Actor Ayushmann Khurrana social drama’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, which deals with same-sex love, is set to release on February 21.
Directed by Hitesh Kewalya, the film also stars Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta, Jitendra Kumar and Manu Rishi.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Ayushmann Khurrana talks about Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, and the need to create a brand new thought process for the regressive Indian audience.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
The trailer of Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan has been received well, and there is curiosity. What do you have to say about the love you are receiving for your film?
Our film is one of its kind. It is a giant leap for Indian cinema where we are portraying two men as homosexuals, and we are very front-footed about it. It is also the reaction of the family when they find out that their son is gay. The comments that we have got on YouTube for our trailer are unanimously positive. It is a very healthy sign for Indian cinema and our society in general. This film could be like an induction for the Indian audience. It is not something that is very serious. It is mainstream and commercial. It is a popcorn entertainer.
To play a homosexual character, what kind of research and prep did you do?
I have a lot of friends from the community. There is a close friend of mine who came out of the closet about three years ago. He is in South Africa. He told me how he couldn’t come out for so long because of family pressure, but he could be himself when he was out of India. He could be truly happy there but not here. So, I asked a lot of basic questions to him. The film is not really for the community. It is for those who are not with the community. We have seen films in the past, be it Aligarh or the series, Made in Heaven. They were very serious attempts for the inclusion of the community, whereas this one is not a serious film. It is a funny film.
Also read: Is Bollywood finally ready for gay films? | Ayushmann Khurrana is not the only one: Bollywood’s top five LGBTQ films | Ayushmann and Jitendra’s rapport was like Azharuddin and Jadeja: Gajraj Rao
While you have spoken about sensitivity, you have not really shied away from homosexual stereotypes. Your character does wear a nose-ring, has tattoos, etc.
The thing is that we are catering to the boomer generation. We are catering to people who have these stereotypes in their minds. So, though we have not overplayed these stereotypes, we have really toned them down. Of course, there is a nose-ring, but I am not that feminine in the film. There is a hint of it somewhere but not always. Jeetu is the one who is very subtle. I am the one who is over-the-top. We are two different sides of the coin. At the same time, it was important to cater to every single person out there. It is not just for people who are sensitised towards homosexuals. It is for people who are against the LGBTQ community. That’s our target audience. That’s why we cannot be overly sensitive. As I said, it is the induction or the first introduction of homosexuality for the regressive Indian audience. So, we had to give that commercial tonality to the film. We had to make it funny. We have songs, dance, family drama, humour – we have everything. It cannot be a serious film. In the end, a message will be seeped in without them even realising it because they will consume entertainment, and it will be like subtle messaging with entertainment.
Your director Hitesh Kewalya said in an interview that when a mainstream actor like you does a character like this, it brings a certain kind of validation to the character.
First and foremost, I think there has to be empathy. One has to empathise with the situation, with the character and be one with the milieu. I think a great cast garnishes your character very well. Before that, to start a great journey like this, you first have to choose the right script. It should be relevant and unique. Though we have seen films which are based on homosexuality in the past, this is probably the first commercial attempt in Hindi cinema. With Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, we are not preaching to those who are converted. We are creating a brand new thought process for the average regressive Indian audience.
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