In this interview with indianexpress.com, Ayushmann Khurrana talks about his upcoming film Andhadhun. The actor also reveals why he chooses to play unconventional characters in films.
Q. You personally called Sriram Raghavan saying you wanted to work with him. But we have seen how actors generally don’t like to reach out to directors once they become successful.
I had gotten to know the one liner that a blind pianist witnessed a murder. That is quite an oxymoron. So, I was quite fascinated by that and I came to know that Sriram Raghavan is directing this film. Working with him was a part of my bucket list. I always wanted to work with him, so I texted him. This is the first time I texted a director after becoming an established actor. I met him and asked him, ‘why don’t you take an audition of mine?’. Next day, he took my screen test, and we did a couple of scenes. He loved it.
Then he asked for my dates. It is as simple as that. You have to be courageous as an actor to ask a director for an audition or a screen test after being an established actor. I am someone without an ego. For an artiste to grow, for a person to grow, you have to learn. A learner cannot afford to have an ego. Learning can never stop. If it does, then it is death. Everywhere actors give screen tests, even in Hollywood, because ultimately there is nothing bigger than the script.
Q. In your career as an actor, you have dared to choose off-beat characters, characters that the audience can relate to. You had once said you want to be like Amol Palekar.
It is just that the kind of films Amol Palekar, Farooq Sheikh or Naseeruddin Shah would choose back in the time, I have been choosing those kind of unconventional roles and films. These kind of films are working now and we have audience for these films. We are doing commercial business with these films. At the same time, I just don’t want to do only one particular kind of film or stick to one genre of films. I want to explore myself, like Andhadhun is a mould breaker for me.
Q. What is the working process of Sriram Raghavan?
He is the quintessential rule breaker. He is impromptu and spontaneous as a director. He reacts to situations. If something is written on paper, he will probably spin it in his head once he sees the location, and probably mould the scene according to the location. He comes up with different ideas with different scenes. You have to be completely ready as an actor. Working with him reminds you of your theatre ‘improv’ days, it is exciting and challenging at the same time.
Q. How did you prepare for this film, since you had to play a blind character? And how do you manage to play your characters so convincingly?
This was the hardest film for me. In other films, I had real life references. I have met those people. I know people who could have been like the characters I have played earlier. But it wasn’t like that for me in Andhadhun. I knew a blind man. I knew a pianist, but I didn’t know a blind pianist, which made it all the more difficult for me. But we did a lot of research and workshops. To begin with, I learnt how to play a piano. I was in constant touch with blind pianist. I observed him and made videos of him. I shot him on camera and then I started behaving like him. I blindfolded myself and walked around in my house. I walked on the roads with people around me to protect me. So, it was difficult but it was a lot of fun. An interesting experience in itself.
I believe in the fact that to portray a character convincingly, you need to live that character, own that character. You have to be earnest with every line that you deliver. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to cut off your true self. I think I can switch on and off easily. I can be laughing before a take, but can be serious in the take. I think that comes from my experience in street theatre. I don’t get bothered by the things happening around.
Q. Has your motivation to do films changed since you did your first film in 2012?
Not at all. I am child-like when it comes to films. I am a guy from Chandigarh who is fascinated by Bollywood, by cinema per say. I think with time that fascination grows. I think I am filled with excitement when it comes to doing films.
Q. Have you succeeded in creating a safe place for yourself in the industry?
I am glad that I have chosen this path. Because unconventional path is the best path. This is the time when novel scripts are working. With the kind of films I am doing, it is easy to grab eyeballs. I think it is the best zone to be in. And, I am glad that I have managed to make that space for myself.