Ahead of the release of Meri Pyaari Bindu, Ayushmann Khurrana opens up on the ongoing actors vs singers debate, Bieber concert, Baahubali and a lot more…

Tell us about your character

Abhimanyu Roy is a frivolous writer but he is not frivolous in real. He is an urban guy, not a jholewala. He is a selfless guy, who is going all out to support his love for her singing aspirations. He is a writer who is in love with this girl since childhood. The film is not a love story, it’s a relationship story. It’s a life story of these two characters from 5 years to 35 years.

Tell us a little more about Meri Pyaari Bindu

It is based on nostalgia, landlines, trunk calls, prank calls and cheating in exams and Kolkata of the 90s. I think everybody will relate to this film because we love living in the past.

What attracted you to this character?

I think love for music and writing. More than the character it’s the script which I loved.

How much do you relate to the character Abhi?

In my teens and early 20s, I was like Abhi. Probably I have become more practical in life because I have seen life now. Apart from that, love for music, especially retro music is something which I share with him.

What about childhood love?

Yes, childhood love also because I have been in a relationship for the past 15 years now. I was 17 when we started dating. (smiles)

How was the experience of shooting in Kolkata?

Kolkata is actually a great balance of old world charm and an urban city. North Kolkata looks quite untouched. It still has British-era buildings. Most of the Bengalis are laid back. They enjoy food, music, art and culture, especially Rabindrasangeet. The young crowd of South Kolkata party on Saturday nights. South Kolkata has a vibrant night life. The two cities run parallely at the same time. Also, loved lemon tea in Kolkata which you don’t get here.

Has singing taken a backseat?

In this particular film yes because I play a non singer in the film. Pari is playing a singer. If I had sung in the film, communication would have got diluted. I am playing a writer. In the past I used to write for theatre groups, so there is a writer in me. Hence I can relate to the character. I didn’t sing in Dum Laga Ke Haisha also because I could never imagine Prem Prakash Tiwari singing a song.

How did you prepare for the character?

Apart from writing, Bengali milieu is a big part because that’s the backdrop of the film. I had two teachers who taught me Bengali, Professor Mitra, a Bengali theatre actor from Delhi and Shagoon Ahmed, an actor based in Mumbai who as acted in a lot of Bengali films and serials.

Are you happy with your career, with the performance of your films?

I feel if you have talent then you’ll definitely get more opportunities as an actor. I am glad that in a span of two years I have given two national award winning films, Vicky Donor and Dum Laga Ke Haisha. I am fortunate that I am getting quality roles in Meri Pyaari Bindu, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan which is an antithesis of Vicky Donor. Sriram Raghavan’s thriller is also a different genre for me. So success and failure will come and go. I still feel success is a lousy teacher, failure teaches you more.

What have you learnt from your failures?

Sometimes we get really myopic and think that our character is of utmost importance. What I have learnt is that the film is of utmost importance. If the film works, then everybody right from the protagonist to character artistes, is benefitted. So you should look into the totality instead of prioritizing your role.

Was it a conscious decision to do content-driven films?

I started doing unconventional films because I believe I am an unconventional actor. I also feel that if every actor does commercial films, then where is the space for the Amol Palekars and Farooq Sheikhs of today’s world! So i think I am happy being in that space and I want to own that space. I want to do different and unconventional films.

Do you think you will miss out on playing larger than life characters or an action role perhaps?

I think it really doesn’t matter. A month back, Aditya Chopra told me that your real life persona reflects on screen, which is great. I think we change everyday. Every 5 years there is a metamorphosis and we evolve. Till the time I don’t feel I can be an action hero, I can’t be an action hero on screen.

Ayushmann Khurrana: Success is a lousy teacher, failure teaches you more
Ayushmann Khurrana: Success is a lousy teacher, failure teaches you more

Do you want to do action films?

I want to do everything. I will start shooting in June for a thriller with Sriram Raghavan, which is also out of my zone.

Would you like putting on weight for a role?

If the character demands then why not? I think Bhumi (Pednekar) was the first female actor to do that. But it’s not easy. It takes a toll on your health also. I am naturally a thin guy and my metabolism is very high. I am glad I don’t get those kind of roles where I need to bulk up or lose drastically. If the script is good then I’ll definitely do it.

Would you like to do something on TV?

Web excites me more than TV. Now web comes up with more edgy content. Television is slightly more regressive while web is progressive.

Parineeti marks her singing debut with this film. When actresses sing, they face a lot of flak on social media whereas actors are encouraged. What do you feel about this?

Really? I’ve noticed that actresses sing more than actors. Actors who sing in live concerts can actually sing. Probably if someone is not doing live shows, they will face flak. Talking about Parineeti, I think she is the best singer actor. She has been doing live shows since the age of 5 and also has a B Hons in music. She is a classically trained singer. Also it’s a very Indian tradition of lip syncing songs. In the west you generally sing your own songs. So I don’t know what is the hoopla about. Talking about the Bieber concert, it is just a commercial aspect. We Indians are obsessed with cricket and cinema. So cricketers and actors are given the spotlight. People believe that Shah Rukh Khan has sung Gerua because he owns that song. We consume music visually which is ironic. We often see the visuals, watch the video and then like the song. For the visual and commercial aspect, an actor will always be more sellable than a singer.

Why do you think Baahubali did so well?

Baahubali is a great franchise. Everybody relates to it because it is too Indian. It’s mythology, historical yet fiction but it’s too Indian. I think that’s why it is working. We just realized the potential of the true Indian story through Baahubali. It is like a case study.

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