Actor Ayushmann Khurrana is quickly becoming the brand ambassador of Indian male sexual problems. Riding on the success of Bareilly Ki Barfi, the actor is all set for his next film Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, which deals with problems of erectile dysfunction. Talking about this new tag, the actor says that real men go through problems not superheroes.
Ayushmann Khurrana opens up to Nikita Wadhawan about his new film, dealing with performance anxiety and his experience of doing a thriller film
What was your reaction when your first heard the film?
The first thought was irony of life. First, I played a sperm donor and now a character with performance anxiety. I always knew that I was the apt and obvious casting for this one. Generally, I am not very impulsive when it comes to choosing films, but this was instant.
Are you tired of portraying India’s sexual problems on screen?
Not at all. If men have more sexual problems I am ready to portraying it on screen. I am very secure as a man and as an actor to portray such problem on screen. Moreover, we talk so much about female fertility but we shy away from talking about men fertility problems.
As a man, how important was it for you to bring this topic to the audience?
We have this terrible male ego as we still live in a patriarchal society, we get uncomfortable talking about male sexual issue. It is ingrained in our head since childhood that you have to be an alpha male and we look up to superheroes like Iron Man, Superman and Batman. All of them are fictitious, a real man will have problems, physical and emotional.
Parents play a very important role in such matters, but some parents have a very regressive mentality. Can a film help change that mentality?
It is better to get sex-education from your parents rather that from your friends or the internet. It should not be a taboo in your head, it should come across as a natural thing. The middle class is the one that is carrying our nation forward and they need to be progressive. Upper class and lower class don’t give two hoots about anybody, but the middle class want to uphold a flag of our so called “culture”.
People are saying that you have becoming the middle class superstar…how does that feel?
That was the endeavour, from my first film to have my own space in this industry and do something radical and still cater to mass audience. I love to be tagged like that. We need to marry content and commerce. Content has been successfully brought up by Aamir sir and Akshay sir.
Do you try to emulate Aamir and Akshay?
They are superstars. I have grown up watching them. They are setting the benchmark. Also, I am glad that I am getting such unconventional scripts, I want to do such kind of film. But I also want to change the genre one in a while, like I am doing Sriram Raghavan’s yet-untitled thriller.
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan is clashing with your Bareilly Ki Barfi and Bhumi’s Toilet Ek Prem Katha. Does that make you nervous?
Both the films have earned their share of numbers. At the same time if both the films are good, both will work. Back in 1978 Bachchan sahab came up with four films in one month and all worked. I am glad that both our previous outing did well, so that positivity will come to this film.
Are you enjoying this genre or are you waiting for a change?
I am happy doing these films, but it is important to have your own space in the industry and then do a gear shift. For longevity, stay in one space for a while and then do a dramatic turn.
Is it a lesson that you learned from Nautanki Saala and Hawaizaada?
Maybe. In the end, it boils down to entertainment and the quality of the script, and how it connects with the audience. I have seen many ups and downs in these five years but success is a lousy teacher, failure teaches you much more. You should always go with your instinct for a script and sometimes it turns out different than what you expected. There is a lot of luck involved.
With your recommendation for Rajkummar Rao, do you think you have entered the big leagues, where you have a position to decide who will be opposite you?
I was the first one to be approached for Bareilly… and we were mulling over who can play the other part when we decided on Rajkummar. Moreover, he is such a talented actor that he doesn’t need anyone’s recommendation.
How has the experience of first thriller been so far?
Amazing, Sriram Raghavan was a part of my bucket list. I am glad to be working with him.
Any other directors on your bucket list?
Many. Imitaz Ali, Shoojit Sircar again and Raju Hirani, of course.