Ayushmann Khurrana does not believe in safe play. The actor challenges the status quo in his films, sprinkling some mainstream gossip on the theme-based cinema. The formula worked and his last, Abhishek Kapoor’s Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, is a typical example. The film examines how India perceives the trans community, with The alpha type of Khurrana Mannu may be the stand-in for a large part of the population.
“It was very important for me to play this character, that of a stereotypical alpha type, who is stupid and does not know, because he represents the common type on the streets in India,” the actor admits. “How his emotional transformation takes place in the film is the essence of the film. I was born and raised in Chandigarh, so I know this city and I know the people. And I’ve done street theater and radio, so I know people who are like Mannu. I had a very different lifestyle, I was also a member of a cricket team, so I have been exposed to people from every walk and I have met these people who do not know and believe that their physical condition is above all. Mannu comes from this mentality. In fact, back then, when I was in school and college, there was almost no acceptance for the (LGBTQA +) community at that time. But we all learn as we grow older. Then I moved to Mumbai for my first job, interacting with people from the community and the empathy grew inside me. “Of course it was a gradual process, but now I am a completely different person.”
From his first film (Vicky Donor), Ayushmann was an actor who chose content-driven films and stuck to it. Doesn’t he think that limits him as an actor and the choices of the movies? The 37-year-old actor says that it is natural for him to make films with risky themes.
Ayushmann he said, “I think it will always be difficult. I started my film career with a risky subject. I have always been adventurous, I have no choice. “And, it’s very difficult to find great scripts, and it’s more than difficult to find a script that is known as a content script and still has a mass appeal to the masses.”
That said, there are some experiments in the future. “My next is an action movie, called Action Hero, and I’m learning MMA (mixed martial arts) so it’s going to be a big challenge for me, because it’s a break of sorts for me. Even Anek on this subject, with Anubhav Sinha, is also a breakthrough of the genre. So anything outside of my comfort zone is challenging. That said, I will not stop making social comedies or dramas because that is the core of my filmography. And, it’s very important to me, as I come from a street theater environment where I did social work, and that’s just an extension of that personality. “
Reviewing his first choice, his first film – Vicky Donor – Ayushmann shared that even before he got involved in the films, he had already rejected six films. “So what choice do I have left?” the actor asks the question of reality.
Khurrana shares, “You will be surprised. I was a VJ (video jockey) then and I was getting a lot of offers as an actor, and I was sad not in six movies already, even before I made my debut. Of course they were not big movies, they were with a lot of vanilla themes and concepts, made to death. So there was this urge inside me to do something different and break a path. I wanted to undertake concepts that were not explored. I’m glad that Shoojit Sircar showed faith in me and thought of such an issue that crossed the path and made it a family movie. “That paved the way for me and I thought that movies are a great way to spark a social change and start a conversation.”
Stressing the need for films to have important themes and yet for the masses, Ayushmann says, “If you make a very specialized film for an awake audience, there will be no change. Change can only happen if you leave this issue in the realm of a commercial cinema. “Only this can lead to change, otherwise it becomes an inner joke.”
“The kind of films I look forward to are films that prepare for transformation as cinema plays an important role in transforming society,” adds Ayushmann.
Regarding its weight, “It’s great because no one thought that films like this could be theatrical or that they would garner praise from audiences and critics. These were films that had long been recognized by critics. Now they have become mainstream, and I think it is a great victory for this kind of cinema that we call cinema “middle of the road”. They are somewhere in between, it has a great theme, it performs well and it still has commercial film tropes, and I think that’s why such films are called ‘middle of the road’ cinemas.
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