Veejays! They are the most sought after professionals today. Music channels, Reality shows and cricket fields. Bollywood too has opened its arms to them. MTV VJ Ayushmann Khurrana has tasted all sans Bollywood.

A self-confessed cricket fan, Khurrana was delighted at being part of Set Max’s team of anchors at the recently concluded Indian Premier League.

In an exclusive chat with TellyCafe’s Mayur Lookhar, Khurrana talks about Lalit Modi, the much criticized IPL parties, regret of not having apologized to Indian cricket legend Rahul Dravid, how he’s missing good friend Raghu at MTV and more. Read on…

What do VJs possess that they are being drafted as reporters into cricket tournaments?

I don’t know about World Cup, but as far as IPL is concerned, it’s a cross between entertainment and cricket. Unlike your usual cricket match, which mainly caters to purists, we want the women and children to view our coverage. Perhaps, they look to VJs who can help them connect with the game. Besides at IPL, we’ve never followed the mundane rules of cricket (broadcast).

At times, you appeared to be lost on the cricket field. Was it tough to face to the cricketers?

Tough? Hmm, I’ll be first to admit that I had my set of faux pas. In fact, I’ve tweeted about follies daily. The first happened when I had to cut short Dravid because the presentation was about to take place. Unfortunately, I forgot to apologize to Dravid. The second was when I referred to R.Ashwin as T.Ashwin. He was quick to correct me.

Honestly speaking, these things happen when you’re dealing with umpteen number of cricketers. Besides, all this is live, and as anchors, you have no retakes. Even a Ravi Shastri makes mistakes. It’s a tough challenge.

Apart from the cricket, IPL made news for its controversies. Did the players talk at length over these issues?

Everyone gave the controversies a ‘royal’ (no pun intended) miss. I just smiled at Lalit Modi whenever we crossed by. I have interviewed Modi before the controversy erupted. He was all jovial then. Though, I must admit that smile was wiped of his face during the last week of IPL. I’d never seen Modi with such a worried look on his face.

The IPL parties were criticized a lot as they supposedly spoilt our cricketers. Did you attend any of these parties and were they sleazy in nature?

I attended all most every party. Were they sleazy in nature? I really don’t know. However, what I’ve learnt is that such parties have always been part of cricket from the ancient times. Our own Ravi Shastri enjoyed the image of a Casanova. It’s the first, and the last time they are televised. However, such parties will continue to happen.

You’re hosting India’s Got Talent again. Despite its noble format, the show could somehow not generate the high TRPs one expected it too. It was felt that show lacked a bit in promotion. Do you agree?

I really don’t what’s the channel is up to this time. They certainly will like to take it to the next level. Honestly, the hosts or judges don’t make a show. In the end, it’s the talent on display that will bring you eyeballs. Dance India Dance is a prime example of it. At IGT, we managed to have a good mix of varied talents. People remember an Abhijeet Sawant as the maiden Indian Idol, but no one talks of Aman Verma or Mini Mathur today.

You host Wassup Youngistan, which claims to the voice of the youth. Looking at the problems that face our country, is the youth really standing up against it? Mere voicing of opinion in such shows don’t really help the cause.

Well, this is relative subject. Over the years, we Indians have evolved from being passive to active. This is a positive change. Our show doesn’t claim to have revolutionized things overnight. MTV (Wassup Youngistan) was among the first channel to have taken up the Justice for Jessica Lal issue. As a youth channel, MTV has a huge responsibly towards the nations at the same time, we here to entertain too. MTV is the perfect mix of entertainment and news.

You’re a TV star but your show Stripped makes fun of TV actors. Don’t you think it makes you unpopular with the actors?

Personally, I have nothing but utmost respect for TV actors. They are talented bunch and have their own loyal audience. However, there’s also an audience which considers these daily soaps as disturbing and pointless. They feel that we’re merely aping the west. I’m just the mouthpiece of youth. I didn’t even spare my own show India’s Got Talent. However, Colors and BIG Synergy had no reservations about it. You’ll be surprised that I received lot of flak from the same audience whilst I was part of the squabbles in Music Ka Maha Muqqabla.

It may sound moralistic but shows like shows like Splitsvilla and Roadies may be hit with the youth, but in hindsight don’t you think in some way they go against our culture? Besides, these are western concepts too, so aren’t you aping as well?

Most people who take part in such shows come from small towns. They get a culture shock when exposed to the urban lifestyle. Throwing each other in a pool is no big deal for you and me, but these (small town) guys construe it as sleaze. A few of them went overboard and spread leis in the media. I will advise these kids to grow up.

As for moral aspect, do we really have a culture? Honestly, the culture quotient is non-existent. These shows have their entertainment value. They survive because people love watching and participating in them. Unfortunately, they take this as short cut to attain money and fame. You can’t fault the channel for it.

How has life been at MTV without Raghu and Rajiv?

MTV itself has been on upheaval path. MTV is now trying to veer towards a Hindi GEC. We’re now having shorter format shows… It’s just not just the VJs, but executives too have left the channel.

As for Raghu, I do miss him a lot as he’s a good fried. It’s a little boring without him at office. Besides, he’s not betrayed us. He’s only produced a show for Channel [V]. He’s not their employee.

A lot of VJs are making it big in Bollywood. When will we get to see Ayushmann in a film?

Frankly, I myself don’t know when this will happen. I’m prepared to wait for one, five or even ten years. Besides, my father’s name isn’t Rishi Kapoor.

What about returning to fiction on TV?

I’m waiting for a renaissance to happen on TV. In the past, people loved doing Doordarshan shows as they were considered to be the best. The situation hasn’t changed even though we’ve have many channels now.

Finally, how’s it going for you at home?

I’m engaged to my long time girlfriend. We know each other since our college days. I like to keep my personal life personal.


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