Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar
It would be wrong to call Ayushmann Khurrana just an actor, despite the fact that he’s pretty good at it. Let’s call him an artist. Well, because he writes, composes, and spends more time globe-trotting with his band ‘Ayushmann Bhava’ than being on a film set. He can talk about politics to poetry – which is why, a conversation with AK is never really boring! There’s always a lot to cover! Here, we chat about his latest single, the connect he has with the youth and more…
“The best part about being an artist is that you always feel like an 18-year old”
Your latest single ‘Ik Vaari’ is doing pretty well, how was it working on it?
It was fun working on the song, I think we tried something new this time around so it was fun. My singles are mostly off-centred. This is the most commercial single I’ve ever done. We’ve used a few lines from ‘Aashiqui’ that was Bhushan Kumar’s idea. I believe so far, this single has got the maximum number of views so I’m happy people are liking it.
Is it an effort to come up with something new with every song?
You need to do something different each time. My last single was ‘Yahin Hoon Main’ which was totally different. It was in Hindi. Before that, there was ‘Mitti Di Khushbu’, so this time I clubbed both. It starts as a Punjabi song but it comes as a surprise that the ‘Aashiqui’ song comes in between as the verse. In the past, I was never in the favour of rehashing an old song, but this time Bhushan Kumar really coaxed me into trying something different because nobody expected me to do something like that. But I’m glad it’s connecting with people.
You’ve always had that connect with the audience, especially the youth…
The youth is the opinion-leader of our country, whatever they decide is what the country follows. That’s what I believe in. When I joined a youth channel like MTV, we realised that the youth drives the country. India is a young country, the average age of the nation is 28 and they influence people. So, it’s a pre-requisite for every artist, for every person in the public eye to stay connected to the youth. They are blunt, they tell you what’s right or wrong. The social media is driven by the youth, and they give you a very honest feedback, I think they show you the mirror. These days people who are in the public eye do not live in a bubble, because you are there on social media, you’ll get to know where you’re going wrong or right. That connect with them is very important.
Do you think that has also started reflecting in our cinema with the so-called ‘new-age’ films coming up?
That definitely does reflect in our cinema. People have started respecting content. Earlier there was a wall between parallel cinema and commercial cinema but there’s nothing like that now. In today’s day and age, the so-called parallel cinema is doing well commercially. Both my films, ‘Vicky Donor’ and ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ wouldn’t have been successful films if they were made in the 80s. But I’m glad that the times are changing, the sensibilities have changed, that’s why these kind of films are doing well. This year films like ‘Pink’ did so well; even ‘Kapoor despite being the most real and subtle film coming out of Dharma Productions. Similarly, all the films which are big on content do really well, in multiplexes. Most importantly, they make profits which is great.
“The best thing about theatre actors is that they are very simple people. I started out as a theatre actor and I’ve not gotten rid of that simplicity”
You mentioned that ‘Vicky Donor’ and ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ have been pretty unconventional. So has been your career. Right from being a radio presenter to ‘Roadies’ to now, how has it been?
I think it’s brilliant. The best part about being an artist is that you always feel like an 18-year old. If you get rid of that child-like quality, you cease to be an artist. I think it’s quite surreal because I started as a theatre actor, then turned to radio, did television and then films and music. I’ve explored myself over the years and I’ll always keep doing that so I think it’s a beautiful journey that I’m having right now. As an actor, I’m glad that I saw success initially with ‘Vicky Donor’, then there was a dip in between, before ‘Dum Laga Ke’ happened. In the span of 4 years I’ve done two films which have won the national award. I’m really proud of it. Before that, there are films which didn’t do well, but I think this learning curve is amazing. Success is a very lousy teacher, but failure is your friend, philosopher and guide. I’ve seen both the sides. My last film did well, so I’m making my choices according to that now. But one should never stop learning and that’s what I’m doing right now.
There’s still that bit of simplicity though, which comes through your tweets. Has it been a conscious decision to showcase your real self across social media, and not just be an actor?
The best thing about theatre actors is that they are very simple people. I started out as a theatre actor and I’ve not gotten rid of that simplicity. So that is what reflects on social media. I was one of the earlier actors or people to join Twitter. I joined twitter as soon as it became popular in India. I was one of the earlier users of Twitter. We had gotten that basic nature of Twitter, that you need to show your personality on Twitter rather than using it selfishly to promote your stuff. If you use it to show your personality or your character, the followers do not feel cheated. They try to explore more than your work, more than your music. That’s what I do. I have my mood swings, I become philosophical most of the times, I have keen interest in politics, sometimes I’m funny or I just talk about poetry. I think it’s important to talk about stuff other than your core thing or rather than blindly promoting your film and music. That’s a connect that you want to have with your followers.
And how is it connecting with them live through your band?
Live connect is the best connect. Live shows give you those real butterflies before you go on stage. The best part is that you get instant gratification as far as the appreciation is concerned, be it as a singer or as an actor. It’s a crazy feeling. I am glad I can have concerts all across the globe with my band ‘Ayushmann Bhava.’ And it’s parallel work for me. I do one or two films a year, but throughout the year I’m mostly busy with events because I anchor, sing. I have a lot to do and I’m glad I have a lot to do because there’s no routine in my work profile. Provided as an actor it gives me a lot of space, your vocation is like your vacation. I never think that I’m working. I’m almost working everyday of the year and it’s really good fun.