2023 has proved to be quite an eventful year for Ayush Mehra. While he got to play a leading part in a film for the first time with ‘Kacchey Limbu’, his performance in the series ‘Minus One: New Chapter’, too, received a lot of appreciation. The actor, who has largely played likeable characters so far, talks about his journey in the industry, being an outsider, wish to do a theatrical film, admiration for Alia Bhatt and more.
Life seems to have come full circle for you. A couple of years back, you started out with smaller parts in films. You gained recognition with your performances in web shows and now, with ‘Kacchey Limbu’, you have played the lead in a film for the first time. How do you look at your journey so far?I am extremely grateful about how things have panned out for me. I started out as an assistant director, did theatre for a while and also did a few ads in between. After that, I acted in a few digital sketches and they went viral. That led to long-format shows on YouTube and streaming platforms. I wanted to do a film for as long as I can remember. After doing a lot of work, I finally got a film to do. It took me a long time to reach here. The journey has been filled with struggles but has been beautiful at the same time. I have learnt a lot through this process. Every experience I went through contributed towards making me a better artist. Was the experience of shooting for a film any different from working on a series or a digital sketch?The experience is largely the same. The effort is the same. However, the level of excitement was higher as I had been wanting to do a film ever since I started off as an actor. Whether you are doing an ad or a film, you have to give it your best shot. We didn’t think we are making a film, so we to have to work harder. However, being a part of a film is a special feeling. ‘Kacchey Limbu’ had a digital release on Jio Cinema. Do you look forward to doing a theatrical film in the future?I hope that happens very soon. I am happy that I have finally done a film. Now, the wait is to do a film that comes on the big screen. Apart from you, ‘Kacchey Limbu’ featured Radhika Madan and Rajat Barmecha in principal roles. The one thing the three of you have in common is the fact that all of you came from the outside and made a name for yourselves in the industry on your own. You are right! We did not think about this while shooting the film. I guess people like us who come from the outside have to keep working and stay focussed on doing the right things. Hard work and persistence will get you somewhere. You have to stay in the present moment and deal with things as they come. You grew up in Mumbai. Did that make it easier for you take your first steps in the industry?I am from Mumbai but I had no connections in the industry. Of course, it is a privilege to be in Mumbai and try your luck in acting. Apart from family and friends, your entire support system is here. If you are having a bad day, you can speak to your family or hang out with your friends. I have massive respect for people who come from different parts of the country to work in this business. I remember getting rejected very badly in my very first audition. I was very young then. I came home and started crying. When my mum saw me crying, she tried to console me. I told her that I don’t want to try my luck in this field anymore. My mum simply told me, “give ten more auditions and then, decide.” My tenth audition led me to my first and I decided to move forward in this journey. Somebody who comes from outside Mumbai might not even somebody around to tell them to keep moving ahead. Things are far more difficult for them. In that sense, I feel very privileged. However, the struggle is a part of everyone’s journey in this industry. I knew nobody in the industry and had to start from scratch. You had stated in an interview that you were not taken very seriously as an actor initially because you were doing digital sketches. Do you think there was a bias against actors who were working in the digital space then?Yes but things are changing now. You see actors from the movies doing web and vice versa. Initially, there were many stereotypes. People would say things like, “he has done ads, so let’s not cast him in a show”. These pre-conceived notions should not be there. However, one should not get disheartened and continue to move forward. People are going to say a lot of things but you should do what you think is correct for you. Alia Bhatt is your favourite actor from this generation. What is that one quality about her as an actor that you would like to emulate?Alia is a genuinely phenomenal actor and I love watching her on the screen. She is good in every role she does. I get inspired by most of her performances. Some of the other actors I admire are Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Vicky Kaushal. These are actors from my generation and they put in so much hard work into everything they do. It is extremely inspiring to see that. I hope I get to work with all of them. What are you doing next?I am reading a couple of scripts. I am very grateful about the fact that I got so much love this year. With ‘Kachchey Limbu’, I fulfilled my wish of doing a film. ‘Minus One: New Chapter’ was a very difficult project and I was so happy to get a lot of appreciation for it. I am hoping the remaining months of this year, too, prove to be eventful for me.