Ashish Sharma is the next small-screen dude, attempting to make a big splash in films. He has done a few small cine roles before. But this time, he is not only acting as the lead in this film based on transgenders, but has also written it. It is a home production, with wife Archana T Sharma helming affairs.
“Khejdi is the journey of a transgender individual, attempting to find his identity and place in a tradition-bound society. It is so unfair to discriminate people who are born differently. Criminals get a second chance, but transgender people will continue to be castaways?,” says Ashish, currently playing a brave warrior-painter, in Sony show, Prithvi Vallabh.
“Our film is based on the short story, Sanjha, written by Kiran Singh. I had heard it a long time ago, but it stayed with me. Eventually, Archana and I decided to make a film on it.”
Ashish’s other hit TV projects include Rangrasiya and Siya Ke Ram.
Ashish is quite practical, and understands that such types of films are not big grossers. “But they have their own set of audiences. The most important thing here is to get your budgeting bang on target.”
“Many might question why I chose this type of film as my launch vehicle, as opposed to commercial pot broilers. I really don’t give too much attention to crossing over, etc. I am more concerned about my creative output. I want to be part of stuff which makes an impact, and which I can recollect with pride, when I am old and dusted.”
Going on, he adds, “I don’t like this discrimination between offbeat and mainstream cinema. I am not against big films; many are good as well. I am lucky to be around the golden period of Indian cinema, when many big film makers are churning out content-driven projects as well.”
Unlike other art house filmmakers, Ashish will not premier his film in international film festivals. Rather, he will screen at the upcoming Mumbai Kashish queer film festival. “I can’t understand why we need to go abroad to showcase our wares. Aren’t our desi film festivals good enough? Have we even bothered to check the value and graph of foreign festivals? Kashish is South Asia’s biggest LGBT festival and we have films from 45 countries. Why do we still need the foreign tag? We need to support desi film festivals.”
For the moment, Ashish is not even thinking in terms of a theatrical release. “Next, we will do rounds of the internal fest circuit. Here, I wish to add that just going to film festivals does not ensure moolah. You need to win. Having said that, if you do get screened, you might land buyers for limited ties.”
In closing, we ask Ashish whether he is not afraid that playing a queer might harm his macho image on GEC. “No, I don’t think so. Audiences have matured, and by now, have seen what I am capable of.”
Way to go, Ashish!! All the best for Khejdi…