Nautanki Saala opened to a mixed response, but actor Ayushmann Khurrana, who made a roaring debut with Vicky Donor, is unperturbed as he believes he has "evolved as an actor".
"I think I've evolved as an actor. My performance was appreciated. People are saying I am not a one-film wonder. That's the best part of being in this film," said Ayushmann.
"Some people presumed I was just being myself in Vicky Donor, a Punjabi boy trying to find my bearings in life. I had to work much harder on this character in 'Nautanki Saala'. I had to get into a different skin. And the bromance between me and Kunal Roy Kapoor is immensely liked.
"I was lucky to have him as my co-star. Just like Annu Kapoor, who was such a help in Vicky Donor, Kunal gave my character a perspective and a concentrated energy. Beyond that, I never have any expectation from life," he added.
The one good thing that has come out of the Nautanki Saala experience is Ayushmann's friendship with Kunal.
"He is a terrific guy, and an experienced actor. He has been doing theatre for 15 years, so he's my senior. (He is) a very down-to-earth guy. It was fun working with him. You know, I've never experienced any viciousness in the industry, or in my life. That way, I've lived a sheltered life.
"During my growing-up years in Chandigarh, or even in Mumbai, I've never come across nasty people. I've only heard of it but never seen the bad side of the film industry. Of course I was rejected many times over in auditions. But I wouldn't call that rude," said the 28-year-old.
Today, Ayushmann has acquired the reputation of being picky about his roles.
"Every actor has to be careful about the work he does," Ayushmann said in defence.
"I want to make sure the characters that I do give me a chance to broaden my horizon as an actor. But my first two films were quirky. I'd also like to do conventional parts. Every role can't be out-of-the-box. I'd like to do something in the box now. In fact, the Yash Raj Films' movie that I am doing with Sonam Kapoor is far more conventional than my first two films," he said.
Ayushmann's wife lives in Chandigarh with their one-year old son Virajer. In Mumbai, the actor misses them acutely even as his post-debut film fetches him a fresh crop of accolades.
"I do wish my wife Tahira and my son were here with me in Mumbai. But she is doing her Phd in our home town Chandigarh. I don't get to see my son much. The past year has been the busiest time of my life," sighs Ayushmann.
Ayushmann visited his wife and son in Chandigarh for three days recently.
"I'd love to have them with me permanently. But I'd like my son to grow up in Chandigarh," he said.
Whatever the audience response may have been, Ayushmann was thrilled to get his wife's approval for his performance in Nautanki Saala.
"She's my most honest critic. I constantly try to get a compliment out of her when we're together. I was thrilled when she saw Nautanki Saala and said I've improved as an actor," he said.