Bollywood star Ayushmann Khurrana reveals what music means to him, ahead of Dubai concert

The actor and singer will be performing at the Coca-Cola Arena as part of Eid in Dubai celebrations

by Enid Grace Parker

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Published: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 11:06 AM

Last updated: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 10:25 PM

Does your life have a soundtrack? For as long as I can remember, my favourite songs have been plugged into my ears, be it via a Walkman, an MP3 player or, now, a phone. The live concerts I’ve been fortunate enough to attend have always rendered a unique thrill. So when you’re the kind of person who in a way lives and breathes music, you know just where Bollywood star Ayushmann Khurrana is coming from when he declares, “Acting is my passion, but I just can’t live without music.”

The 38-year-old artist, who has built up a huge fan base through quirky and experimental films (Vicky Donor, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui) as as well as engaging songs (Mitti Di Khushboo, Ik Vaari) over the past decade, is currently preparing for a live gig at Coca-Cola Arena on April 23, as part of Eid in Dubai celebrations.

In a recent Zoom interaction with City Times, Ayushmann explained why his upcoming concert organized by Speed Entertainment, which will be his fourth performance in the city, was a thrilling prospect.

“This city is really special; I remember my first performance in Dubai - it was very, very cool. Dubai is a great cultural melting pot and you get love from all the people of the subcontinent. It’s great to be there because the city is always buzzing, and the Coca-Cola Arena is as big as it gets. I’m really excited!”

He called the local audience “lively, young and vibrant.”

Live concerts have always been close to Ayushmann’s heart and the latest one is no exception. Fans attending the two-hour Coca-Cola Arena gig are in for a special treat as they will get to hear his new single for the first time.

“Normally I’m busy with films…2-3 films a year… I hardly get time to cut singles. I’ll be dropping a single after four years, so I’m really excited!”

The set list promises to be quite eclectic: expect familiar and popular tracks from the artist as well as retro vibes through "rock twists" given to certain classics.

We asked Ayushmann (who will take to the stage in Dubai with his band), what kind of preparation went into putting up a show like this one.

“I think it’s not just a one-time rehearsal; it has to be a habit of performing together over and over again. It can’t happen overnight, that you just rehearse for 2-3 hours and are ready for a performance! I think the improvement and evolution happens when you’re travelling with the band and performing with them a lot of times. Of course there will be new additions, like my new single, along with certain new and trending songs. I’ve mixed and mashed a lot of 90s or retro songs with my new songs; I think that’s the kind of collaboration or jam we’re looking for, an experience which caters to people of all ages and (covers all) genres.”

Saadi Galli Aaja, Yahin Hoon Main, Chan Kitthan, Mere Liye Tum Kaafi Ho and Nazm Nazm are some of his favourite songs to sing on stage, he said, adding that his first track (for which he won a Filmfare award) is still the one most requested by crowds.

“I think it’s always been Pani Da Rang! That was very special - my debut song (from my) debut film. I think Pani Da Rang just garners the loudest cheer from the audience.”

After a long break due to the Covid pandemic, Ayushmann has been back on the road with his band in India, and recently announced a new US tour. He admitted he was “overwhelmed” by the opportunity to sing live again.

“People were probably thinking that’s the new normal - public conglomerations or gatherings won’t be happening any more. But it was just overwhelming to see them gather again, turn out in large numbers and support the artists…

And, I think there is nothing like a community watch or a community experience, because we are all social people. So I guess we’ve kept that (Covid break) in the past, and moving on, moving forward, I think we see brighter times.”

Being part of a live show is an experience that gives instant gratification, said Ayushmann, whilst as an actor, one has to wait for a film to release, for critics to weigh in, for fans to react. What is the feeling like, of seeing a huge crowd at a concert cheering him on?

“It feels great! When you’re making a film, you wait for 5-6 months and then you watch or read reviews; you don’t get to see the instant reaction of the public. But as a stage performer, be it as a singer or a theatre actor, you get to see the immediate reaction of the audience. Being on stage is a different ‘high’ altogether, because you take the energy from the audience, and we feed off each other’s energy. It can’t get bigger than the Coca-Cola Arena because this is the first time I am performing at such huge venue close to my country.”

While the Badhaai Ho star started singing much before he appeared in films, there are still a lot of people who know him mostly through his Bollywood work. We asked him how Ayushmann the singer was different from Ayushmann the actor.

“For me, singing is still food for the soul. I don’t sing as a commercial artist. When it comes to live performances, there’s this epiphany which happens every time I’m on stage. There are thousands of people there and I ask myself, am I getting paid to do this? It’s such a surreal experience when you do what you want to do and you’re enjoying it, and you’re getting paid for it. It’s something I never expected. So that’s how it’s different from films. Acting is my passion, but I just can’t live without music.”

If he could pick one song that described his life, what would it be?

“My life can’t be summed up in one particular song. At least once a week I discover a song that gives me goosebumps; it gives me the impetus to do better in life and inspires me. The songs of this week could be Libianca Fonji’s People and Kaifi Khalil’s Kahani Suno.”

Giving a shout out to his fans in the UAE, Ayushmann said, “Be the truest version of yourself, evolve every day, and go with it, more than running after material things. There has to be a fine balance between ambition and contentment! Apart from that, just come for the concert on April 23 to the Coca-Cola Arena and we’ll jam together, we’ll have fun together!”

Tickets for Ayushmann's show are available on Platinumlist.

Enid Grace Parker

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