2 (by Grey Goose) where filmmaker Zoya Akhtar and actor Ayushmann Khurrana exchanged notes on film choices, scripts and roles for men. An edited excerpt of the conversation:
Host: You have been fearless in taking up varied projects like Badhaai Ho and Andhadhun and that defines your individuality in the industry. How have you reached this point of self-confidence and versatility?
Ayushmann Khurrana: It starts with your first film, it starts with treading a certain territory. With your first film you know that this is my path and in between you deviate or try to do something different. But you should be true to yourself to begin with. If you think that you will watch this film, then you’re being true to yourself. If you are thinking the audience will like it, but I may not like it, then you are not being true to yourself.
Zoya Akhtar: I meet so many actors and they all want to do that quintessential hero film. I don’t understand it. I am like why don’t you just act. Tell a story.
Ayushmann Khurrana: I am only attracted to good stories to begin with. I always keep the script above me, nothing is beyond. There has to be a certain novelty about it. There has to be no reference point of that script anywhere or in Indian cinema at least. It has to be basic. You should just relate to the script or else we actors are very self-obsessed.
Zoya Akhtar: No shit, Sherlock!
Ayushmann Khurrana: Yeah, like we should be different in every film, ‘ab main aise aaunga, yeh wala profile doonga’.
Zoya Akhtar: I find your body of work special. I know you’re saying that you look for unique things but that can also sometimes be gimmicky. How do you know the difference?
Ayushmann Khurrana: Most of the time it’s there on paper. If it’s not there, you have to trust the director. In Andhadhun, for example, it was not on paper. It was just in Sriram Raghavan’s head. Badhaai Ho was completely on paper. So you gather these experiences. There’s a certain leap of faith also that you take with every film.
Zoya Akhtar: But Badhaai Ho is also special because it’s literally like Gajraj (Rao) and Neena’s (Gupta) film. They are literally the leads. And you’re not even very nice in the first half of the film.
Ayushmann Khurrana: That happened with Dum Laga Ke Haisha also. I was despicable in the first half. Bhumi’s character slaps me and I slap her back. Before the interval people hated me!
Zoya Akhtar: I love that movie.
Ayushmann Khurrana: It’s my personal favourite. You have to be true to the character and keep on doing different things.