He was barely 18 when Ayushmann Khurrana tasted ‘success’ for the primary time. Though he didn’t make it to the finals of Channel V’s Popstars, folks had begun to recognise him. “I lost my mind then,” he remembers. Today, about 17 years later, when he’s been named the Best Actor for Andhadhun on the National Awards, he’s hesitant to even discuss how he celebrated the win. “I am not a party person. I was with my family. My parents are also in town. We had a quiet and simple dinner,” he says.

Less than three months in the past, Ayushmann delivered a a lot-claimed sleeper hit with Anubhav Sinha’s arduous-hitting Article 15. His second launch of the 12 months — debutant director Raaj Shandilyaa’s Dream Girl — hit theatres on Friday. In the movie, he performs a personality who performs Sita in his native Ramleela and may converse in each female and male voices. He insists that is his most ‘masala film yet’. “I’m known for subtlety, but I’ve channelled my inner Govinda for this one. This one is for the naysayers who think that I can’t go OTT (over the top). This film will reach out to the single-screen audience. I have made funny films but I don’t believe in gags but this one has them. It’s slapstick funny and requires suspension of disbelief,” he explains.

He recognises that this could possibly be a danger however Ayushmann is in a spot the place he believes he can push the envelope for himself somewhat. “Immediately after Dream Girl, I’ll have Bala, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Gulabo Sitabo, which are all in the middle-of-the-road cinema zone that I know well.”

Ayushmann has been on a hell of a sizzling streak. He’s been the face of 5 again-to-again field-workplace hits which have additionally been critically appreciated — Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Andhadhun, Badhaai Ho and Article 15. Each movie has been radically completely different and his three releases after Dream Girl are equally various. Bala is about untimely baldness, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is a identical-intercourse love story and Gulabo Sitabo is a comedy that pits him reverse Amitabh Bachchan.

The Telegraph sat down with the actor earlier this week on the JW Marriott Hotel in Juhu in Mumbai. Ayushmann took every week off earlier this month for a fast vacation in Austria with his household. It was their first trip in over a 12 months —throughout which as a household they’ve rallied round Ayushmann’s spouse Tahira Kashyap as she battled most cancers and celebrated his profession highs. While it was a a lot-wanted break, it’s meant that every one promotional actions have been cramped into the week earlier than Dream Girl hits theatres. This interview was scheduled for late within the night however Ayushmann has his trusty bananas by his aspect for a fast increase of vitality. He took a fast 5-minute day off to eat the bananas and approve pictures after which it’s time to speak. In a freewheeling dialog, we discuss all the pieces from dealing with success to why his youngsters assume it’s odd their father talks to strangers and why bizarre and quirky tales catch his consideration.

How was the Austrian trip?

It was nice. I like going to locations away from the hustle-bustle, the place there are much less Indians and folks don’t recognise you. You get time for your self. So, there’s this place known as Altaussee close to Salzburg in Austria… it’s stunning. We beloved it a lot that I feel we’d need to go there yearly.

What form of a traveller are you? Do you want hitting all of the vacationer spots or do you simply chill?

It’s higher to be a traveller than a vacationer. As a vacationer, you’re at all times in a rush to go in all places and tick mark locations off your itinerary. I’m not like that. I’d moderately keep in a single place and really feel and be one with that place. Tahira’s like that as effectively, however she’s extra energetic on holidays, she’s extra proactive. She’s the one who’ll e-book tickets and take cost — lodge reservations, cabs, all the pieces. She used to count on all that out of me however obtained actually disillusioned. After the primary 10 years, she realised that I can’t do that… I’m a really unhealthy planner. I can solely give attention to my work and past that, I’m very lazy (laughs). I’m so consumed at work that I don’t get time to simply stand and stare. So, I simply go into a really awful and hibernating mode once I’m not working. I’ll in all probability solely bathe within the afternoon and I don’t take into consideration timelines and deadlines — I don’t need to go anyplace, I simply need to sleep or do nothing… like a log. So, she takes cost and plans all the pieces.

You completed two movies in current months. You’ve additionally launched one other two. How insane has your life been?

Quite insane. Apart from the one week in Austria, it has been fairly loopy. I’ll be having my first break after a very long time on my birthday (September 14) after which for Diwali. After Diwali, I’ll be working till November 22. I actually don’t have any breaks.

Is perform of you desirous to work that rather more or are there exterior pressures?

No exterior pressures. It’s simply that originally I’d do only one movie a 12 months. I’m like that — I need to take it gradual, have a balanced life. But I’ve been getting these nice scripts and I do know that won’t occur if I wait for one more 12 months. I don’t need to be glad with only a first rate script… I would like one thing additional. There is a dearth of fine scripts however I’m simply lucky to be getting the nice ones. There was by no means any aspiration to do 4 movies again-to-again. Now my slate for subsequent 12 months can also be prepared, with Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Gulabo Sitabo. So, now I’m in no hurry to signal one other movie. I’ll be ending Shubh Mangal by the second week of November and after that, I begin taking pictures in the summertime of 2020, not earlier than that. So, that can be an excellent, lengthy break.

Do you could have plans for what you need to do throughout that break?

No plans, I’ll simply chill. I’ll go on an extended vacation, consider my music, jam with my band, write poetry and spend lots of time in Chandigarh, spend time with my mother and father and do nothing.

Sperm donor, erectile dysfunction, untimely baldness, man who speaks like a girl — your characters maintain getting weirder. Is the mantra ‘the weirder the better’?

