Ayushmann Khurrana deserves to call himself the BRAVEST leading man of this generation – here’s why
When Bollywood is often accused of being nepotistic (a charge it definitely can’t escape), we often forget that there are outsiders who break rankles of the family clans to get into the industry and make a big name for themselves. Some of these outsiders are the rare ones who have made a smooth successful transition from television to Bollywood. Of course, the first name that comes to our mind when it comes to thinking about these actors is Shah Rukh Khan. Then there is the National award winning actress Vidya Balan, along with Sushant Singh Rajput, also Hansika Motwani down South. And yes, who can forget Ayushmann Khurrana!
Ayushmann first achieved immense popularity when he won the second season of Roadies at the age of 20. From thereon, he became quite a recognisable face on television, hosting quite a few popular shows like India’s Got Talent and Extraa Innings. When it was heard that he is going to make his Bollywood debut as the leading man in 2012’s Vicky Donor, not many were surprised. So many television personalities have tried their luck on the big screen. Many failed and returned back to the small screen, and I am sure people were expecting the same from the multi-faceted actor. However. many took lightly Ayushmann’s ability to chose roles that make him stand out from the pack, and Vicky Donor was just the beginning. Sure, not everything he did was successful, and he was even accused of not making his performance stand out in every role.
But what one cannot take out of his career is the risque factor – choosing roles that no mainstream actor would dare to touch. He is perhaps one of the rare few mainstream actors who want to play heroes who have no qualms in showing off their character’s inadequacies, and revel in that – his filmography is a big proof of that. In the ’80s we had actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Farroque Shaikh who played leading men in a very simplistic manner compared to Amitabh Bachchan and Sunny Deol’s larger than life portrayal. However, the depiction of these low-key protagonists got overshadowed as Bollywood entered the ’90s and in the new millennium, with many leading actors choosing to play dream characters that show off their abs, dance like a dream and fight many goons at a time. But then we have actors like Irrfan Khan, Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana, who are doing their best to bring the era of Shah and Shaikh on the ’80s and are getting success doing so.
As this feature is about Khurrana, let’s start with his debut movie to understand how he is slowly bringing a revolution…
In this John Abraham-produced, Shootjit Sircar-directed entertainer, Ayushmann played a happy go lucky Dilli youth who is chosen by a fertility expert to be a sperm donor, because he has fantastic virility. Normally mainstream Bollywood would balk at any role if it has something serious to do with anything below the belt. However, not only does the movie openly talks about sperm, Ayushmann bravely takes on the part that could have fallen flat and made him a butt of ridicule, if not handled properly. But nothing of that sort happened, and Vicky Donor turned out to be a gamechanger in Bollywood. And yes, we have a bold new hero who is ready to take on risque roles without getting to Masti levels. With Paani Da Rang, we also came to know that he is a really good singer and composer too.
Ayushmann’s second movie was a safer movie compared to his debut, but still, the setting of the naatak company and his character was not something we usually see in Bollywood movies. Talking about his character, he played a do-gooder theatre company owner who, in trying to help a suicidal friend, ends up falling for his ex and suffers from the resultant guilt. Here we have a hero who not only crosses the forbidden friendship line by falling for his friend’s love interest, he is shown going on a downward spiral in guilt as a result of the same. That’s quite a change when it comes to the unapologetic depiction of male leads (remember Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai?)
Ayushmann Khurrana plays a youngster who loses his job due to the recession and has to depend on his girlfriend’s (Sonam Kapoor) finances to help him sail through. Now do you expect the alpha males in Bollywood to do that?
Hawaizaada was a failure and a boring excuse for a biopic. But it was a notably different attempt where Ayushmann played Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, who is said to be the first human to have constructed India’s first unmanned plane. His wavering accent aside, this was a role that was risky that an upcoming actor could choose to take early in his career.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha
When Bollywood is often accused of being too image conscious and depicting its heroes and heroines as Greek Gods and Goddesses, here was a different love story between a village bumpkin and his not-so-slim wife. Not many actors would choose to be paired with an overweight debutant, but Ayushmann Khurrana took the challenge and gave us one of the most natural, enjoyable romantic entertainers of the decade. But it’s not just about his pairing with Bhumi and letting her walk away with most of the praises, he also had the gumption to play a deeply flawed, insecure character whose idea of beauty is skin-deep. Remember, in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, SRK only fell for Kajol when she shed her tomboyish appearance to accept her more feminine side. But here, Ayushmann’s character doesn’t wait for his wife to shed weight, but instead repents for his own attitude towards his lovely and responsible wife. Expecting any other actor to play such a role?
Meri Pyaari Bindu
Perhaps, the safest role that Ayushmann had played in his career. This YRF had him play a Bengali writer who falls for his childhood friend and neighbour Bindu (Parineeti Chopra). However, unlike any other YRF movie, this is not ‘a boy and girl get happily married in the end’ kind of story. The girl marries someone else, and the boy finally accepts the fact that she doesn’t belong to him anymore. MPB ended up being a flop at the box office but was a different love story that deserves better treatment.
Bareilly Ki Barfi
When Bareilly Ki Barfi was released, many reviewers criticised Ayushmann Khurrana’s character for being a bully, but they ignored the fact that that was the whole point of his arc. When it comes to his treatment towards his best friend (played by a scene-stealing Rajkummar Rao), Ayushmann’s character is definitely dislikable, but he showed that there is room for him to redeem here. It’s another fact that many Bollywood heroic characters are often bullies (Akash in Dil Chahta Hai, Rahul the ragger in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai), but the movies often downplay that. Also how many leading actors would let a more talented co-star play a scene-stealing role, and take on a far less sympathetic character? You know the answer…
Shubh Mangal Saavdhan
Ayushmann Khurrana certainly has a ‘d**k’ fascination. While his debut movie showed him having excellent virility, in his latest, he plays a character who suffers in that department. When we don’t expect our mainstream heroes to play sperm donors, do you expect them to play a man with performance issues in the bedroom? What about the so-called alpha hero image?
The success of SMS showed that audience wants to see leading men with flaws that make them easily identifiable as any of us. And we have to thank actors like Ayushmann Khurrana to spearhead that change in perception.
On behalf of BollywoodLife, we wish the handsome, supremely talented Ayushmann Many Many Happy Returns of the Day!