Ayushmann Khurrana has a two-film contract with John Abraham in his kitty and Yami Gautam is becoming a regular face on TV shows and commercials; Pic by Gajanan Dudhalkar
Location courtesy: The Westin Mumbai Garden City
Ayushmann Khurrana is a busy man these days. The success of his debut film, Vicky Donor, has turned the 27-year-old into an overnight star. Time is now at a premium and he barely has time to catch up with family and friends. “I am not a star. Or rather ‘was’ not a star. The feeling has yet to sink in. Right now, I’m enjoying the best phase of my life,” he says beaming.
Vicky Donor — which was made on a tight Rs 5 crore budget and which has raked in over Rs 30 crore — made shooting stars of Khurrana and his love interest in the film, Yami Gautam. And they are still learning to cope with their sudden success.
Says Khurrana with a grin: “I’m constantly hearing narrations and reading scripts and I’ve hired John Abraham’s manager to handle my affairs.”
For Yami, it’s been a roller-coaster ride too. She has capitalised on her sudden fame by appearing on several TV shows and she’s in talks for several movie projects. “It’s overwhelming,” she says. Her new fame is also being reflected in social media. She now has over 80,000 followers on various social networking sites and about 60 pages dedicated to her on Facebook.
These are exciting times for newcomers like Khurrana and Gautam. The dynamics of Bollywood are changing. And newer avenues of distribution — like overseas markets — and the multiplex culture (even in smaller towns) is giving a shot in the arm to small and medium budget films.
With their smart content, snazzy packaging and cast of newcomers these films are playing a different game. Since the newcomers sign up for low fees, the budgets are kept low and producers make money even if the film does average business. The films are also completed in double quick time, as the newcomers don’t have hassles about shooting dates. The newcomers for their part get their much-awaited break in films.
Says Divyendu Sharma who tasted success with his first film, Pyaar Ka Punchnama (PKP): “The industry’s buzzing with a slew of new directors. So, producers are taking their chances and investing in fresh actors,” he says. The underlying belief is that a good script and good talent can make a movie work at the box office. Film analyst Taran Adarsh adds: “Every other big actor is turning into a producer. Besides, they are not acting in more than two movies at a time. So, the alternative is newcomers. If the film works then all’s well, if not, the producers move on.”
What’s more, says Komal Nahta, film analyst and editor of Film Information, the top actors are growing old while film-makers have so many more stories to tell.
|Pulkit Samrat won over
audiences and critics alike with his
a wedding videographer in Bitto Boss
Take a look at Ishaqzaade, a Yash Raj Films (YRF) offering. Shot in just 90 days and made on a medium budget of Rs 25 crore, the film failed to conjure box office magic but it has given the industry two raring-to-go actors — Parineeti Chopra, who first came into the spotlight because of her famous cousin Priyanka Chopra, and Arjun Kapoor, son of producer Boney Kapoor. “This is the best time for newcomers. Actors can now take risks with the roles they do,’’ says Parineeti, who plays the gun-toting Zoya Qureshi in Ishaqzaade.
So, not surprising that Kumar Mangat, CEO of Wideframe Productions and producer of movies like PKP, the surprise hit that had five newcomers, and the recent Bittoo Boss, believes in putting his money on newcomers.
“The audiences want something new. If PKP required fresh faces or the story demands youngsters, I cannot cast Salman Khan or Aishwarya Rai,” says Mangat, who’s working on two new projects with the newcomers in lead roles.
Nahta says that the overseas market that offers the films a wider avenue was not receptive to newcomers earlier but the scenario has changed. “And since films recover most of their money overseas, the producers feel that new actors are a safe bet,” says Nahata.
The result, obviously, is that newcomers are getting golden opportunities to star in low-budget movies.
Take a look at Karthik Tiwari and Nushrat Bharucha who tasted success with PKP last year. At the time they couldn’t have dreamt that they would be doing a sequel so soon. Made for Rs 5.23 crore, the film opened to rave reviews and quickly made profits. PKP, in which the two played a live-in couple, featured five newcomers and revolved around three young male room-mates whose lives change when they fall in love.
Karthik and Nushrat are delighted that the producers are planning to begin work on the sequel, Pyaar Ka Punchnama Reloaded. They’re also all set to sizzle on the screen again in their next, movie, tentatively titled Aakashwani. Produced by Viacom 18 and Wideframe Productions, the film is scheduled to release next month.