(Laughs) When it’s weird, it’s fascinating. The thought is to give you a trailer the place folks go, ‘What is this?’ And they need to simply chortle out loud with the bizarreness of the state of affairs. That’s what intrigues me and our nation is stuffed with taboos, it’s full of fabric. There’s no dearth of quirky, taboo topics in our nation. We’re blessed to dwell in a rustic with such a posh society and there’s lots of fodder for cinema.

“There’s no dearth of quirky, taboo subjects in our country,” says Ayushmann Still from the movie

After the runaway success of Vicky Donor, there was a interval when your movies weren’t working. You had three consecutive duds. What modified?

I’ve simply stopped taking recommendation from folks. Earlier, throughout my studying curve, instantly after Vicky Donor, I’d take recommendation from lots of people, all following conventions. They had a primary rulebook. But I signed three unsuccessful movies they usually have been all typical. After that I made a decision to just do what I wished to do — it’s what I used to comply with throughout my theatre days. I simply went again to the fundamentals. Firstly, the topic ought to be the primary try in Hindi cinema. Secondly, it ought to maintain the viewers for 2 hours. Thirdly, it ought to have some form of worth creation by the tip — folks ought to take one thing again house.

Of late, once you’ve been taking pictures again to again, how do you then put together for a job?

It will depend on the movie. You don’t need to be hyper-ready for a job. Andhadhun wanted preparation, however Article 15 was empathy greater than preparation. It comes from statement, largely. I’ve been in contact with lots of IPS officers, they’re shut buddies of mine, my spouse’s grandfather was an IPS officer. Reading literature about Dalits and the underprivileged was my homework for Article 15. With Dream Girl, I’ve performed pranks on radio throughout my first job and that helped me. I’ve additionally spoken in a lady’s voice whereas calling my first girlfriend’s mother and father once I was 14. So, preparation can also be a sum of 1’s experiences and I’m lucky to have gotten such various experiences in life.

You’ve seen levels of success at completely different factors in your profession. Is the way you react to it completely different now?

I’ve seen lots between 2002 and now. I’ve learnt my classes since then, I feel. I’m a realist, very sensible like that and I’m by no means too comfortable or too unhappy about something. I’m at all times in between — I feel I now have a clever head on my shoulders. I obtained married early… I’m a younger guardian, in order that makes me extra balanced in a means.

But this sort of success that you’re experiencing proper now has obtained to be heady…

(Pauses for some time) It is definitely, I agree. But you may’t encompass your self with ‘yes men’. People round me are hypercritical, from my father to my spouse and even my supervisor. I bear in mind having a dance quantity in Bewakoofiyaan and she or he instructed me I can’t dance to avoid wasting my life. And simply to show her fallacious, I labored more durable in Dream Girl and requested for an additional day for rehearsals. I feel I did decently effectively in Radhe Radhe and Dhagala lagli, the movie’s dance tracks. So, now she says that is first rate — simply ‘decent’ is the phrase. She’ll by no means say she loves one thing… she’ll simply say she likes it.

You talked about your father and he was the one who at all times pushed you to showcase your expertise and do extra. How does he see all of this success that’s coming your means?

He turns into very emotional at occasions. When I obtained the National Award, he known as me and was nearly choking and went silent for 10 seconds. I instructed him I’d name him again in 5 minutes, take a break. So, I’m the sensible one, not emotional like him (smiles).

And he’s actually important of your work?

Oh completely! He at all times pinpoints errors and the way I may have executed a shot higher, which I feel is the right take. I don’t watch my movies with him as a result of if I sit with him, he’ll maintain giving me notes and phrases of knowledge. So I let him watch the movie and we discuss it later (laughs).

The final time we spoke, you mentioned your greatest worry is putting a steadiness between your private lives. Have you had any success with that since?

I strive, it’s nonetheless not simple. When I get again house, my youngsters (Virajveer and Varushka) are sleeping and once I rise up within the morning, they’re off to highschool. They’re seven and 5, so I’m lacking out on their youthful years they usually’re going away quick. I don’t need to do this, that’s why I simply must take a break after November. When I’m out of city, we do video calls on a regular basis, every single day. They come over for my shoots every so often and we’ve a yearly trip, that’s about it.

Do they’ve a way of what’s occurring in your life?

(Takes a pause) Kind of. They now know that their father is known they usually see strangers taking selfies with me. The elder one is basically pleased with me, the youthful one doesn’t know what is occurring.

How do they react once you get accosted by followers?

Earlier they might be intimated and would surprise why individuals are touching their father like that or why I’m taking selfies with strangers. Because we’ve taught them to not speak to strangers. They’re nonetheless figuring it out however on the identical time, we’re attempting to present them a traditional upbringing, the place they’re away from the arc lights. Thankfully, they’re not being papped but.

You’ve at all times had a Plan A and a Plan B, by way of stuff you wished to do. What is the long- time period plan?

I’d love to jot down, direct and produce sooner or later in my life. As of now although, I’m simply having enjoyable as a result of my profession’s peaking. Eventually I’ll, in fact write, direct and produce. I don’t know what sort of tales I’d need to inform. It could possibly be slice-of-life which is a style I’m most snug with. Things are altering so quick and what’s related proper now is likely to be irrelevant 5 years from now. Even once I got here to Mumbai to be an actor, I believed the best roles have been Shah Rukh’s Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa or Aamir’s Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. I by no means thought I’d turn out to be a sperm donor someday, so issues are at all times altering! (Laughs)