There’s something about Ayushmann Khurrana. Something that has helped him swiftly jump up the ladder — something that makes him a sparkly human. And something that makes every character of his so relatable. He is understated — in many ways, an under dog. He was written off as a flop actor when his three releases — after the sleeper hit debut movie Vicky Donor — flopped. But then came Dum Laga Ke Haisha and there was no looking back for him.
Ayushmann went on to do become the go-to person for every tabboo subject in the country — a self-professed Mahinder Vatsa. Be it erectile dysfunction or middle-aged pregnancy, Ayushmann became the face of change — a change where the script was supreme. And nothing else mattered.
In Andhadhun, where he was beaten black and blue several times, you don’t feel pity; you feel disgust at the man who drove himself to the pit of destruction. The beauty of his acting was such that people hated and loved his character in equal measures. And it earned him a National Award for Best Actor too.
But despite this — despite the National Award in his kitty — would one find him in their list of high-rated stars? Stars, not actors. You have the Khans, the Kapoors, the Dhawans, the Kumars and the Singhs. But the Khurranas are just too low-key. But maybe that’s how Ayushmann likes it. He is not a regular feature at big bashes, or award nights. But on the list of directors, the man of the hour has moved up aeons. One can find debutante directors trusting him with all their money and talent — Amit Sharma directed him in Badhaai Ho, Raj Shaandilya in Dream Girl (that released only yesterday) and Sharat Katariya in Dum Laga Ke Haisha.
What makes Ayushmann so different from all his peers is his appetite for adventure and risks. Nobody in the top line of A-listers would have taken a risk with a subject like erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Savdhaan — that’s every bit contrary to what ‘hero’-ism in the Hindi film industry stands for. Or soon-to-be-released Bala — where the hero is a balding, brooding man. Or the under-production Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhaan — where the hero is touted to be gay. But Ayushmann is a risk-taker, and much more than that, an intelligent actor who catches the nerve of the audience, who knows the ‘hero’ is a passe and that they have moved on to more real version of their blue-eyed boys.
“I remember immediately after Dum Laga Ke Haisha somebody tweeted that you are a flop actor. I was about to tweet back to that person saying that the movie was a legit hit. But then I realised what’s the point of doing it. If I become a hit actor nobody will tweet that so then I made sure that all my films are successful. So I always used to put the script ahead of my character and that was my only aspiration to give successful films,” Ayushmann once said, in an interview.
If there were a template to translate words into action and actualise creative aspirations into cinematic brilliance, Khurrana has hacked it and how. He indulges in Hindi poetry — he posted a poem of his on his Instagram when he won the National Award, he writes and co-composes songs, and sings them. And he acts. Ayushmann has achieved it all — and without much ado or show off.