'...That you don’t have to introduce yourself. You don’t have to carry a visiting card,' Ayushmann Khurrana tells Patcy N/ Rediff.com.
We still know him as the Vicky Donor actor.
But there's much more to Ayushmann Khurrana.
The actor will be seen next in Hawaizaada, co-starring Mithun Chakraborty, releasing January 30.
Ayushmann talks to Patcy N/ Rediff.com about his movies, his long-distance marriage and the biggest worry in his life.
Hawaizaada is a period movie, directed by a first-timer. Were you apprehensive about taking up the film?
It was important to accept the challenge because I have been playing a north Indian guy in my last three films and I wanted to do something different.
Besides, anybody would jump to do the film. Nobody knows about the guy who made the world’s first aircraft, Shivkar Talpade. It’s an untold story of an unsung hero.
There’s no proof Shivkar Talpade actually did it.
Of course there is no proof because it was not patented. India was under British Raj at that time.
There are articles online that say this guy made the world’s first aircraft. It was flown first at Chowpatty (in south Mumbai) for 18 minutes in front of (freedom fighter) Bal Gangadhar Tilak and some 500 odd people.
His aircraft was based on some Vimaan shashtra. They call it a conspiracy theory. But even if it is a conspiracy theory related to an Indian, who made world’s first aircraft, it's enough to make a film on it. It is a mix of myth and realism.
Vibhu Puri is a first-time director…
His student film Chabiwali Pocket Watch (2006) was nominated for the Student Oscars. He has co-written films for Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He’s a brilliant writer and director.
I think he could be one of the best directors in the country in time to come.
He is a very good story teller. He has a good sense of screenplay and style. He has a sense of camera and lighting.
How did you prepare for the role?
I had to learn the language.
I have lived six years in Bombay. I can understand Marathi but cannot speak it fluently.
My staff is from Bombay and I asked them to speak to me in Marathi throughout the making of the film.
I think I understand the language completely now. That really helped me with the film.
Did you have to lose or gain weight for the part?
Yes, I had to lose weight because a scientist can’t be bulky or look muscular.
My body language is also different, the way I walk and talk is totally different.
What did you do to lose weight?
For me it’s easy, because I have a tendency to lose weight.
I cut down on carbs after 7 pm, and ate everything before that time.
I did 40 minutes of normal exercise routines. I didn’t have to lose much, maybe five kilos.
You worked with Mithun Chakraborty in the film. How did he inspire or help you?
It was a life-inspiring lesson working with Mithunda. He is a self-made man, who has struggled in his career.
We bonded over food -- he is a foodie and cooks really well.
When he came to Bombay, he had no money to pay the rent. He used to cook food for his friends to stay at their place. His story is inspiring, just like Shivkar Talpade’s story.
Like Mithun, you are an outsider with no filmi background. Was it difficult to become an actor?
Today, the industry has become more accepting of outsiders. At least three or four ‘outsiders’ enter Bollywood, especially from television.
It was difficult in Mithunda’s time to get entry into studios. He had to stand outside and watch film stars.
We became friends on the sets. He is an 18-year-old in his head, which is amazing. He has a lot of energy.
He is a natural actor, who wouldn’t put in a lot of method to the acting. He’s got a certain style, and I have learnt that from him.
Your co-star in the film is Pallavi Sharda.
She plays a tamasha girl in the film. We needed an actor, who was a trained classical dancer.
She is a Bharatnatyam dancer.
She is talented and one of the most intelligent actresses I have worked with.
You wife Tahira lives in Chandigarh. How tough is a long-distance marriage? How often do you meet your family?
I meet them every month. The only reason they didn’t shift to Mumbai is because I'm hardly here.
Both our families live in Chandigarh. But very soon, they will be coming to Mumbai for good.
A newspaper report claimed that Kareena Kapoor did not want to work with you because you are not a star.
That did not happen. Kareena gave a quote and I have also made it clear that there was a genuine date issue.
Why have you changed the spelling of your name?
It was always like that. My dad is an astrologer and I never had an option. I always had a double ‘N’ and double ‘R’.
After I did a journalism course, I was planning to take a two-month sabbatical. But I was thrown out of my place and given a ticket to Bombay!
Normally, log bhaag ke actor bante hain, mujhe bhagaya gaya tha (people run away from home to become an actor, but I was made to run away). So it was a very different story.
My dad was my mentor. I am a very laidback person and not very ambitious, so he pushes me all the time.
Are you conscious of your fitness levels? What is your diet like?
I think six packs is a fad. I have a normal diet. I don’t go in for crash diets.
I exercise for 40 minutes a day, five days a week.
I lost weight for this film and Dum Lagake Haisha. I play a skinny guy in the film.
It depends on the character I am playing. If I have to play a conventional hero with bulging biceps, I would probably go for it.
Which is the most exotic location you have been to on a film shoot or otherwise?
I love Rishikesh in Uttarkhand. I like Ladakh -- I’ve been there thrice. I like the North East region a lot, like Shillong.
What is the best thing about being a known actor?
You don’t have to introduce yourself. You don’t have to carry a visiting card.
What are your biggest worries?
I need to spend time with my family.