Ayushmann Khurrana: Films must cause discomfort to the comforted
Recounting his first brush with caste divide in college, Ayushmann Khurrana talks about why movies like Article 15 are essential
Give him a drama with a social issue at its heart and you can count on Ayushmann Khurrana to throw his might behind it. His penchant to tell relevant stories aside, the actor says that the decision to front Anubhav Sinha's Article 15 — that takes on the rampant caste discrimination in India — stemmed from a personal space. Khurrana recounts how an incident during his junior college days brought him face-to-face with the harsh impact of caste divide.
"I remember, the topper in my class secured a seat in one of the engineering colleges in Chandigarh. That was when my batch mates realised that he belonged to the reserved category. [The revelation] impacted the guy deeply because he did not want his caste to be known; he went into depression. This incident shows that it is deep-rooted in our society, and people develop complexes. We need to treat everybody at par," says the actor, who also supports an NGO in Delhi that provides a dignified and alternative livelihood to women ragpickers.
It is to Khurrana's credit that he has tackled difficult subjects — be it sperm donation in Vicky Donor (2012) or erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017) — with sensitivity. While he understands the appeal of escapist masala films, he emphasises that cinema should also mirror the evils prevalent in society. "Cinema, as a piece of art, should comfort and probably provide discomfort to the comforted. This is a film that raises questions about casteism. So, as an aware citizen and a socially-conscious artiste, it was my responsibility to do the film."
Also read: Article 15 Movie Review: Real and riveting!
The actor isn't flustered that the movie has drawn the ire of several fringe groups, who allege that it depicts the Brahmin community in poor light. "It is a sensitive issue, but we have not offended anybody. You need to watch the movie, and then protest."
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