Review: ‘Cracking the Code’ by Ayushmann Khurrana and Tahira Kashyap

by Abha Iyengar

Code‘Cracking the Code’ by Ayushmann Khurrana and Tahira Kashyap

Published by Rupa Publications India Pvt.Ltd

Year: 2015; Pages: 136

Paperback; Price: 195

Genre: Non-fiction/self-help

ISBN: 978-81-291-3568-1

A young boy in Chandigarh dreams of becoming an actor. Nothing new. He is thin, scrawny, with no dress sense. No hope here. How he changes things for himself, moving from stepping-stone to stepping-stone, to finally become the star he is–that’s what the book is about.

Ayushmann Khurrana’s Cracking the Code is a thin volume, simply written and conversational in its tone. This is no hi-fi book, but it makes its points. For those who are looking at learning how to “get there”, they can read the codes and apply them. The codes he gives are not special to entering and doing well in the film industry, i.e. making it as an actor, but can be applied to any field.

For example, the much clichéd code of holding your loved ones close and not forgetting them is the first. He may be saying this because of his experience of how we lose them on our way to working towards fame. It is a balancing act for all, to say the least, and more so for actors and others of their ilk. So yes, that is the first code, and as we go further into the reading, we wonder if the other codes will be similar.

The book is steeped in reality in the sense that the facts are laid out as to how a small town boy, fluent in his mother-tongue more than in English, gawky, short, and who seems like he has nothing going for him except his faith in himself, makes it as an actor in the film industry and achieves his dream.

It is a story of affirmation. He also does a reality check for the youngsters who make it in reality shows etc., that they should not be fooled by all the promises made when they win. They are stars for a moment, not a lifetime, and if they want to continue to be show stealers, they have to do much more than win a reality show, which is just that one- time-high.  The other piece of advice is to not try to rub shoulders with the stars at parties and dos, there is no way they will get their breaks that way.

His advice is to work hard, prepare (he always did his homework for any audition), and grab opportunity when it knocks. Not be lazy, not be complacent and not be satisfied. Friends and foes may change, but passion doesn’t and that is the fact he underlines.  Follow the passion at least for a while, till you make it, or till you decide to change tracks. A lot of this depends on self-knowledge, he says, saying that many star-struck people think they can make it just on the basis of their looks and nothing much else. Ayushmann proves that that is not the way things happen.

Two things he says worked for him. He gave a 100% to whatever he did and he never gave an opportunity a miss. Which is something people do not do. These essential qualities perhaps have given him the success he has today. Destiny of course has its say, and luck by chance is very much an essence of life. But, as he says, he never gave an opportunity a miss.

The other piece of advice is to give any passion ten years to bear fruit, after which, bail out and do something else so as not to turn bitter. All this is sane advice and can be a take-home for anyone.

He was also willing to take risks, for Vicky Donor was a film not many would touch. That it turned out well has much to say for his ability to act and of course on the rest of the team to deliver.

He also says that sometimes you need a resting time in between a success and the next and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you need to be pushed, like Ayushmann’s father pushed him, and all the time you need to push yourself.

The book is an absorbing and quick read, and by sharing with us the path that helped him find his way to stardom, along with underlining the codes that helped him achieve this, Ayushmann has tried to assist all those who look to make it big.

However, it does feel as though the telling of the tale lacks a certain drama, or excitement that would raise this book to a level of a must-read. Again, a few typos have been overlooked, which takes away from the finish of the book.

Who should read this book? Youngsters, looking for some codes for life, or for success, whether in Bollywood or out of Bollywood. It always helps to learn from others. As Ayushmann says, Karan Johar’s office told him that they only work with stars when he first approached them for work. Despite the goof-ups and hard knocks, he stayed the course, not giving up, and has finally achieved some measure of recognition. And now Karan Johar has written one of the blurbs for his book.

Abha Iyengar is the author of four books, with another, ‘The Gourd Seller and Other Stories’ forthcoming in 2015. Her work has been published in several Indian and international journals and literary magazines.