The first day, first shot: How Ayushmann Khurrana became a sperm donor in Vicky Donor.

Film Vicky Donor (2012) | Location Delhi
Shoojit da (director Shoojit Sircar) was looking for a quirky, Punjabi guy in his mid-20s to play the titular role in his rom-com, Vicky Donor. He had seen me on MTV, where I was working as an anchor, and got in touch through casting director Jogi Ji (Mallang) with whom I had auditioned for another film. When I finally met Shoojit da, he did not audition me. He simply looked at me and said that he liked me and wanted me to be myself. Later, he admitted that he had known I was his Vicky Arora the minute I entered the room where Juhi (Chaturvedi, writer) and Ronnie (Lahiri, producer) were also present.

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Soon after, he sent me for a month-long theatre workshop with NK Sharma, the founder of the theatre group, Act One. My co-star Yami (Gautam) was also a part of it. I have known her since we were kids as we are family friends. In fact, I interned under her father who is the head of a Punjabi channel in Chandigarh. I shot a documentary with him.

I clearly remember my first shot, which was in a bank where Yami’s character Ashima Roy worked. We were staying at a guest house in Delhi and we had converted its large garage into the bank. Vicky goes there to
open an account and meets her for the first time.

I was a bundle of nerves. Shoojit da is a director known for his subtlety and wanted me to tone down my voice but having been an anchor earlier, it was difficult for me to do so. He was patient with me and explained things but it still took me five to seven takes to internalize the subtlety he wanted from my performance.

However, overall, I was quite confident in front of the camera because of my previous experience and was excited about the film. Since I was already an established name on television, I had turned down at least six lead roles. Thanks to my previous gig which gave me a journalistic perspective, I’d seen the highs and lows and knew how important a script is for a film. I was looking for that one unique project and the search ended with Vicky Donor.

As far as the subject goes, it would have come as a shocker for me had I not been aware of sperm donation. When I was doing Roadies in 2004, we had to donate to a sperm bank in Allahabad as part of a task. Seven years later, when we were filming Vicky Donor, Shoojit da was pleasantly surprised that I not only knew about the process but it also didn’t make me cringe. I had been bowled over by the script! We had some cricket scenes in the film which were my favorites as I had played the sport at the district level. Shoojit da is a chilled-out director; he never shot for more than eight hours and every day after pack-up, we’d play cricket.

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