“I come from a very conservative small-town family, and my parents never wanted me to be an actor. We are from the feudal family. My great grandfather received a bravery medal from Tatiya Tope while fighting against East India Company. Since they come from old school thought, there was a bit of apprehension when Ram Kamal had narrated the story. I could emotionally connect with the subject because at the end of the day he was telling a love story, but I kept thinking that ‘ghar pe kya bolun'” says Azhar.
So is he homophobic? “Not at all. I have nothing against gays or lesbians. But I have to balance it with my family. I have friends in this industry who have different sexual preferences and I am fine with it. A boy falling in love with a boy is no more a social taboo or shock. After my first image from the film was published, I got friend requests from 200 men along with many women fans,” laughs Azhar.
“Sexual preferences are very personal. That shouldn’t be a judging or deciding factor,” says Azhar. He is happy that he is a part of a feature that has collaborated with United Nations Free and Equal. “Thanks to my director Ram Kamal and my leading lady Celina Jaitly that we have United Nations Free and Equal supporting our film,” adds Azhar. Incidentally, he worked with a transgender actor Shree Ghatak for the first time and that’s when he realized that they have a tough life. “As I have mentioned that I had gay friends in my school and college, but I never had an opportunity to interact with transgenders in my life. I again thank my director for giving me this opportunity to share screen time with Shree Ghatak, as she is an amazing lady and her life story is full of challenges,” avers Azhar.
So will he be comfortable doing a gay lovemaking scene in a movie? “I am an actor. I had a lovemaking scene with Celina Jaitly in this film, which has been aesthetically shot by Ram Kamal, and yes, if I get a sensitive maker like him who understands his job well, then I don’t mind romancing anyone on screen,” affirms Azhar.
Since he is a part of a film that pays tribute to Rituparno Ghosh, who was extremely vocal about sexual rights and social rights of the LGBTQIA community, does he feel that this film will strengthen their voice? “Yes, certainly. This film is all about hope and happiness. When you will see the film you will realize that every character in its way is trying to bring in certain changes in society. Maybe it is not underlined like a regular commercial film, but the nuances are there. I am sure people like Usmaan and Romita exists in our society. It’s so relatable that you will feel emotionally connected with all of them,” assures Azhar.The film will be premiered on Zee5 on April 15 l. Produced by Aritra Das and Shailendra Kumar under the banner of Assorted Motion Picture and SS1 Entertainment the film also stars Lillette Dubey in a pivotal role. Shot in Kolkata the film has music by Shailendra Sayanti. “I am eagerly waiting for the release. Though some of the casting agencies have approached me for web series and Hindi feature, I am not in a hurry. I want to choose good characters and good makers,” signs