'I don't want to over-feed people with lots of my songs'
Ayushmann Khurrana is one busy man.
He is acting in Yash Raj’s untitled film with Sonam Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor, Shoojit Sircar’s tentatively title Hamara Bajaj and a biopic on Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, who constructed and flew India's first unmanned airplane in the year 1895.
Apart from movies, he recently assisted director Shoojit Sircar on Madras Café for 10 days.
He is also a talented singer and composer. He sang Paani Da in the film Vicky Donor and Saddi Gali and Tu Hi Tu in Nautanki Saala. The actor just released his first single O Heeriye with the help of Yash Raj Productions.
With so many things in hand, Ayushmann hardly gets any time for his family. But as he tells Patcy N, “in this phase of my life, I can’t be complacent.”
Read on to know more.
With your acting, singing and also assisting as director how much time do you have for your family?
It is quite crazy. I hardly get any time. As it is, I stay in Mumbai and my wife stays in Chandigarh, as she is doing her Ph.D. Though I visit Chandigarh every month for four-five days and she comes here and we travel together for awards functions, we get little time together.
But this is the time we have to work hard. We are both young and we have to make our careers.
Image: Ayushmann Khurrana
Video: Abhijit Mhamunkar
'I am still getting used to believing I am a father'
You have a young son as well. You must be spending very little time with him?
It is difficult. Thankfully my parents and my in-laws are quite supportive. It’s a good time for them as they are enjoying his presence in the house.
But what sort of role do you play as a father?
I don’t know. I am still getting used to believing I am a father.
My wife understands that I can’t be around all the time. As they say, like the second half of the film should be more interesting, likewise the second half of your life should be more interesting. So I am working for the second half of my life.
Are you going to do something else later in life?
There is no plan as such but I know that in this phase of my life I can’t be complacent.
Image: Ayushmann Khurrana along with wife Tahira Kashyap
Video: Abhijit Mhamunkar
'Hindi songs have been explored a lot'
Why did you release the single O Heeriye?
O Hiryee is my brand new single that Yash Raj Films has produced as I am managed by them.
I have made this song with Rochak Kohli, my childhood buddy. We had collaborated earlier on Paani Da (from Vicky Donor) and Saadi Gali (Nautanki Saala).
Many people asked me what after Saadi Gali. I kept saying my film will release next year but they wanted a new song soon, so I thought of releasing a song without releasing a film as well.
A lot of people told me singles don’t work. Not even albums work-- they don’t get support from music channels and radio stations. Individual music only works on digital medium.
I did this song for the love of music and people who love my kind of music. The video is also made by Yash Raj. It has a very urban rom-com feel to it.
The sound of O Hiryee is our patent Punjabi soft rock. A lot of Punjabi songs up the tempo and have a lot of bhangra flavour. We have added a unique soft touch, something very different and contemporary.
Why did you make a Punjabi song instead of a Hindi song which would have mass appeal?
I think Hindi songs have been explored a lot; Punjabi music has not gone through this phase.
Plus I think it is part of my identity being a Punjabi from Chandigarh. Punjabi also gives earthiness to the song. We have also used lots of European drum beats that gives it a cool feel.
Image: Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam in Vicky Donor
'I always wanted to be a singer'
How did singing happen?
I always wanted to be a singer. As a kid I used to sing a lot. I took classical training too, but didn’t take it very seriously. As a kid it is tough to sit through sessions of classical training. I regret that now because formal training is very important, be it instrument or vocals.
Having said that, I made a choice between music and theatre, and I chose theatre over music. I did a musical play called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I sang live Benjamin Calypso.
I performed in lots of street plays and stage plays. I formed two theatre groups with Rochak, my childhood buddy. We composed and sang songs for our theatre productions.
We were doing music along with theatre. So music was always there.
Without formal training is it easy to compose songs?
More than singing it is the instruments that help you in composing. You have to know one instrument very well. Both Rochak and I play guitar very well. So we compose our songs on the guitar.
As far as vocals are concerned, it depends. Sometimes you are gifted with a really strong voice and proper sur. You cannot really learn sur, you can only nourish your sur, you can nourish your tonal quality. You either have the talent for music or you don’t.
Composing is a different craft altogether and I feel I am a better composer than a singer.
Are you going to cut a proper album?
Not really. There is no agenda to cut a proper album. In fact, O Heeriye happened because my film is releasing next year.
Next year I have three films releasing. I sing in every film. I don’t want to over-feed people with lots of songs.
Image: Ayushmann Khurrana in Nautanki Saala
'It is difficult to focus on music because of my acting commitments'
Do you want to be a composer in future?
I am working on composing music of others as well. I don’t want to take a break from my acting.
I am an actor first. The rest is just happening because of my passion.
Are you asked to compose songs?
Yes, lots of people have approached me to compose at least one song for a film, but I don’t have the time.
I think Rochak will be composing a lot on his own. For me, it is difficult. I am starting my next film very soon. I will be shooting every month and every day. It is difficult to focus on music.
I have sung for the Yash Raj project with Sonam Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor and it is a Hindi song not a Punjabi one.
I may sing for other films I sign though there is no clause in the contract that I have to sing. It depends on the director and the kind of song because I have a textured voice and the song should suit my voice.
What is the Yash Raj movie Bewakoofian about?
That’s not the title. It’s a love story in the time of recession. It’s a slice of life written by Habib Faisal and directed by Nupur Asthana.
Image: Ayushmann Khurrana along with Shoojit Sircar and John Abraham on the sets of Madras Cafe
'I have to become a better actor and singer before becoming a director'
What is the progress on Hamara Bajaj?
Hamara Bajaj will happen next year. Shoojit Sircar was very busy with Madras Café.
First I will complete a biopic in which I play a Maharashtrian scientist, Shivkar Talpade. Being a Punjabi it is quite a challenge to play a Maharashtrian character.
You assisted Shoojit Sircar on Madras Café for ten days; do you want to get into direction?
No, I just wanted to be part of filmmaking. It is very important to understand filmmaking, to be part of every aspect of filmmaking from music, to acting, to direction.
I have to become a better actor and singer before becoming a director.
You have a three-film contract with John Abraham and Shoojit Sircar. How do you relate to them?
My equation with both of them is very good. John is like an elder brother to me and Shoojit Sircar is like my godfather who gave me my first break. He directed me absolutely right in the first film.
They are like my family. It is a great atmosphere when we work together. John is not like a producer, he is like a buddy.
What is Hamara Bajaj about?
It is a tentative title. It’s about a tourist guide in the Taj Mahal in Agra who wants to be an actor.
How are you preparing to play a Maharashtrian character?
Since it is a Hindi film, the dialogues are in Hindi but I have a lot of quirks of a Maharastrian. The writer of the film is a Maharashtrian and he will be on the sets all the time.
I haven’t taken a lot of workshops, but I can understand Marathi. I have spent just five years in Mumbai but my staff is Maharashtrian. My costumes and my body language will also do the needful.
Image: Ayushmann Khurrana sings for rediff.com