Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15 promised to take Ayushmann Khurrana’s career to another level even before release. He played a cop determined to bring justice to the socio-economically challenged in an oppressed village of Uttar Pradesh. With upper caste communities up in arms against the film, it did wonders to Ayushmann’s gloriously ignited career. But here are the ones that made a difference prior to that.
VICKY DONOR (2012): Playing a sperm donor in his debut film Ayushmann proved at the outset how brave he can be in his choices as an actor. No Indian actor had ever dabbled in the “s” word before. Ayushmann proved fertility was not just a state of the mind but also a condition of the loin. Yup, this ‘loin’ was going to roar so hard it’d be hard to ignore.
HAWAIZAADA (2015): Not many people saw this beautifully mounted film recreating the life of Shivkar Baupiji Talpade the man who built the first unmanned plane in India. A handsomely mounted period film with the colours and vibrancy of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali epic, directed by Viibhu Puri, this film was again an early indication of how different the course of Khurrana’s career was going to be.
DUM LAGAA KE HAISHA (2015): The minute Ayushmann picked up the oversized Bhumi Pednekar on his shoulder and ran for his dear wife, we knew he was a lambi race ka ghoda. In this Sharat Kataria film, Khurrana was the reluctant working class husband in Haridwar who learns to respect and love his wife. We learnt to love films about small town heroes from Ayushmann.
SHUBH MANGAL SAVDHAAN (2017): From over-fertile to sexually dysfunctional Ayushmann is a hero who likes to show the vulnerable side of screen heroism. In this film he played a man who, well, couldn’t rise to the occasion. Did Ayushmaan flinch? No! But we cringe each time we see a packet of glucose biscuits. Soggy was never the same again.
ANDHADHUN (2018): The biggest hit of Khurrana’s career so far, in Sriram Raghavan’s exquisitely conceptualised whodunnit the actor played a pianist who plays blind. Till the end we are not sure if Khurrana is just faking it. Ambivalent heroism came into vogue with Ayushmann Khurrana. So did human frailty. Ayushmann says it’s okay to be weak. Someone has got to be the other side of strong.
BADHAAI HO (2018): Another working class blockbuster. This one featured Ayushmann as the eldest son of a family coping with the embarrassment of a pregnant mother at an age when she’s supposed to attend bhajan mandalis. Ayushmann portrayed the character’s journey from mortification to pride in pitch-perfect harmony.
ARTICLE 15 (2019): Playing a cop who is both heroic and vulnerable, committed and confused, violent yet sensitive, righteous yet flawed, is not easy. Ayushmann Khurran nails it in this masterly study of caste oppression set against the backdrop of socio-economic backwardness thar fosters inequality. Khurrana’s cop-hero won’t tolerate looming injustice. He is the kind of believable hero the Indian middle class needs. He is every man and yet like no man we’ve seen on screen.
DREAM GIRL (2019): Ayushmann plays Karam aka Pooja, a phone pleasuring service, a 'call' girl if you sleaze... sorry, please. His expressions of self-joy as he speaks in a girl's voice with expressions to match , with various lusting admirers, is the stuff Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie and Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire would approve of. Lage raho, Ayushmann. There's lots more where that is coming from.
SHUBH MANGAL ZYAADA SAVDHAAN: Gay and happy. Why do films about homosexuality have to be so so sad ? Not this one. We need more actors like Ayushmann Khurrana to play characters who are flawed, frail and never afraid to fall or fail. As the nose-ringed precocious and cocky Kartik, Ayushmann hits all the right notes, punches all the nosy noses and trots away into the sunset with the love of his life as though by birthright.
Image Source: youtube/erosnowmoviespreview/relianceentertainment/yrf/todez/jungleepictures/zeemusiccompany/balajimotionpictures/t-series, spotboye archives