Ayushmann Khurrana (born Nishant Khurrana on 14 September 1984) is an Indian actor, singer, and television host. Known for his portrayals of ordinary men, he is the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award and four Filmfare Awards, and has appeared in Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list of 2013 and 2019.
Khurrana won the second season of reality television show MTV Roadies in 2004 and ventured into an anchoring career. He made his film debut in 2012 with the romantic comedy Vicky Donor, in which his performance as a sperm donor earned him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. Following a brief setback, he starred in the commercially and critically successful romance Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). Khurrana went on to establish himself with the comedies Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017), Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), Badhaai Ho (2018), Dream Girl (2019), and Bala (2019); the thriller Andhadhun (2018); and the crime drama Article 15 (2019). Khurrana’s performances as a blind pianist in Andhadhun and an honest cop in Article 15 won him two consecutive Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor, and he also won the National Film Award for Best Actor for the former.
In addition to acting, Khurrana has sung for several of his films, including the song “Pani Da Rang”, which earned him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer.
Early life and education
Khurrana was born on 14 September 1984 in Chandigarh to Poonam and P. Khurrana as Nishant Khurrana, later his parents changed his name to Ayushmann Khurrana when he was 3 years old. He was a part of Guru Nanak Khalsa College. He studied at St. John’s High School, Chandigarh and DAV College, Chandigarh. He majored in English literature and has a master’s degree in Mass Communication from the School of Communication Studies, Punjab University. He did serious theatre for five years. He was also the founding member of DAV College’s “Aaghaaz” and “Manchtantra”, which are active theatre groups in Chandigarh. He conceived and acted in street plays and won prizes in national college festivals such as Mood Indigo (IIT Bombay), OASIS (Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani) and St. Bedes Shimla. He also won a Best Actor award for playing Ashwatthama in Dharamvir Bharati’s Andha Yug.
2004–2011: Television shows and early career
Ayushmann Khurrana was noticed on TV at the age of 17. It was the reality show on Channel V; PopStars in 2002. He was one of the youngest contestants on the show. Roadies 5 took place in 2004 whereby he turned out to be the winner in Roadies 3 at the age of 20. After completing his graduation and post-graduation in Journalism, his first job was as an RJ at BIG FM, Delhi. He hosted the show Big Chai – Maan Na Maan, Main Tera Ayushmann and also won the Young Achievers Award in 2007 for it. He was the youngest recipient of the Bharat Nirman Award in New Delhi.
He also worked in many other MTV shows such as MTV Fully Faltoo Movies, Cheque De India and Jaadoo Ek Baar. He then turned television host with a multiple-talent based reality show India’s Got Talent on Colors TV which he co-anchored with Nikhil Chinapa and Stripped which gave latest updates on the Indian TV industry with a comic tinge, again on MTV. At the end of the year, he was also the anchor of the singing reality show Music Ka Maha Muqqabla on STAR Plus
Apart from hosting the second season of MTV Rock On and India’s Got Talent on Colors, Khurrana was also a part of the anchoring team of Extra Innings T20 for Indian Premier League Season 3 on SET Max with Gaurav Kapur, Samir Kochhar , and Angad Bedi. Following which he took up the offer of anchoring the dance-based reality show Just Dance on STAR Plus.
2012–2015: Film debut and career struggles
Khurrana at an event for Vicky Donor (2012), his film debut
Khurrana made his acting debut in 2012 with Shoojit Sircar’s romantic comedy Vicky Donor, co-starring Annu Kapoor and Yami Gautam. It marked the production debut of actor John Abraham, and starred Khurrana in the titular role of a sperm donor. In preparation, he attended acting workshops and interacted with medical professionals. For the film’s soundtrack, he sang “Pani Da Rang”, which he had written and composed with Rochak Kohli back in 2003. Praising the film’s ensemble cast, Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com wrote that Khurrana’s “candid disposition and roguish face ensures his street smart drollery works like a breeze”. With worldwide earnings of over ₹610 million (US$8.6 million) against a budget of ₹100 million (US$1.4 million), Vicky Donor emerged as a commercial success.[ At the Filmfare Awards ceremony, Khurrana was awarded trophies for Best Male Debut and Best Male Playback Singer.
In 2013, Khurrana appeared in Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list, ranking 70th with an estimated annual income of ₹25.8 million (US$360,000). He then collaborated with Kunaal Roy Kapur in Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala! (2013), a comedy based on the French film Après Vous (2005). Anupama Chopra found Khurrana to be “earnest” in it but felt that his comedic work was overshadowed by that of Roy Kapur. He also recorded two songs for the film’s soundtrack. A year later, Khurrana teamed with Yash Raj Films (as part of a three-film deal) in the romantic comedy Bewakoofiyaan (2014), co-starring Sonam Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor, about a young man who has trouble convincing his girlfriend’s father to approve of their marriage. Writing for The New York Times, Andy Webster disliked the film’s “strained, contrived humor” but commended Khurrana for “holding his own opposite [Rishi] Kapoor. Both Nautanki Saala and Bewakoofiyaan were commercially unsuccessful, as was his next release, Hawaizaada (2015). In it, he played the scientist Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, for which he lost weight and learnt to speak Marathi. In the same year, Khurrana collaborated with his wife, Tahira Kashyap, to write his autobiography Cracking the Code: My Journey to Bollywood.
