Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

Five back-to-back hits later, AyushmannKhuranna is back with yet another unique character.This time though, he even plays a girl – that’s quite evidently different now. Back-to-back shoots and releases have kept the actor busy, making him look leaner by the day. But, humble and flashing those dimples as always – AK gets chatting with us about his latest release amidst more. Excerpts:

Obviously, the title ‘Dream Girl’ reminds one of the legendary song, doesn’t it?

I think Laxmikant-Pyarelal were legends. They started very early, when they were in their teens of early 20s. The song ‘Dream Girl’ was ahead of its times – to have an English word in a Hindi song was rare in those times. People used to concentrate on Urdu at that point in time. I still feel, Hemaji is the perfect dream girl. Obviously, the song can’t be picturised on me (laughs).

How satisfying has the national award win been?

It’s a very happy pressure, and responsibility I have right now. The national award is a validation of the fact that my choices have been right. I don’t want to think of anything else or change my approach. I don’t want to get overwhelmed by the name of my director or co-actor or the paraphilia around it. I just want to go with the material and the script. I think, the new generation should spend at least 25 years in the film industry, give consistent hits, before one can think of himself as successful.

Do you find any change in people’s perception towards you?

I just want to try different films. I don’t want to think of accolades. For me, ‘Dream Girl’ is a very different film. Completely different from my filmography. It’s the most masala I’ve gone. Generally, I’ve played subtly in every film but in this one, I’ve gone all out. This is an actually an ode to the 90s kind of comedy. I’ve taken the Govinda out of me. So, it’s been a lot of fun.

Have any of your characters affected your personality off-screen?

I’ve never taken my characters back home. I can’t even watch my film more than once. I can shoot one film tomorrow and another film the very next day because I’m so detached from my characters.

How do you really go about your scripts because that’s what is being appreciated the most about you?

I just go by my gut, I don’t really go by anyone’s opinion. But yes, my wife reads my scripts, my manager Sunita reads my scripts. That’s about it. I just keep my basics right – I look for fresh concepts for Indian cinema and secondly, the content has to last for two hours. It should be able to hold the audience for two hours. Third thing which I look for is, there should be some value addition to the film.

“For me, conviction is all about how different you can be and make space for yourself”

What did you feel about being a girl in the film?

It was so diffcult being a girl, atleast the physicality. I used to shave in the morning and then two hours for hair extension and make-up. By evening my stubble used to come, so again shaving, hair, make-up. It’s tough being a girl like that. You have to feel like a girl from your body language that’s it.

While you say this is your most commercial film, it’s still so different despite for that zone. Many actors would’ve had apprehensions. So, how uninhibited did this film require you to be?

There were still some inspirations like, Govinda in ‘Aunty No.1’ or Kamal Haasan in ‘Chachi 420’. I think, Kamal sir was so legendary in that film. He was not playing a drag, he was playing a real woman. Two men were in love with her. So, I think, that’s the biggest inspiration.

Do you think this has also come to you at a right time, with the hits and variety you’ve had behind you?

With this film, I want to reach out to the masses. The tonality of the film is like that. It’s slightly illogical but humourous. It’s just a laugh out loud kind of a film. The songs are also very commercial, they are not off-centre. These kind of films will give more reach to films like ‘Article 15’. In fact, the idea of doing this film was to do something completely light which was out of my comfort zone. ‘Dream Girl’ is that kind of a film. I’ve grown up watching slapstick films.

Did you radio background help and did you kind of take any inspiration from that?

I think, it definitely helped looking back at that. We used to do a lot of prank calls to people and that experience actually helped because I dubbed my entire female voice.

Has there been a time when you kind of didn’t believe in the fact that you could make it?

I think, the only time I felt a little depressed was when ‘Hawaaizaada’ didn’t work and even at that point, I was just questioning my choices. It was a great learning curve for me. I think, if ‘Hawaaizaada’ didn’t happen, even this wouldn’t have happened. Thankfully, ‘Dum LagaaKe- Haisha’ happened in three weeks after ‘Hawaaizaada’. I remember, someone tweeted to me after ‘Dum LagaaKe..’ that you are a flop actor. I felt like responding and telling that person that it is a hit film. But I didn’t because what is the point of that? I just want to let the work do the talking. My only aspiration was to do successful films. For me, conviction is all about how different you can be and make space for yourself. You need to have a vision also for yourself apart from talent because everyone is talented. But you need to have a certain idea about where do you see yourself or how do you place yourself. That makes your journey more interesting.

Do you think ‘MeriPyaariBindu’ didn’t match expectations but it was a great film by itself?

I gave my heart and soul to that character, but I don’t know. I’ve also got mixed responses for it. Some people have loved it and some felt it was a bit stretched. So, I don’t know. I got a mixed response, even from my family but the character is very close to my heart – even the film.

Since you’re doing back-to-back films, has your writing and band taken a backseat? Also because that’s really therapeutic for you!

These days are the toughest right now, with all the travel, film promotions, back-to-back releases. I used to write a lot of poetries when I was shooting for ‘Meri- PyaariBindu’. The film was poetic and character was like that so it helped. But I’ll write again when I get time, do gigs and travel with my band also when I get time.

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