After winning the Best Actor at the 66th National Awards, Ayushmann Khurrana continues his lookout for challenging scripts.
His latest film Article 15 was a disturbing exposition on the caste system, and the young actor seems to have arrived at a stage in his career where there is no turning back.
"I guess I am now identified with a relevant kind of cinema, and that’s a place I enjoy occupying," he tells Subhash K Jha. "When I started doing cinema, I was not a stranger to the socio-political relevance in my work. I had done theatre, serious issue-based theatre, before films. So doing cinema like Vicky Donor, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Badhaai Ho and Article 15 was a natural progression from one medium to another.”
Was Ayushmann surprised by the strong reactions to Article 15?
“Not really. We expected the film to kick up a controversy," he replies. "We knew it would ruffle feathers. The caste system is something that has bothered me for a long time. Inequality in society is a subject that cinema has never dealt with fairly. It’s always been hush-hush. (Director) Anubhav Sir brought it out into the open."
But he wouldn’t mind doing films with songs and dances in them.
"We have a long tradition of singing and dancing to express emotions. I am doing a film called Dream Girl, where I play a heterosexual man, who is comfortable in men’s and women’s clothes. It harks back to the traditional Ram Leela staged in rural areas. Even today, men play both male and female roles in these performances. A film like this will have music nicely fitting in, even when the subject is authentic and the treatment is rooted to authenticity.”
Ayushmann admits there had been songs in Article 15.
“There was a romantic track for my girlfriend in the film (played by Isha Talwar) but somehow, it seemed to distract. Anubhav sir felt songs could not fit in. But I don’t think music and realistic cinema are mutually exclusive. Badhaai Ho was another very real film of mine. It had singing and dancing.”
Ayushmann’s romance with realism will continue in his forthcoming films.
"In Bala, I play a young man, who goes bald. Baldness can be a terrible nightmare."