The happiest star-actor in Asia right now is Ayushmann Khurrana. His latest and riskiest release in a career relying dangerously on risks has opened to a heartwarming response. Ayushmann and I spoke as he headed from Lucknow to the airport back home to Mumbai.
Exhausted but happy he said, “We didn’t want Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan to be seen as just a gay love story. Of course, it is about two men in love. But it is more about the family and how they react to their son’s same-sex relationship. We didn’t want a heavy-handed grim treatment. We wanted it to be a popcorn entertainer for the whole family, a family film. We didn’t want anyone to squirm while watching. I think we have achieved that.”
Ayushmann says he always wants his film to be different, bold game-changers but nonetheless palatable to the entire family. “I think I’d be a little worried if one of my films was given an ‘A’ certificate without warning. I thought my Article 15 was dark. But again it ended on a hopeful note. With Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan we knew we were making a happy film. That was the mood.”
The actor who has had a string of unbroken hits for the past three years feels the winds of change blowing across Indian cinema. “Ten or even five years ago, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan would not have been possible. The fact that we now have audiences watching this film favorably is reassuring.”
Even more gratifying is the fact that the censor board allowed the kiss between Ayushmann and his co-star Jitendra Kumar to remain. “They realized it was an important part of the film. It is the only intimate moment between the couple (him and actor Jitendra Kumar). Kuch toh intimacy dikhani tthi (we had to show some intimacy somewhere).
How did Ayushmann’s wife Tahira react to the kiss? “She was very relaxed about it. She saw it for what it was: as an organic part of the story and not a gimmick. I think we’ve all come a long way.”