5 Years of Dum Laga Ke Haisha: How this Sharat Katariya directed film proved to be a milestone in Ayushmann Khurrana’s career

Anish Mohanty

Sometime in 2007, Sharat Katariya, who had written the dialogues for the then just released ‘Bheja Fry’, got an idea about a young man getting married to an over-weight woman and how their relationship develops over a period of time. This thought gave birth to the first draft of ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’. The film was shot and released around seven years later in 2015. It completes five years of its release today. This was Sharat’s second film as a director after ‘10ml Love’. While the film marked the acting debut of Bhumi Pednekar, who till then was working as a casting associate with Shanoo Sharma, it brought about a tectonic shift in Ayushmann Khurrana’s career.

After making a hugely successful debut with ‘Vicky Donor’ in 2012, Ayushmann Khurrana went through a rough patch in his career. His second film ‘Nautanki Saala’ turned out to be an average success. His next two films ‘Bewakoofiyaan’ and ‘Hawaizaada’ slowed down his growth further. His career had hit an absolute low and he was in dire need of a successful film. Yash Raj Films had planned on releasing the film in April but the release date was advanced by two months and a three week window was allotted to promote the film. The film was to arrive just four weeks after ‘Hawaizaada’ had released. With a hero, who was not seen as saleable by many and a new heroine, this was not seen as a smart move by the company. As expected, the film opened to low numbers but soon the word-of-mouth kicked in and the film saw a consistent rise in its collections and was declared a hit in the final tally. Yash Raj Films opted for a ‘platform’ release for the film. Ayushmann explained the term and the release strategy: “Platform release refers to releasing the film in limited screens and if the audience response is positive, the film gets more screens in the second week. We have got around 200 screens this week. We did not give a lot of interviews before the release of the film. On the contrary, we are talking about the film after it has released.  So, giving the film a platform release was a good decision.”

In the film, Ayushmann played Prem Prakash Tiwari, an under confident simpleton from a small town. Talking about the character, he said in an interview, “I want to do play characters that come across as real. The film is about real people and Indians are very complex as far as their personality goes. In this film, both the protagonists are very complex. The male protagonist is complex because of his failures in life. He cannot read and write in English, has an overbearing father and is not very confident as a person. The female protagonist, played by Bhumi, is an overweight girl. The screenplay is about this odd couple and by the end of the film, they emerge as hero and heroine. Prem Prakash Tiwari finally takes the responsibility of the relationship that he shares with his wife. There was a natural progression to the way this character develops throughout the film.”

The film marked a new turn in his career and gave him an inkling of the kind of roles he should take up in the future. Immediately, after the film, he was supposed to shoot for Shoojit Sircar’s ‘1911’, co-starring John Abraham. The film is now being directed by Nikkhil Advani with John being retained as one the leads. There was also Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Agra Ka Dabra’, co-starring Taapsee Pannu and Raashi Khanna which did not take off. Ayushmann, perhaps, wanted to take some time off to think about his next move and that explains why his next film ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ released more than two years after ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’.  The sweet, charming film did not do very well upon its release but warmed up to the audience later who discovered it on home media platforms. His subsequent films ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan’ and ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ brought him back into the reckoning and onto the path which he had started walking on with ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ and the actor has never looked back since then.

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