‘We don’t audition outsiders’: When Ayushmann Khurrana was rejected by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions in 2007
An excerpt from actor Ayushmann Khurrana’s book -- Cracking the Code: My Journey in Bollywood -- in which he recalled being rejected by filmmaker Karan Johar in 2007, is going viral, after the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput sparked a renewed conversation around nepotism in the film industry. Ayushmann recalled that one of the first Bollywood personalities that he interviewed back when he was a radio jockey was Karan. At an awards show in 2007, Ayushmann asked Karan for his number and told him that he wanted to be an actor. Ayushmann continued, “The next day I dialled the number they’d given me. They said Karan wasn’t in office. The day after that I called again. They said he was busy. And finally, my bubble burst when, the subsequent day, they told me bluntly ‘We only work with stars, and can’t work with you’.” In a twist of fate, Karan invited Ayushmann to his chat show, Koffee with Karan, in 2018, when Ayushmann had, in fact, become a star. And the actor chose to tell him this story. “You gave me a landline number. The next morning, when I called the number and asked to speak to Karan Johar, the person on the other line said, ‘We don’t audition outsiders and newcomers’ or something like that.” Karan replied, “I gave you the right number. That was very sweet of me! I must’ve thought that you have potential.” Ayushmann responded by saying that the goal was to reach him, which didn’t happen.