Ayushmann Khurranna is an inspiration for any actor who has just started out, says Nushrat Bharucha

Nushrat Bharucha is a survivor. From being a face in the crowd in a song to playing the lead, she’s come a long way albeit after a lot of struggle, rejection and depression. This has, perhaps made her more realistic in chasing her goals.

Tagged as a ‘Punchnama Girl’, Bharucha, after having spent 12 years in Bollywood, finally saw a ray of hope with the success of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (SKTKS) released last year and since then she has been on a roll. And as the actress gears up for her next releases — DreamGirl , a comedy and masala entertainer with Ayushmann Khurrana (in the titular role) to be followed by Hansal Mehta’s social comedy Turram Khan opposite her LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010) co-star Rajkummar Rao — she opens up on her struggles and audience acceptance, breaking an image, her equation with four time co-star Kartik Aryan and more.

 Ayushmann Khurranna is an inspiration for any actor who has just started out, says Nushrat Bharucha

Nushrat Bharucha and Ayushmann Khurranna in Dream Girl.

In DreamGirl, it’s the film’s hero Ayushmann Khurrana who is playing the titular role. Didn’t you want the focus on you?

The fact that I am not the ‘Dream Girl’ didn’t shock me. My reaction when I was offered the film was, ‘Oh very interesting! Tell me more; what else is there in the film?’ I don’t come from a space where the movie should be on me, or I play the titular role. Every story has a mudda (issue) and every actor should be able to identify that. But not every actor thinks like that.

How did DreamGirl happen to you?

Film’s director Raaj Shaandilyaa was very clear from the very beginning that he wanted me in his film. I felt very happy when I came to know that someone wants to work with me obviously because they have liked some work of mine. But otherwise everyone is making me a villain (in their films) (laughs). Raaj is the first director to give me the part of a positive heroine.

How crucial is your role in DreamGirl and how was it working with Ayushmann who is in top form today?

I feel Ayushmann’s baby steps is an inspiration for any actor who has just started out. The most crucial part about DreamGirl is the characters that make the confusion happen in this man’s (Ayushmann’s character) life. He is a man who speaks in a girl’s voice but if those five characters don’t fall into his trap then the story won’t move forward. When you do a film like this with such a strong ensemble cast and such great writing, everybody’s part becomes very crucial to the plot of the film.

After the success of SKTKS that crossed the Rs 100 crore mark at the box office, has the industry started taking you more seriously?

What was most rewarding for me was being accepted by the audience and then the industry has to accept you. Then, even if you don’t fit into that typical hero or heroine mould you will get cast because the audience has liked you and approved you. More than just the business of it, the audience wanted to see something different. They felt that maybe she isn’t the typical heroine material but we want to watch her be it in a song, or a scene, or it could be in a villain’s role, or a positive role. Hence, today I am in a better space. Now I have the option of being able to do more.

Are you fine with just doing a song in upcoming Marjaavaan?

I am more than happy because songs are another way of expression, acting, performance. Just like there are dialogues in films we have lyrics in songs. In fact, it is more difficult to express in songs because you have to do it along with music, tempo, beat, dance and adaa and expressions. But I enjoy that three times more than doing film performance. Songs for me will always be a yes-yes.

You and Kartik Aryan started out around the same time and have worked in four films together. What is the equation like?

Somebody has said that success doesn’t change you, success truly reveals who you are. I think he has always been this person. It is just that now lot more people are watching him and forming their opinion about him. I have known him for eight long years. We started together and both of us made it around the same time. The kind of time that I have spent with him nobody has done that. I know he is the same person. He is as funny, charming, mastikhor (mischievous). What has changed is a very practical change. We don’t spend the same kind of time together, nor do we move in the same friend circle.

You did four films with Kartik back-to-back though with some gaps. Weren’t you offered other films in between, or were you bound by the contract?

No, there was no contract and no contract can bind me. After the first instalment of Pyaar Ka Punchnama (PKP), I wasn’t offered anything interesting. Then I did Akaash Vani followed by PKP 2 which happened after two years. After Akaash Vani I didn’t get any offer because that film had flopped so I was sitting at home for two years out of which one year I was in severe depression. I had stopped stepping out of my house. I just didn’t want to know what was happening in the film world. I had also stopped watching movies. All that took a huge toll on me. PKP 2 did really well and post that I did few films but those flopped. Then SKTKS happened after three years and things started looking better.

You seemed to have struggled a lot..

Yes, I have gone from dancing in the background to coming on stage and having the spotlight on me. In Kal Kissne Dekha (2009) Riteish Deshmukh had done a special song and I was standing in the crowd and cheering him. Today I have danced along with him in DreamGirl. Therefore, I value everything and everybody in this industry.

There were rumours couple of months back about you joining Ajay Devgn and Ranbir Kapoor in Luv Ranjan’s next..

This industry runs on speculation which is okay because we need something to talk about. Right now I am doing only three films and rest all are mere rumours.

Luv Ranjan has been a mentor to you but he was called out in the #MeToo scandal. What do you have to say?

I have written an open letter on this entire matter with my thoughts, my stand, my choices and what were my experiences while working with him. It has lot of emotions and truth in it. You will get your answers from that.