Even as he refutes talk that erectile dysfunction drama Thai Massage is similar to Khurrana’s Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Gajraj applauds actor’s selection of scripts
Gajraj Rao in Thai Massage; (right) Ayushmann Khurrana
The past few years have marked a turnaround for Gajraj Rao, as he was a part of fascinating offerings, including Badhaai Ho (2018) and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (2020). In his upcoming movie Thai Massage, the senior actor plays 70-year-old Atmaram Dubey, who suffers from erectile dysfunction. The theme might be strikingly similar to that of Ayushmann Khurrana-led Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017), but Rao insists the commonalities end there. “Atmaram has led most of his life for others. There comes a time when he feels lonely and [wants to explore his] desires,” he says. The story follows the protagonist as he shares his dilemma with Santulan Kumar, essayed by Divyenndu.
Handling the delicate subject is no cakewalk. The senior actor says director Mangesh Hadawale’s sensitivity shines through in the film’s treatment. “If you’ve seen Mangesh’s Marathi film, Tingya (2008), you will know his sensibilities are right. There is nothing cheap in our narrative.” The Imtiaz Ali-produced film will lock horns with Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani and Neena Gupta-starrer Uunchai. Interestingly, both films focus on the joys and sorrows of old age. “I hope the audiences appreciate both films,” smiles Rao.
It’s evident that he is enjoying the current phase, picking and choosing from the novel stories that are being told. In some ways, he says that Badhaai Ho co-star Khurrana’s choices influence him. “Ayushmann could have it easy, opting for the routine commercial fare. But he takes risks with newer subjects, knowing that perhaps four or five out of the 10 films may not achieve commercial success. Even though he is younger than me, his choices inspire me.”