Right from his first film, Ayushmann Khurrana has displayed a knack for choosing off-beat scripts with risqu' topics which strike gold at the box office. He has chosen to play a series of lead roles in which the hero is not the larger-than-life macho man but instead the ordinary workaday man...
Vicky Donor (2012)
This fertility rom-com about a failing sperm bank owner's efforts to sign up a good-looking Punjabi boy as his star donor marked Ayushmann Khurrana’s acting debut. Directed by Shoojit Sircar and produced by John Abraham, ‘Vicky Donor’ opened to critical acclaim and did good business at the box office. Inspired by the Canadian movie ‘Starbuck’, the script managed to raise sensitive issues that are considered taboo such as sperm donation and infertility without being pedantic or preaching to the audience. The film was a light-hearted look at the various taboos attached to infertility and artificial insemination. Before filming began, Sircar reportedly researched the plot themes for three years. Sircar said he chose Khurrana, then an unknown radio jockey and television host, for the role of Vicky because he was popular among the youth and he could read and write Punjabi. Khurrana turned down three film projects to play the lead in ‘Vicky Donor’. To prepare for the role, he met medical experts and donors to understand sperm donation. To ensure authenticity, a major medical consultant specialising in the field was also added to the film crew as a medical adviser. Additionally, Khurrana studied acting and attended workshops with theatre veteran NK Sharma in Delhi. Made on a meagre budget of Rs 5 crore, the film went on to collect a massive Rs 65 crore. The movie later went on to win the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)
After a series of flops, Khurrana made a comeback with this 2015 romantic comedy written and directed by Sharat Katariya and co-starring Bhumi Pednekar. Pednekar played the role of an overweight housewife which required the actress to gain 30 kg to land the role.
As far as plotlines go DLKH was pretty thin: Prem, a school dropout, hesitantly marries an educated but overweight girl, Sandhya. However, the couple come closer when they take part in a race, which involves Prem carrying Sandhya on his back. But the script more than made up for this with brilliant dialogues and picturesque locations as the story was set in Haridwar and Rishikesh. In fact, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ was the first Bollywood film to be entirely shot in the twin temple towns. When asked why he had chosen to do the film Khurrana said, “I read the script right after ‘Vicky Donor’ (2012) and it was like déjà vu: I got the same feeling that I got after reading the script for ‘Vicky Donor’. It’s simple. It is not only unlike the other films that are out there right now, it is also unlike your typical YRF film. It is very earthy and comes straight from the heart.
‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ did well at the box office taking home a gross total of ?30.26 crore. It also won the National Award for best feature film.
Badhai Ho (2018)
What happens when a couple in their 50s, with a grown up son planning his own wedding, end up having an unplanned pregnancy? That is the quirky, unusual story of ‘Badhaai Ho'. Nakul Kaushik (Ayushmann Khurrana) cannot come to terms with the fact that his parents, father Jeetender (Gajraj Rao) and mother Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) are going to have a third child. Nakul has an adolescent younger brother Gullar (Shardul Rana). The film centres around the middle-class Kaushik family who live in Delhi’s Lodhi Colony. The setup is pitch perfect complete with 'Mata Ka Jagrata' songs, housewives playing housie/bingo, uncles dancing to 90s Bollywood songs at weddings, nosy neighbours and more. Made on a modest budget of Rs 29 crore ‘Badhaai Ho’ has raked in Rs 163.97 crore gross in India, Rs 45.02 crore gross overseas which adds up to Rs 208.99 crore worldwide and counting. Speaking on why he chose to greenlight this film Khurrana said, “It wasn’t just that one quirky line ‘What to expect when your mother is expecting’ but the whole script won me over. Everyone is a hero in the film from Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta to everyone. It’s such a balanced film which focuses on everyone.”
Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017)
An Indian adaptation of Nicolas Barreau’s book ‘The Ingredients of Love’ and directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ was a box office success and received positive reviews from the critics for its direction, acting and music. It was praised for managing to capture the flavour of small-town India and for its lead performances, in particular that of Rajkummar Rao. On the film Khurrana said, “I feel this film has all the quirks of a typical Hrishikesh Mukherjee film or is from the Sai Paranjape’s school of cinema. It’s a very Woody Allen kind of film in a way. So I think it’s very quirky, very different.”
Shubh Mangal Savdhan (2017)
While nobody exactly uses the words 'erectile dysfunction', or 'impotence', in ‘Shubh Mangal Savdhan’, it is clear to the audience that the film's male protagonist isn't really up to the challenge. Based on the 2013 Tamil original ‘Kalyana Samayal Saadham’, the hero Mudit, played by Khurrana, must confess his problem to his love Sugandha (Bhumi Pednekar) in this unusual romantic comedy. This comedy of middle-class-Dilli-manners turned out to be one of 2017’s most enjoyable films and a commercial success at the box office.
Extensively shot in Delhi, Rishikesh and Haridwar, the film beautifully captured the spirit of the holy cities with real locations blending in perfectly with the narrative, almost becoming, in a sense, central to the story. On the film Khurrana said, “Life has come full circle. I also believe that it's so ironical that in my first film, I was a sperm donor and this is diagonally opposite – a man suffering from erectile dysfunction. But that’s the fun part of it, I feel I am apt for this. This is the perfect casting – it's radical, it's off-centre and at the same time it’s opposite so, it's funny.”
A series of mysterious events take place in the life of a blind pianist (Ayushmann Khurrana) and now he must report a crime that he never actually witnessed. A black comedy and crime thriller, ‘Andhadhun’ was co-written and directed by Sriram Raghavan and also stars Tabu and Radhika Apte. The script tells the story of a piano player who unwittingly becomes embroiled in the murder of a former film actor. Hemanth Rao, a friend of Raghavan, suggested that he watch the 2010 French short film ‘L'Accordeur’ (The Piano Tuner) that revolved around a blind pianist. Raghavan liked the short and decided to work on a script based on it. Khurrana was cast in the lead role after he messaged Raghavan and expressed his interest in working with him. The film was shot in 44 days for over a year in Pune with principal photography shot between in June 2017 and July, 2018. ‘Andhadhun’ released on October 5 to widespread critical acclaim. Made on a production budget of ?32 crore, it made Rs 92.01 crore gross in the domestic market and in the overseas market it earned Rs 10.37 crore gross, taking the worldwide total to Rs 102.38 crore and counting.