2019’s two National award-winning ‘Best Actors’ Ayushmann Khurrana and Vicky Kaushal are all set to lock horns at the box-office this Friday with Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Bhoot Part 1, respectively. Quite comfortably Ayushmann has the edge. Here’s why.

1. Vicky goes for the conventional format. A horror film with creepy sound effects and creatures pouncing out of the dark…Really, Mr Kaushal, you are not in touch with how far the horror genre has gone across the world. Or is it that Karan Johar is doing his static tandav? Doesn’t stand a Ghost of a chance. Pun intended.

2. Ayushmann’s film goes the other way. Its same-sex theme is not only a game-changer and a ceiling breaker, but it is just the kind of cinema Ayushmann has come to be identified with. By the time Ayushmann will catch hold of his screen partner Jitendra Kumar and smooch him on his puckered lips, that glass ceiling will lie shattered to the ground. Aage aage dekho hota hai kya.

3. Since Ayushmann and Vicky Kaushal won the National award jointly for Andha Dhun and Uri, the scale has tilted in Ayushmann’s favour. Ayushmann has come to be identified with quality work. Kaushal has not been able to build on the fan-following that he accrued after Uri. His stardom has been channelized into Page 3 linkups and scandals regarding alleged substance abuse at high-profile parties. Sadly he is now seen as a Karan Johar groupie. A pitfall Ayushmann avoided. Better an artistic tramp than belonging to a camp.

4. This brings me to the Karan Johar factor. Vicky Kaushal is too closely affiliated with the Dharma gang. Earlier during his Masaan and Manmarziyan days his strength was his independent image as an actor ready to take risks. With Bhoot he seems to have discovered an appetite for convenient mainstream positioning. Bhoot is a risk-free venture. Even if it is mediocre shiver giver it will get the audience that it targets itself to.

5. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, on the other hand, is an out-and-out risk venture. It is bound to raise eyebrows and ruffle quite a few feathers. But Ayushmann is ready to take on the challenge, stick his neck out in the real yatra even if it means getting his neck chopped off. In other words, he is ready to venture out in the dark and doesn’t need Katrina Kaif to walk with him.

Verdict: My choice is definitely Ayushmann Khurrana and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. As for Bhoot, Ram Gopal Varma got there first.