Known for portraying ordinary men - often flawed and insecure - with almost no one character being similar to the other, Ayushmann Khuranna says novelty of any kind inspires him.
"Novelty inspires me, any kind, any shape or form. It could be the first attempt in Hindi cinema. That inspires me. Any person living a mundane life, 9 to 5, and still motivated to live, that inspires me, because as an artist you have a very vibrant life. You live a different character each day," Khurrana said during an interaction at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet on Thursday.
Khurrana, whose next film Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan based on homosexuality is slated to hit the theatres on February 21, said he has prepared for each of his vastly diverse roles by being with the milieu and also banked on his exposure to Hindi theatre as also the convent education he received.
"The idea is to be one with the milieu, get grasp of the colloquial jargons, twangs, and India is a country where every ten kilometres, the dialect changes.
"I am glad that I have done Hindi theatre, Hindi public speaking, though I was convent educated. So that made me quite a linguist. That exposure was quite early in life," he said during the session at the iconic Victoria Memorial Hall premises.
From essaying the role a sperm donor in his debut film Vicky Donor, to depicting a man with erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, or a blind pianist in the 2018 thriller Andhadhun, Khurrana has been hailed as having "cornered the market when it comes to playing flawed, insecure men with confidence issues".
The films, generally set in small towns amid middle-class environs, have time and again dealt with taboo subjects, and are sprinkled with liberal doses of wit, humour and comic situations. The much feted actor says all of these are essential for the movies of his genre.
"By default these characters are set in middle class, small towns. That's where the conflict is there. In urban centres, like Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata they are receptive to taboo subjects. So where is the conflict then?
"In the middle class society, we're like the flag bearers of morality, that's where the humour emanates, when you are stuck in that conventional dogma. And we are not trying to make people laugh as the situation is funny. For the male lead or the main lead, it is tragic," he said.
As for the upcoming film, Khurrana says he has a lot of friends who are part of the LGBTQ (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and queers) community. "And it's a journey. I am learning every minute".
The 35-year-old actor gave credit to the audience for receiving well his films themed on progressive subjects. "The choices I am making are going down well with the audience. Audience is also evolving and receiving well these subjects which are progressive.
"Earlier these used to be for art-house cinema stuff. But now these middle of the road cinemas - a great collaboration of content and commerce - are evoking good responses," he said.
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan would be another case study, the actor says, calling it the first film dealing with homosexuality in the realm of the commercial Hindi cinema.
"In parallel or arthouse cinema we have seen films dealing with homosexuality. But those were the films catering to the converted. The audience watching these films are within the LGBT community already.
"We want to reach out to people, who are averse to homosexuality. This is the first Hindi mainstream commercial film in India based on homosexuality. We hope it will at least usher in the conversation and have a discussion on LGBTQ," Khurrana added.
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