When Vicky Donor posters were put up across the city of Mumbai, audiences showed little interest in it. But little did Ayushmann know that one night was about to change his career and life forever. I mean, it requires some convincing for people to queue up to watch the story of a sperm donor. Vicky Donor's success story is very much similar to that of the Hollywood sleeper hit The Hangover. The actor is an overnight sensation and the who's who of Bollywood wants him. The first ones to pick him were his Vicky Donor director Shoojit Sirkar for Hamara Bajaj and Rohan Sippy for Nautanki Saala. The move from theatre to television to the tinsel town is notoriously tricky and Khurana knows it better. Oozing self-confidence that borders on cockiness, Ayushmann tells me that he doesn't take time easing into a role. People found me funny because they felt my character and lived it for the two hours. Acting is his therapy and for the moment he loves doing that. Oh, and he loves taboo too! So move on 'Traditional Bollywood'. It's time for a change. The change is Ayushmann.
Do you still wake up in a shock knowing your first film was a big hit?
To have my dream debut work wonders is a dream in itself. I still bite my fingers and think – Did Vicky Donor work? But it had to, to be honest. I've waited four years for the right script, the right director and the right producer. I got all three and I feel blessed. On television you can do a lot of stuff. You can joke around; you can get away with many things. In movies, it's all about the right choices. One small mistake can ruin it all. I am going easy on the scripts I am choosing to be a part of. There have been times when I have rejected scripts and sometimes directors have rejected me but I am ok with that. I've entered the Bollywood domain and I am ready for everything now.
How does it feel to be an overnight sensation?
Am I the overnight sensation? Yes, I am. The film worked and I am feeling happy. But I was an outsider in the industry. I've interviewed everyone in Bollywood. For the past four years I've seen it closely and today I am on the other side. So I think it's pretty cool. I am feeling very normal even after my debut success.
Well, this is just the beginning for great actors like you.
Oh, don't call me great yet. Great actors never retire. I have a long way to go (laughs). But to put it rightly, great performers never retire. They evolve with time. I look up to Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and he is the only one who has evolved with time. He has gone with the time. I am a new comer but I started as a theatre person, radio and television. But that made me a spontaneous performer. This is just the beginning and there’s a lot to achieve.
So, what kind of movies or roles inspire you?
I am a hardcore Hindi movie buff but I see a lot of international cinema too. I like Majid Majidi type of movies where the scripts are very realistic and earthy. From Bollywood I love Mr Bachchan's role in Shakti, Shah Rukh's role in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa or Aamir Khan from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. These characters are really endearing and I like to watch such movies.
How was the first narration with Rohan Sippy for Nautanki Saala?
I've interviewed Rohan Sippy in the past when he came to our office to promote his movie The President Is Coming. I also reviewed the film on MTV. I've grown up watching commercial Indian cinema but when I went for the narration of this particular film – Nautanki Saala, I heard the narration from Rohan in the same room where Ramesh Sippy saab narrated Sholay to Mr. Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan. I feel honoured.
I am doing another film with Shoojit Sarkar called Hamara Bajaj. He is busy with Jafna right now but I will get busy once he wraps Jafna. Hamara Bajaj is a story of a tourist guide who wants to be a Bollywood star. He works as a guide outside the Taj Mahal and aspires to enter the film industry. I am really looking forward to this film. It's a crazy film.
What's a bigger compliment – audience remembering you or your characters?
I want people to remember my characters from my films. It's a bigger compliment. Of course, I want them to remember me too (laughs). I guess that makes you a bigger hero if your roles work. Bhiku Mhatre is still remembered, Shaakal is remembered, Mogambo and Gabbar Singh. So you know what I'm talking about. One role that is written in history books. I wish to be a part of that list too. I was stunned to know that even Mr Bachchan wanted to play Gabbar Singh.
Have you ever come across a mad tourist guide?
Lots! The most fascinated I have been is when I meet tourist guides. They make me laugh out loud. I've been to the Laal Qila, Taj Mahal and the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore. They have a very distinct false ego (laughs). If you try to question them they feel very offended. They think they know it all. They are under the impression that they've created these historical monuments. I have incorporated some of their behaviour in Hamara Bajaj.