It was no cakewalk for Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor, who went through two months of tiring auditions before they bagged roles in Ishaqzaade
PKP was also the perfect launchpad for Divyendu Sharma, who played the character Liquid. A Film and Television Institute of India alumnus, he not only bagged the award for Best Male Debut but also won the Best Debut In A Comic Role award for PKP. Now, he is ready with his upcoming film, David Dhawan’s Chashme Buddoor Remake, a remake of the 1981 cult comedy, slated to release on 27 July. Divyendu plays a poet, enacted by Rakesh Bedi in the original. Divyendu also has projects like Rave and Pyaar ka Punchnama Reloaded coming up.
Chashme Buddoor also features Taapsee Pannu as the female lead. Originally from Delhi and a 2008 Miss India finalist, Taapsee started her career two years ago with the Tamil film Aadukalam, which won six awards at the 58th National Film Awards. And now, she’s all set to make her debut in Hindi movies. “Puri Jagannath, the director of Buddha Hoga Tera Baap, offered me the lead role in his movie, but I couldn’t do it due to date problems. Later, he recommended my name to David Dhawan,” she says.
Ishaqzaade is not Parineeti’s first outing as an actress as she has the rather forgettable Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011) behind her. The bit role and the fact that the film bombed at the box office weren’t deterrents for the feisty actor. “I shot for Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl in under 30 days. Ishaqzaade was a completely different ballgame,” says Parineeti.
Karthik Tiwari and Nushrat Bharucha will also star in the sequel to their hit Pyaar Ka Punchnama
From working in the marketing department of YRF to playing the lead role in a movie produced under the same banner, Parineeti is leading the life she had only thought about in her dreams. “Until 14 months ago, I was a nobody. Today, I’m two films old,” she gushes.
Meanwhile, the Bhatts — Mahesh and Mukesh — are continuing to give a platform to new talent. They are on their way to recreating the magic of their 1990 musical love story, Aashiqui, which was directed by Mahesh Bhatt. The hunt for new faces for Aashiqui 2 is on and the Bhatts have unleashed an online campaign to find the stars for the sequel to the Rahul Roy-Anu Agarwal starrer.
Not that easy
But bagging meaty roles hasn’t always been a cakewalk.
It took seven long years before Pulkit Samrat, the lead actor of Bittoo Boss, landed a good role in this small budget film. Made for a mere Rs 5.24 crore, Bittoo Boss didn’t do well. But Pulkit, who plays a wedding videographer in the film, earned good reviews for his performance.
Getting a break was an uphill task for Karthik too, who played Rajat in Pyaar Ka Panchnama. He was studying engineering in Mumbai last year when he saw a Facebook message about auditions for PKP. “The auditions stretched for four months and I couldn’t appear for my engineering exams. I was frustrated and had no money,” he recalls.
Khurrana though had it a bit easier. After winning MTV Roadies in 2004, he’d been regularly anchoring TV shows, which by his own admission helped him build a rapport with the Who’s Who of Bollywood. That’s probably why he wasn’t asked to audition for Vicky Donor. “Shoojit sir (director Shoojit Sircar) was looking for somebody with a youth connect. Since I had been associated with a youth channel — and because I’m a true-blue Punjabi — he thought I would fit the bill for Vicky Donor.”
Khurrana has reason to be upbeat as he has bagged another lead role in Hamara Baja , a John Abraham production. A story of a small-time, struggling actor, Sanjay Bajaj, the shooting will begin this December. “I have a two-film contract with John, the producer of both my movies, which will be directed by Shoojit sir,” beams Khurrana.
His Vicky Donor co-star, Chandigarh girl Yami Gautam, better known for her famous fairness cream TV commercial, had a few roles in TV soaps behind her before Vicky Donor happened, which made her entry into Bollywood easy.
Shoojit Sircar, director, says: “My first film was canned three years ago and I was starting afresh with Vicky Donor. Back then, no established actor would have worked with me then since I was new myself. I thought if I was starting all over again, I might as well give newcomers a chance to prove their worth.”
Parineeti and Arjun too went through two months of tiring auditions before they were selected for the roles. Parineeti is now hopeful of working on her next project. “At the moment, I am reading some interesting scripts,” she says.
Pulkit, who is also busy reading scripts, says: “If you are good at your work, the right opportunity will come your way.” And that seems to be the mantra of the new faces of Bollywood.