Khurrana’s career prospects improved when he starred opposite newcomer Bhumi Pednekar in the Sharat Katariya directed-romance Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). It tells the story of an underachieving man who is married against his will to an overweight woman. Anuj Kumar of The Hindu praised him for effectively capturing his character’s “diction and body language”.Despite minimal promotions, the film emerged as a commercial success, grossing over ₹410 million (US$5.7 million) worldwide against its ₹140 million (US$2.0 million) budget.
Two years later, after starring in the poorly received Meri Pyaari Bindu, Khurrana’s career progressed with his two other films releases of 2017, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, both of which were commercially successful. In the former, adapted from Nicolas Barreau’s French novel The Ingredients of Love, he played alongside Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon as a writer involved in a love triangle. Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV wrote that Khurrana does a “convincing job of mutating from a brooding jilted lover to a crooked manipulator who puts his own interests above everyone else’s”.In Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, he starred opposite Bhumi Pednekar as a newly engaged man suffering from erectile dysfunction. A remake of the Tamil film Kalyana Samayal Saadham (2013), Khurrana hoped that the film’s humorous take on mental and sexual problems faced by men would bring wider attention to the topic. Rajeev Masand took note of how well the film handled sexuality without being crude and commended him for “investing the fellow with genuine likeability and an understated charm”. Khurrana received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for the latter film.
Khurrana accepting the 2019 National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in Andhadhun
In 2018, Khurrana starred in two of the top-grossing Hindi films of the year. His first role was in Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, a thriller co-starring Tabu and Radhika Apte, in which he played a blind pianist who unwillingly becomes embroiled in a murder. He lobbied for the part after hearing about it from the casting director Mukesh Chhabra and in preparation, he learnt how to play the piano and interacted with blind piano players. Udita Jhunjhunwala of Mint praised Khurrana for giving a “taut performance that balances vulnerability with craftiness” and Ankur Pathak of HuffPost found his to be “a layered, no-holds-barred performance worth applauding”. Andhadhun earned ₹4.56 billion (US$64 million) worldwide, a majority of which came from the Chinese box office, to become Khurrana’s highest-grossing release and one of Indian cinema’s biggest grossers. He next starred in Badhaai Ho, a comedy from director Amit Sharma about a young man whose middle-aged parents get pregnant. Anna M. M. Vetticad of Firstpost considered his performance to be “completely convincing” and commended him for choosing “to work in small films where the star is the story”.A sleeper hit, it earned over ₹2.21 billion (US$31 million) worldwide. For Andhadhun, Khurrana won the National Film Award for Best Actor (shared with Vicky Kaushal for Uri: The Surgical Strike) and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
The series of successful films continued with Khurrana’s 2019 releases, Article 15, Dream Girl, and Bala. In the formermost, a crime thriller directed by Anubhav Sinha, he played the starring role of a righteous police officer solving a rape case. Highlighting caste discrimination in India, the film was inspired by multiple events, including the 2014 Badaun gang rape allegations and the 2016 Una flogging incident. Khurrana agreed to the project to play a dark and intense character for the first time in his film career. Writing for The Guardian, Wendy Ide commended him for “combin[ing] soulful Bollywood heartthrob charisma with an arrestingly intense performance.” In the comedy Dream Girl, he starred as a cross-gender actor who speaks in a female voice while working at a call centre which unwittingly attracts male attention. Nandini Ramnath of Scroll.in considered his “manic energy and believable Everyman persona” to be the film’s highlight. His next release, Bala, was also a comedy, in which he played a young man who faces societal pressure due to premature balding. He found it physically challenging to play the part due to the heavy layers of prosthetics used on his head. Rajeev Masand opined that Khurrana “cuts a sympathetic figure as another not-instantly-likeable loser” and added that he had “cornered the market when it comes to playing flawed, insecure men with confidence issues”.He won another Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for Article 15 and received a Best Actor nomination at the ceremony for Bala. That year, he reappeared on Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list, ranking 37th with an estimated annual income of ₹305 million (US$4.3 million).
For his next project, Khurrana actively looked for another mainstream film that would portray sexuality in a humorous manner. He found it in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (2020), in which he played a gay man who has trouble convincing his partner’s family of their relationship. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express credited Khurrana for “allowing the film to be so much about” his lesser known co-star Jitendra Kumar. It underperformed commercially. Khurrana will next reunite with Shoojit Sircar for the comedy-drama Gulabo Sitabo, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film will not be released theatrically and will be streamed on Prime Video.
Khurrana was born in Chandigarh. His father P Khurrana is an astrologer and an author on the subject of astrology, whereas his mother Poonam is a housewife and she is of half-Burmese descent and a qualified M.A. in Hindi While Ayushmann remains busy with his work in Mumbai, his family still stays in Chandigarh. His brother Aparshakti Khurana is a radio jockey at Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM in Delhi and made his debut in the 2016 Aamir Khan-starrer film Dangal. The ambiance of literature at home influenced Khurrana as well and he took writing as a hobby. He also maintains a blog where he writes in Hindi and it has been received very well by his admirers. Ayushmann is known for being very close to his family and wife, Tahira Kashyap who has directed a critically acclaimed film Toffee. They are childhood sweethearts and are parents of a son and a daughter. His son, Virajveer, was born on 2 January 2012 and his daughter, Varushka, was born on 21 April 2014. In 2018, when he was promoting Badhaai Ho and Andhadhun, his wife Tahira was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer. Tahira’s positive outlook helped them remain rock solid through this difficult phase.