Ayushmann Khurrana: The gifted star of offbeat movies

Ayushmann has played all of his characters with commendable spontaneity, which has been observed by everybody who has watched his films

Ayushmann Khurrana: The gifted star of offbeat movies

Biswadeep Ghosh

Raj Shaandilyaa’s comedy Dream Girl became a member of the ₹ 100-crore mark some time ago, and the film continues to make viewers gravitate to the theatres. The well-scripted film with many gut-busting moments stars Ayushmann Khurrana, whose performance in the titular role has been applauded by critics and viewers alike.

In Dream Girl, Ayushmann is a man with a talent for sounding like a woman. He finds a job at a call centre where he impersonates the female voice and talks to customers, attracting male attention. Ayushmann has played the character with commendable spontaneity, which has been observed by everybody who has watched the film.

Born Nishant Khurrana in Chandigarh, the gifted actor enjoys acting in films that look around the stereotype. Filmgoers would remember Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor, his acting debut in 2012, in which he had played the titular role of a sperm donor. He had also sung Paani Da Rang, a hit number from the film. After Vicky Donor became a box-office success, it seemed a star of medium-budget films had been born overnight.

Seven years after the release of Vicky Donor, Ayushmann is an established star who has played several author-backed characters in films of ‘his’ kind. All of them haven't been box-office successes. He has been also guilty of acting in mediocre offerings like Nautanki Saala! (2013), Bewakoofiyan (2014) and Hawaizaada (2015), which are among his initial films that failed to do good business and impress critics.

Luckily for him, he found some good scripts at a critical phase of his career. He signed on the dotted line for projects that helped in the creation of Brand Ayushmann and also worked at the box-office. Every star must have hits to stay afloat. Today, Ayushmann has a few of them in his kitty.

2017 proved to be the turning point of his career. Ayushmann starred in Akshay Roy’s half-baked romantic comedy Meri Pyaari Bindu. Few critics liked the film, and viewers didn’t find much to write home about either.

In the same year, however, he struck gold with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s engaging romantic comedy Bareilly Ki Barfi. Playing the owner of a printing press who has also written a novel that hardly anybody has read in his nondescript hometown, he was fairly impressive. That the film made many viewers smile was good news for the actor.

In RS Prasanna’s much-appreciated dramedy Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, also released in the same year, he is a newly engaged marketing professional suffering from erectile dysfunction. The film was let down by a poorly scripted climax, but it managed to attract viewers to become commercially successful.

The actor has avoided stereotypical characters, choosing to play the pianist who pretends to be visually challenged and finds himself in a house where the owner has been murdered in Sriram Raghavan’s outstanding crime thriller Andhadhun (2018). Brilliantly written and directed, Andhadhun’s chief highlight was the performances by its actors. Ayushmann, along with the accomplished Tabu, delivered the best among them.

And, there have been more. He was most impressive in Amit Sharma’s Badhaai Ho (2018), a sensitive social film in which a young man’s middle-aged parents become pregnant. He was even better as the righteous policeman in the Anubhav Sinha-helmed hard-hitting realistic film Article 15 (2019). The film was inspired by the 2016 Una flogging incident and the 2014 Badaun rape incident, among others, and dealt with the issue of caste discrimination.

Ayushmann prefers to work in ‘risky’ projects. Even when he was a relatively inexperienced actor, he took on the part of an underachiever who is made to marry an overweight woman in Sharad Katariya’s offbeat romance Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). The film was a success, yet, the story was such that it could have easily ignored by the viewers.

The actor has signed up to act in Amar Kaushik’s Bala, a black comedy in which he is the protagonist dealing with premature balding. He is also acting in Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo, a film about eponymous puppet characters, Gulabo and Sitabo. Besides, he is the gay protagonist of Hitesh Kewalya’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, the spin-off of Shubh Mangal Saavdhan.

The actor is seven years old in Bollywood. None of his characters is of the kind seen in the average Hindi masala film. But then, who said Ayushmann is fond of what is predictable, familiar and boring?

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