Ayushmann Khurrana: Proud To Be The Everyman Hero

If Amol Palekar, the workingclass hero  of the 1970s who found an instant connectivity with  audiences through his working class comedies directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee, addressed sexual problem he would be Ayushmann Khurrana.

Laughs Ayushmann, “That’s a good space to be in. I am proud to be the Everyman Hero.I  don’t know how it happened. But it happened. I am the face of the common man, the guy who blurts  out truths about bodily functions that we  may otherwise not want to  speak about in our living rooms. And then we discover that there’re so many others who haven’t spoken about those problems .So in a way  I am not just face but also the voice of  the common man.”

 Did Ayushmann work towards that  image?

“Not that I know of. Not consciously for sure. It all started with my first film Vicky Donor. Everyone was slightly squeamish about  sperm donation. But I took it on. Curiously my successful films since then have been small-town affairs.My city-slick films have  not worked  so  far.  Dum Lagake Haisha  was set in Hardwar and BareillyKiBarfi in  Bareilly. My next release Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan(SMS)  is also set  in a  small town. So hopefully my romance with the outback will continue to pay off,” laughs Ayushmann exhausted with all the back-to-back promotional activity for Bareilly Ki Barfi and now SMS.

Sighs the Everyman hero, “I had barely finished promoting Bareilly .. when Shubh Mangal’s promotions started.  I  got no time to  celebrate, no time to sit back and look at the success  of the film. I wanted to spend  time with my family. You know ,more than me they’ve so much to say about the success  of a film…But all that will have to wait until the release of SMS. Maybe if I am lucky it will be time  for a double  celebration.”

In the meanwhile there is no pause for awkwardness  over the ….ahem…adult theme of  SMS.  Says Ayusmann, “Erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety are routine problems  men face. But no one talks about it. I was very clear  about where we would go with this.And I was right. There’s not a cheap word or gesture in the film. That’s because Aanand Sir(Aanand Rai) is  on board as  producer. He makes films for the family. He would never do anything that he is uncomfortable watching with his little daughter.”

It was that surety of a sleaze-free cinema that made Ayushmann comfortable  doing SMS. “See, I am not comfortable in the comfort zone. What works for me is a cinema that opens up doors and windows into the middleclass consciousness. It is the kind of cinema being done by Akshay Sir(Kumar) and Aamir Sir(Khan). I  am  glad to be doing my own humble bit in addressing taboo middleclass subjects that the entire family can watch without squirming.”

Ayushmann is not afraid to seem grey in his personality. “In fact the  guy I play in Bareilly Ki Barfi has a distinctly  mean streak in him. It is  only towards  the end that his conscience  is prodded awake. In contrast  the  guy I play in  SMS is the epitome  of kindness. He is sweet and gentleman. And he  has  a  performance-anxiety problem.So the poor guy gets a lot of sympathy with maybe some chuckles thrown in.”

Ayushmann’s co-star Bhumi Pednekar who was paired with him in the hit Dum Lagake Haisha has just had big success in Toilet Ek Prem Katha.

And Ayushmann is  rooting for them both. “She has  a big success.I’ve my own success(Bareilly Ki Barfi).Hopefully  our combination will work to make SMS a success.”

Bhumi, by the way , was a lot more heftier when Ayushmann worked with her earlier. “And  I had to carry her in Dum Lagake Haisha. I don’t have to carry her  in SMS. But I am asked to do so at promotional events .So she is keeping me on my toes.”

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