Wednesday November 20, 2019

Ayushmann Khurrana: Bollywood’s Unlikely Hit Machine

To this, Johar added: "As a fan, I would want him to do something different other than the films dealing with taboo topics, through which he can increase his fan base and stay strong at the box office."

Ayushmann Khurrana
Ayushmann Khurrana. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Sugandha Rawal

Actor Ayushmann Khurrana entered Bollywood seven years ago — and that is the number of back-to-back hits he has churned out over the past two years with “Bala”, his new release, becoming the latest chapter in his success story.

With “Bala”, Ayushmann registered his career best opening-day haul of Rs 10.15 crore on Friday, eclipsing the Rs 10.05-crore day one collection of his last release, “Dream Girl”. Incidentally, “Bala” is his 13th film in Bollywood since he started off with “Vicky Donor” in 2012 and, in the likely scenario that the film will see profits, Ayushmann will have an enviable track record of nine hits out of 13 releases.

For an actor who started out being identified as the master of offbeat roles and a poster boy of unconventional films, Ayushmann Khurrana has emerged Bollywood’s most unconventional hit machine.

When the actor entered Hindi films with Shoojit Sircar’s “Vicky Donor” in 2012, he instantly won hearts with his charm and witty screen presence. The film, presenting a light-hearted take on the taboo attached with sperm donation and artificial insemination, was said to be made on a budget of Rs 5 crore. It went on to earn Rs 65 crore.

“Vicky Donor” made Ayushmann a household name, the multiplex hero with guy-next-door charm. What followed, however, was something he wasn’t prepared for. Films such as “Nautanki Saala!”, “Bewakoofiyaan”, “Hawaizaada” and “Meri Pyaari Bindu” performed below expectations, and the only bright spot in that early phase was the unusual “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”.

Ayushmann, with his blend of good looks, abundant acting skills and singing talent, isn’t exactly the sort of actor you keep down for long. The actor who started his journey on the small screen soon understood that, with changing times and tastes, the winning trick lay in being part of stories about flaws and imperfections, and in essaying men who has issues to struggle with.

He loves the thrill of risk-taking with such roles, he tells you, and, if anything, delivering back-to-back hits only increases that thrill.

“I don’t feel scared as such but I think when you deliver back-to-back successful films, the producers of your film feel confident their film will get a better opening at the box-office I feature in it. I think after being a part of successful films, you become more fearless and more confident because you know that your past choices have been proven right. It tends you to take more risks,” Ayushmann said while interacting with media recently.

Over the past two years, he has struck gold with experimental subjects such as “Bareilly Ki Barfi” (2017), “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” (2017″), “AndhaDhun” (2018), “Badhaai Ho” (2018), “Article 15” (2019), “Dream Girl” (2019) and now “Bala”.

If he won hearts as innocent Chirag Dubey by offering flavours of smalltown India in “Bareilly Ki Barfi”, Ayushmann opened a dialogue around erectile dysfunction with “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”.

He continued his golden run essaying the blind hero in Sriram Raghavan’s quirky thriller “AndhaDhun” and showing the plight of a frustrated older son over his aged mother’s pregnancy in “Badhaai Ho”. He went for a police officer avatar to fight against discrimination in “Article 15” and took on the image of an entertainer in “Dream Girl”, while putting spotlight on the subject of loneliness. All these stories were tied together with Ayushmann’s enduring charisma and effervescence.

Talking numbers, “Bareilly Ki Barfi”, which was made on approximate budget of Rs 20 crore, earned over Rs 18 crore in first week of release in August 2017 while “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”, made on a meagre budget, did a lifetime domestic business of Rs 41.9 crore upon opening in September the same year.

Ayushmann Khurrana
Was confident of my film choices: Ayushmann Khurrana. (Wikimedia Commons)

With “AndhaDhun”, Ayushmann went global as the film did wonders not only at the domestic box-office but the international market as well. The film, also featuring Tabu and Radhika Apte, opened to rave reviews in India on October last year and made over Rs 95.63 crore. The film grossed over Rs 300 crore in China after its April release this year. It is set to release in Japan later this month.

“Badhaai Ho” gave Ayushmann his first Rs 100 crore superhit in India, opening in October last year.

“Article 15”, which opened on June 28 this year, registered a lifetime domestic collection of Rs 63.05 crore.

“I think I pushed the envelope a little bit further by choosing another script that was about a taboo topic that was not explored in detail. It gave people a lot of laughs but I hope it also taught people more about love, unconditional love. It was meant to trigger a thought, spark a conversation and I’m delighted that ‘Badhaai Ho’ did all this in its own unique way,” Ayushmann said about the film.

