‘I’m deeply inspired by the heroism of self-made, idealistic Indians’
Over the past three years, he has been riding the success bandwagon with back-to-back hits. And that has made Ayushmann Khurrana the blue-eyed star for not just film producers but advertisers as well. To put things in perspective: the actor has been roped in by 8-9 new brands during the ongoing pandemic when various sectors, across the board, have been financially hit.
For brand experts, what goes “overwhelmingly in Ayushmann’s favour – apart from consecutive successes – is a boy-next-door charm with his relatable, clutter-breaking and rooted brand of cinema, besides him being a rank outsider.”
Khurrana, on his part, feels what has worked for him is his decision to “swim against the tide” and “being totally myself.” “All along, I stayed true to who I’m in real life while I was at it. I personally felt that India was ready to see a different form of entertaining cinema, which was real, relatable and taboo-breaking because I was also ready to see that, and I also knew of many people who were having the same dialogue with me,” says the actor, who has signed brands such as JSW India, Nestle, Toyota, Bajaj Allianz, Sprite, Tide, Cipla, Peter England and Colgate, during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“Ayushmann’s biggest strength is the fact that he is a very likeable person, who has an appeal across age groups,” says Bollywood director and ad filmmaker R Balki, adding: “Plus, he is a very good actor, who has made some really intelligent, modern-day and different choices that have worked brilliantly with people, especially youngsters. And that kind of brand equity is an asset in brand world and otherwise.”
Khurrana, who is believed to have around 25 brands in his kitty, was a new entrant, in 2019, at rank 10 in the Duff & Phelps celeb brand valuation report with a brand value of $40.3 million. The Chandigarh boy says he “feels great” knowing “how much hard-work he had to put in to be where I’m today.”
He says: “It is hugely humbling to see people believe in me and have faith in the kind of content that I stand for. It’s gratifying to see people relate to my journey as most of India goes through the same drill while aspiring to find success. I’m one of them, I will always be one of them and bring out their stories and lives in the form of cinema because I’m deeply inspired by the heroism of the self-made, idealistic, inclusive people of India.”
For brands, what works vis-à-vis the Andhadhun actor is the “direct connect and trust factor” that he has built through his work. While Chandramohan Mehra, chief marketing officer of Bajaj Allianz Life feels Khurrana “embodies our brand ethos of trustworthiness, innovativeness, authenticity and responsibility”, Naveen Soni, senior vice president (sales and service), Toyota Kirloskar Motor says Khurrana is an “exemplar of a self-made actor, someone who is extremely versatile and respected by critics and audience alike. His story is an inspiration to many young people and resonates the spirit of the all-new Urban Cruiser.”
Ask the Article 15 actor about if he feels any pressure due to all of it, and he says with a smile: “I want this phase to continue for a long time as I definitely think that I’m going through the best phase of my career. My films are an extension of my personality, my beliefs and my vision for the country. I think people understand that I want to do my best for society, for my fellow citizens and I don’t want to fail them ever,” he concludes.
Going for the kill!
It has been eight years since Khurrana made his film debut, with Shoojit Sircar’s out-of-the-box, Vicky Donor. He followed it up with several unique, non-regular, clutter-breaking films. “I believed that India wanted to bring out and talk about societal issues openly. I’m fortunate that audiences loved my brand of cinema, engaged and participated with my beliefs. What people perceive my equity comes from me being unafraid about my choices as a human being. If I wasn’t the man who believed in the things that I have raised my voice for, people would have sensed a disconnect,” he says.
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