Ayushmann Khurrana, who made his film debut in 2012 with the romantic comedy "Vicky Donor," is now coming up with his first action film, "An Action Hero." Khurrana, who acted in the commercially and critically successful film Dum Laga Ke Haisha, went on to have a string of box-office successes, including the comedy-dramas Bareilly Ki Barfi, Badhaai Ho, Dream Girl, Bala, and many more. In a conversation with Yogesh Mishra, he spoke about his working experience with An Action Hero, how he looks back at his journey, a genre that he still wishes to work with, the changing tastes of the audience, and more...
What was your reaction when you were offered your first action movie?
It acts as an anti-casting agent. Because if you were performing a routine action in this film, it would have been boring. Since I am there in the film, I am such a different person. It just makes the project more exciting. And it's not just about changing myself as an actor or my image as an actor; it has to do with the subject matter and how different this action movie is from other action movies. It's not just action; it's a story. There's excitement, comedy, and humour. Everything is there. So, for me, I think it's just my film.
You are playing a different kind of role in "An Action Hero." What kind of preparation did you have to undertake?
This was probably the physically toughest part for me. I was trained for eight months in preparation. So, yeah, it's physically very tough for me. It's kind of my reinvention. And after ten years, I'm doing an action film.
Which was your last action film?
You can't call "Anek" an action film because it was a docudrama. Maybe it was more drama than action. Technically, this is (An Action Hero) my first action film. This is a mixed feeling of excitement and nervousness.
How much is the body double, and how much are you in your action scenes?
Every film contains the role of a body double in some capacity. It's difficult to just encapsulate everything on your own because they are professionals doing that. So there has to be like 10% usage, not more, because otherwise how will you do your wide shots?
But how risky is it for an actor to come up with two or three films that don't do well as opposed to many films that have done very well? Did it shake you up as an actor?
If I stop taking risks, I think I will be finished. I've always been unconventional, and I could make unconventional choices, and I'll make unconventional choices in the future as well. regardless of success or failure. I just keep going.
You are a star, and then you are playing the star in this movie. Was this also one of the reasons you said yes to this film, and have you ever used your personal experiences in this film?
I will not use any personal experience to begin with because Mana, the superstar, is very arrogant. He's flamboyant; he wears his stardom on his feet, and I'm completely screwed like that. So it's topical in a way because of the nature of media and how people react to it; there are a lot of trends going on in #BoycottBollywood and the nature of media. Bollywood and people put together-that's what the film is. It's a very modern concept that is both relatable and timely.
How do you look back at your journey?
The journey has been really fruitful because I started as a theatre actor, then a radio jockey, then a television host. And whatever the universe has given me is probably beyond my expectations. So there's always a feeling of gratitude as an actor, also because I think somehow I'm synonymous with a certain genre. So it's very flattering and overwhelming to know that. But at the same time, there has been a certain amount of learning, or I'm still evolving, especially in the past two years. I want to increase the popularity of my films and raise the entertainment quotient above and beyond the messaging. I probably have to give up on taboo subjects for a while, but I can't give up on vogue.
So it's like restricting a little bit?
Not really. This is a restriction because if I have to go for subjects that are slightly more niche, it has to be an OTT. It can't be a theatrical release because I think the intelligent, progressive audience has already shifted to OTT, and they really need to be excited enough to come out to theaters. If it has to be a mixed experience,
As you stated, you are attempting to break free from all of the taboos. So is it because you're missing the out-and-out commercial cinema you have been enjoying?
The kind of subject that requires community viewing for that has to be a wider film. Even the children are required to watch it. For example, my last three films, all LGBT films, historically haven't done well. Unfortunately, our country is homophobic. And then there was a piece of docudrama that was very niche in terms of the subject matter of the film. And "Doctor G" was an "A"-rated film. So I guess that's my personal learning from making the film.
Don’t you think, post-pandemic, audiences have become more choosy and selective about watching films?
The audience now has a wide variety to choose from. Everything is now on mobile.
Is there a specific genre you'd like to work in?
Horror comedy, I think. If it happens, there will be nothing like it. I would be delighted to work in that capacity.