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Ayushmann Khurrana admits he declined gay community’s event invitation in college, says he has evolved: ‘There was no malice for them’

Actor Ayushmann Khurrana said in an interview that in college, he turned down an invitation from the gay community to attend an event, but insisted that he was not shunning them, and has evolved tremendously as a person since then.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
December 18, 2021 11:08:46 am
Ayushmann KhurranaAyushmann Khurrana opens up about the debate over trans representation. (Photo: Ayushmann Khurrana/Instagram)

Ayushmann Khurrana’s latest film, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, has sparked a conversation about the transgender community’s representation in Bollywood. While some have praised director Abhishek Kapoor’s film for the sensitive, nuanced way in which it presents the queer community, others decry its commercial sheen and the fact that the transgender character is played by a cisgender woman, actor Vaani Kapoor.

Ayushmann, who has made a career of doing films about taboo subjects and marginalised communities, opened up about the debate in an interview with Film Companion’s Anupama Chopra.

He said that he became aware of the trans community when he was 13. He recalled an incident when a girl who identified as male was referred to a gynaecologist by his father. But the doctor shunned the girl, and suggested that she seek psychological help instead. The girl eventually went to Mumbai, underwent sex reassignment surgery, and is now living a happily married life.

Ayushmann said that he gradually evolved as a person, when it comes to understanding trans and larger LGBTQ issues. “Empathy was always there, since childhood. But yes, it takes time to… you know, we’ve grown a lot. We’re learning every single day. We’ve evolved so much as a society.”

He then said that when he was in college, he was invited by the gay community for an event. “I just said no, but there was no malice for them. There was that fear ‘ki mere sath kya karenge’ (I was afraid what they’ll do to me). I am a straight guy. ‘With due respect, I can’t come’.”

“But I was not shunning them,” Ayushmann insisted.

Earlier, Abhishek Kapoor had spoken about not casting a trans actor in the film. He told Indianexpress.com, “We went through many avenues and there was a thought about casting a trans person but you know I find everyone is so fascinated just by actors. Why is it that everything is legitimised by an actor? Why can’t a trans person write the film? Why can’t a trans person direct the film? First of all, this fascination is incorrect. Films are not made by actors, they are made by filmmakers and writers. Eventually, there is a representation by an individual actor but I try to see above this because there is a story to be told. You have to reach out to people at large by taking the story to them and I thought this is the best way to take this story there. When you talk to someone, you have to talk to them in their language.”

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