INTERVIEW: 'I'm here to spread love': Aparshakti Khurana on new song Neendraan Ni Aandiyaan, fatherhood, fame and more
The actor tells why he pours his heart into everything he does.
Aparshakti Khurana’s name literally translates to someone bearing immense power, and the 35-year-old truly justifies it after having amassed the immense power of love from audiences for his acting, hosting, radio jockeying, musical videos and much more. From being a part of blockbusters like Dangal, Badri Ki Dulhaniya and Stree to featuring in hit musical videos Kudiye Ni, Hum Dono, Teri Yaari and Balle Ni Balle, some of which have raked in 75 million views, Aparshakti has made a cut straight to our hearts.
This time, the jovial actor has dropped his new romantic song video, Neendraan Ni Aandiyaan, which has garnered 10 million views and counting. Sung in the mellifluous voice of Aparshakti, who features as the lead opposite the uber-talented Nikita Dutta, the soothing rendition can calm anyone’s frayed nerves. It’s written and sung in memory of love after a relationship comes to an end, leaving the lead pair in pangs of separation. It is also the first song of Aparshakti shot at an international destination — in a surreal location of Turkey that evokes painterly dreams in the backdrop of the video with orange-tinged skies, lagoon blue seas and honeyed frames of love. With the addition of this song, Aparshakti’s performances — be it a meatier role or a cameo — usher happiness, warmth and spread a smile on our faces. His acts come from a place of deep earnestness met with a candid nonchalance on screen. After the new song, we dialled the actor on a Wednesday noon and felt his energy was infectious enough to enthuse any soul. In our light-hearted conversation, he tells us why he believes in the power of love, what makes him accept even smaller roles that come his way, being discern about fame and more. Excerpts:
Tell us what made you interested in Neendraan Ni Aandiyaan?
When I heard about the song, you won’t believe that I heard it on loop over 100 times that night (laughs)! Also, music director Arsh Grewal is a very talented soul, who along with the entire team showed faith in me for the project. I am grateful for their trust. I and Nikita were given the brief that the characters we play don’t stay in this international location, rather, they have come to visit this place. It is still at the end, the journey of a middle-class couple who may be out on a vacation. Another brief was, you are a couple from the same city and you have broken up, but then you run into each other on this trip. The last brief was that after the breakup, my character has gone on a solo trip to this location to get rid of the memories of the past relationship, but wherever he goes, he sees his love. The voiceover manifests the thought that the guy cannot stay away from his love and bear the pang of separation.
You’ve mostly been featured in romance videos. Is it a conscious choice?
I am an emotional person. I love my friends, family, and work and have a deep connection with love. Sometimes when people haven’t seen your body of work and they ask you ‘what do you do to make a living?’, I say ‘Hum mohabbat karte hain’(smiles) and I mean it. People who have worked with me will second this thought. I feel music is close to my heart. I do it purely out of love and didn’t pick it up to make money. Perhaps, that’s why the audience appreciates it. I feel god surely bestows blessings on us when we do things out of love.
You have dabbled in various fields like RJing, hosting, acting and music videos. How are they different from one another, and what do you enjoy the most?
Acting is very different from hosting. In hosting, you have to look right in the middle of the lens of camera and talk to it; whereas when acting, you should not know that there is a camera around you. These are two very different mediums and are difficult to juggle. Coming to music and films, the biggest plus point of music is that it really calms your senses down. Bahut hi kam gane hote hein, jo aapko pareshan karte hain (laughs). However, in acting, there can be characters that may trouble you from within. At that time, it’s difficult to zone out of the characters with ease and come home without carrying their baggage. Thankfully, in the past seven years, I have never come home carrying the baggage of any role, and my family can vouch for that. I can say music is my comfort zone. It renders a poetic catharsis and satisfies me from within. It makes everyone’s journey more soulful and given these days people are dealing with a lot of anxiety issues, music calms them down. So I resonate with it organically.
Given you’ve dabbled in many professions that demand facing the audience and camera, have you ever faced stage fright?
I was never somebody who was inhibited. I have always been a straightforward and confident person who is mostly in control of his senses. So stage fear is not something that bothers me. Having said that, if I was asked whether I was always made for the camera or the stage, I would say no. I think I had taken a very different journey from school to college. I was trying to become a sports person, but ended up being in four to five professions before I entered acting. Each of my endeavour, be it theatre, radio or law days or being a costume stylist gave me diverse exposure. When I embarked on acting, I felt finally, there is a profession which is tailor-made in such a beautiful way that all my experience could be put to use in the best possible way. Entering acting, I felt I had already lived all those aspects that require you to get into the groove of cinema. That made the journey very natural and satisfying. So these situations in my life prepared me to act better in front of a camera or face an audience.
What advice do you have for upcoming actors?
I would say until you crack your big film or a role which puts you on the map, work side by side. Take up anything that matches your interest or educational background. Firstly, it will help you take care of the expenses; and secondly, a working brain is always better than a non-working brain. Lastly, I believe while hunger for a role is a good thing to have, it shouldn’t make a person desperate for it which often gets reflected in auditions as the camera catches everything. Having a side job will make one less frantic and desperate for the role. In a way, it will enhance their performance in auditions.
How do you think audience preferences have changed over the years?
As an actor of today’s day and age, I believe the audience has become very intelligent. This is why we have a paradigm shift in the way we make films. Today’s audience wants a wide variety of films — from the comedy-thriller Andhadhun, musical dramas like Gully Boy and sports flicks like Dangal to horror-comedies like Stree. So until you give it back to them, they won’t treat you with warmth and reject you on the screen. While the intelligence factor is laudable, I feel what people sometimes say on social media gets a little out of control. For instance, the trolling culture on social media does impact artists’ mental health and career trajectory. I have read stuff about people in my industry which is absolutely obnoxious especially for women in this field. I hope it could be kept in check. It leaves performers vulnerable at times. Thankfully, I've never been trolled and am gracious for all the love I’ve received from people. I wish the same for others.
You became a father last year. What did you discover about yourself in parenthood?
People have always told me I am an impatient soul. I have discovered that in my parenthood, I have become a lot more patient (laughs). People told me you are an activity-driven person, but now that I am a father, I have become a homebody. For instance, earlier when my shoot was done by nine at night, I would call my wife and we used to go out often, for a movie, dinner or a long drive and would go back home by 2 in the morning. But from the day I became a father, I don’t remember the last time I had made such late-night plans. I go back home as early as possible to be with my daughter, Arzoie. Even if she is just sleeping by my side, I feel such warmth, satisfaction and complete happiness. I feel so content that I feel ‘okay this is what I need in life and I am blessed to have it’.
Neendraan Ni Aandiyaan is playing on You-Tube.