If you’re talented, you don’t need a godfather: Ayushmann Khurrana

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As recently as 2014, actor and poet Ayushmann Khurrana recalls receiving a call that would change his trajectory as a musician.

Singer Arijit Singh was struggling to make it to Dallas, Texas, where his band awaited him for a scheduled performance and had turned to Ayushmann Khurrana to play proxy. Without the support of his own band and sans any rehearsal, Khurrana turned up at Dallas to practice with Arijit Singh’s band for that evening’s gig.

“I saw a crowd of 50,000 members at that football stadium. It gave me goosebumps. That set of 10 songs rendered over 40 minutes was my first live set. It was the best experience of my life; one that triggered the idea of setting up my own band,” says the actor before hopping aboard a flight to San Diego, where he and the band will play a live gig.

Khurrana doesn’t mince words when acknowledging that it was an opportunity afforded to him by his career as an actor. It’s also the reason behind his decision to back those who cannot avail that ticket to fame. In association with Facebook, the actor recently announced his music endeavour, Jam Sessions, which aspires to rope in talent from social media for a music project. He isn’t sure what it is, just yet. For now, he’s sailing with the tide.

‘Music was basically at the forefront at home. My family was fond of every genre, including Sufi, classical, indie and retro. I was exposed to it all and that’s also how I consume music even today’

“There’s no dearth of talent on social media. With reality shows concentrating on singers, such musicians don’t get a platform. So, I wanted to create an opportunity that would help us do something together. In this era, you don’t need a godfather. If you’re talented, you will be appreciated.”

His fan base exposes him to a wide array of artistes. But, Khurrana knows that a band is built on camaraderie as much as it is on ability.

“I hope we gel together,” he says, adding that he’s yet to see where the aspirants’ skills take him. “Our project will depend on the talent. We will crack a certain genre, or perhaps try a fusion of sorts, if the talent is diverse. We’re edging towards creating something that’s semi-classical-meets-alternative-rock. It will be interesting.”

Although only partially trained in classical music, a look back at the wealth of experiences he has gained during his teenage years is almost a testimony of his prowess behind the mic. Growing up with a grandmother and father who devoured music, he was exposed to ghazal maestros at the age of five.

“Music was basically at the forefront at home. My family was fond of every genre, including Sufi, classical, indie and retro. I was exposed to it all, and that’s also how I consume music even today.” And although he was mesmerised by the freedom that a profession like acting afforded over music, the latter always lingered throughout his time in college.

“It was an intrinsic part of the theatre. I was also part of a choir and sang folk songs when doing street theatre. We’d add our own flavour to them, or even create our compositions. During college trips, I’d meet musicians from festivals and jam with them. I began discovering contemporary and desi music at the same time. When the theatre group sang in local trains, merely to entertain passengers, we realised how enamoured people were on seeing three guitarists, a percussionist and singers.”