Ayushmann Khurrana (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Actor Ayushmann Khurrana says his attempt with his film choices is to break societal taboos, but he constantly tries to reinvent himself as he does not want the genre to become formulaic for him.
In films like the Shubh Mangal Saavdhan series, Bala (2019), or his latest Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui(2021), Ayushmann Khurrana has touched upon themes ranging from homophobia, transphobia, premature balding, and erectile dysfunction, with the constant threat of one’s identity at its centre.
In an interview with PTI, Khurrana said taboo subjects intrigue him as they are a great “fodder for conversations”. “It is important that these subjects are placed in a middle-class, conservative backdrop because otherwise there will be no conflict. If you place any of it in an upper-class, woke household, there will be no conflict. It has to be a regressive, conservative family so that there is some change,” he said.
The actor added, “That conflict invokes humour and eventually gives out a social message in a palatable way. Even if I do a generic film, it has to be a conversation starter, a value addition. Otherwise, what is the fun of doing cinema?”
The 37-year-old actor is aware that many feel films on taboo subjects have become his go-to genre. Khurrana said he does not mind the perception but is careful to not fall into a pattern. “As an actor, my challenge is to regularly break the genre, and that will happen with films like Anek and Action Hero coming up. As someone who feels cinema should be used responsibly, how do we do something different with a taboo subject? It cannot be a formula. In certain films, I am the active part of the subject–like the Shubh Mangal… series while in others, like Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui or Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015), I am the reactive part. I have to choose the side; I can’t always be the same. But it is important to have taboo-breaking subjects on screen. If that is my genre, so be it,” he added.
But Khurrana said the task of hunting for braver scripts is a “tedious exercise”. Out of an average of 100 scripts, the actor finds only one interesting material worthy to be translated on the big screen. Much of Khurrana’s attempt then is to consistently choose scripts that have the potential to speak to a larger audience.
With many exposed to content from across the world thanks to the streaming platforms, he said it is impossible to be mediocre today.
“The audience today expects nothing but the best. In the past two years, they have watched content from across the world and a lot of good stuff. In the last two years, they have progressed ten years. A certain section has regressed ten years too. There is a dichotomy out there. People will be unforgiving now because they are exposed to international cinema. Vanilla may not work anymore,” he added.