“Dream Girl”, a September 2019 release, is his highest-grossing movie as of now, having raked in over Rs 139 crore. In “Dream Girl”, directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa, Ayushmann played the role of a man with the talent of impersonating a woman’s voice.

Now, he is winning over the box-office game all over again with “Bala”, a film about a young man struggling with premature balding.

According to trade analysts, it is “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” time for Ayushmann.

“He got a hit formula wherein he took up subjects which were a taboo or were brushed under the carpet, and told these stories in a neat and clean manner, laced with humour. So families could watch his films get entertained even as the films also gave a message,” trade expert Girish Johar told IANS.

According to trade expert Rajesh Thadani, Ayushmann’s “common man” appeal makes him a star.

“People think he is the common man or more of a boy-next-door, and that has worked for him,” Thadani told IANS.

The back-to-back hits come with some pitfalls. There will be the pressure to continue the golden run, pick the right movie with a lingering question — to continue on the “offbeat” path or not?

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“The expectation from him is sky high now. Everyone will have huge expectations. He has to pick and choose very carefully,” said Thadani.

To this, Johar added: “As a fan, I would want him to do something different other than the films dealing with taboo topics, through which he can increase his fan base and stay strong at the box office.”

Ayushmann’s love for offbeat cinema will continue as he will next be seen with megastar Amitabh Bachchan in Shoojit Sircar’s “Gulabo Sitabo”, and address the issue of homosexuality in “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan”. (IANS)

Next Story

Good News Is When An Actor Works For My Banner At A Lower Price: Karan Johar

Filmmaker Karan Johar, is readying his new multistarrer production "Good Newwz" for a Christmas release

Filmmaker Karan Johar
Karan Johar is readying his new production "Good Newwz". Wikimedia Commons

Filmmaker Karan Johar, who is readying his new multistarrer production “Good Newwz” for a Christmas release, says he feels really happy when an actor agrees to work for his banner at a lower price. He adds that Akshay Kumar, the hero of “Good Newwz”, has not given him any good news so far on that front.

“Good news to me is when an actor agrees to do my film at a low price, but that’s a good news Akshay hasn’t given me so far,” Johar said with a laugh, while interacting with the media at the trailer launch of the film along with the lead cast, comprising Akshay, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kiara Advani and Diljit Dosanjh, besides director Raj Mehta on Monday in Mumbai.

He added: “I feel if I hear some good news, then there is also a bad news around the corner — unless the good news is about something like the birth of a child. I still remember when I got the information of my two babies, I felt really happy. I feel, after hearing every good news you hear some bad news, and I guess there is some kind of ‘kabhi khushi kabhie gham’ situation that takes place in our lives. So, I don’t hold on to that news with a lot of joy ever. Rather, I am a bit of a cynic that way.”

“Good Newwz” is the third collaboration between Johar and Akshay after “Kesari” and “Brothers”. Next year, Akshay will be seen in “Sooryavanshi”, which is co-produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.

The film marks the directorial debut of Raj Mehta.

Karan Johar
Karan Johar says that Dharma Productions has always maintained the ethos of treating every artist equally. Wikimedia Commons

Johar admitted the weird spelling of the film’s title was an outcome of his team’s inherent superstitious streak.

“There is a certain inherent superstition in the creative world, so earlier in my career I was obsessed with the alphabet K. I released films starting with alphabet K, which also starred Kareena, but then a few of them didn’t work. I felt it (the urge to name films with K) had stayed with me for no reason, so I gave up on that superstition. After that, I encountered Raj Mehta who is paranoid about everything. He, along with Azeem Dayani — who is the curator of this film’s music — were paranoid and told me that we should name this film ‘A Good News’. I told them ‘A Good News’ is incorrect English. So, they said we would have to change the spelling. We decided to name the film ‘Good Newwz’. Personally, it’s rather ridiculous, but actually everybody has learnt to accept it and envelope it, so I would give credit for the film’s name to Raj and his team,” said Johar.

Asked how he makes sure that equal rights are given to men and women in his production company, which is headed by him, he said: “We at Dharma Productions have always maintained the ethos of making sure that everyone including men, women, artists, and technicians get paid solidly for their craft, art, ability, work and worth. All of us are here from the blend of commerce and art. It is something I endorse strongly. When it comes to female-led films, we always make sure that there never is a disparity from our end.”

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He continued: “We have given profit share to female actors. In near future, you will see producer’s credit given in a female-led film. Where they (actresses) dominate and lead the film, they must have a humongous part of the pie. You will hear announcements in the future where women-lead films produced by Dharma Productions will have strong producer’s credit and profit shares (for heroines). There is and there will not be any disparity in my company.”

“Good Newwz” is scheduled to release on December 27. (IANS)