Trust Ayushmann Khurrana to amaze his fans with his talent. For his film Bambai Fairytale — on the little-known life of the legendary Shivkar Bapuji Talpade — Ayushmann has completely transformed his lifestyle, body language and speech pattern on location in a far-flung place called Gondol in Gujarat.
Director Vibhu Puri, an erstwhile assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, can’t believe the change in the actor. “When I chose him, everyone discouraged me saying Ayushmann has an uber cool image and does not fit to play a 19th century scientist. But I was adamant. I saw my Bapuji Talpade in him. Don’t ask me why. And my faith has paid off. We’ve shot around 50 per cent of the film. Audiences will be startled by Ayushmann’s transformation after seeing him in three back-to-back urban rom-coms.”
Puri’s journey is no less amazing. He set out to make Chenab Gandhi, a film on the life of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan for Bhansali. Amitabh Bachchan was finalised for the title role while Vidya Balan and Rajeev Khandelwal were also roped in. However, the project fell apart.
Recalling the horrific time of uncertainty, Puri says, “When Chenab Gandhi didn’t happen, my world fell apart. I was shattered. Luckily I got a lot of support from within the film industry. Everyone advised me to make a light contemporary film. But soft options don’t interest me. I decided to go back 60 years further than Chenab Gandhi to recreate the life of the man who flew the first plane in India.”
What fascinated Vibhu about Bapuji Talpade was his resilience and mystery surrounding his life. “Not much, in fact nothing, is known about Bapuji Talpade’s life. He was a dreamer. And he taught us that nothing is impossible. Bapuji’s story is truly inspirational. And I had to tell it. But there was no research material, no documented evidence on his life. Ayushmann and I had to recreate his life mostly through imagination.”