2018 was quite a year for Ayushmann Khurrana but this year he’s taken on something quite different. His forthcoming film ‘Article 15’, directed by Anubhav Sinha, is a snapshot of the issue of caste discrimination within Indian society. It’s based on true events and will see the actor playing a police officer for the first time in his career, delving into the hard-hitting genre.
BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the actor, ahead of the film’s premiere next week at the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival 2019.
How do you feel that ‘Article 15’ will be the opener of this year’s Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival?
I feel totally escalated and totally delighted because I think this is a very important film for Indian cinema and I feel it more because this film is premiering in London before its actual release in India. So I’m really excited that it is and that too in London which is a great cultural hub.
You’re playing a cop for the first time in your career. How did you find taking on such a character?
Of course, it was not easy at all because I didn’t want to follow anyone who’s played a similar role in Bollywood or Hollywood. I wanted to play a real cop because it’s a realistic film so I met a lot of real cops. I’m friends with Mr Manoj Mavle, Senior Indian Police Officer in Delhi. I imbibed his qualities, the way he talks and his moustache also as part of my character in the film. That was my kind of admiration to be a part of the film.
In your career, you’ve been primarily associated with light-hearted films and ones with a social message. What made you sign a film like ‘Article 15’?
Honestly, it’s not just a film. It’s the need of the hour and one of the most relevant and important films of our time. It deals with caste discrimination which still exists in India. It’s an an issue that needs to be addressed. Cinema is a great opinion leader as people take it very seriously in India.
When you were shooting for the film and were getting into the skin of the character, did you get affected personally by the intensity of the subject?
Of course, I was absorbed. I couldn’t sleep well because it was heavy for me, this particular film. It’s quite a dark film and my first of its kind. Also, this is the first film in which I’m playing a man. Until now, I’ve been playing a boy. It’s a film where I’m not just a victim of the circumstance but trying to be the master of circumstance. So, it was a little difficult and I was in awe of of the situation.
Have you personally been affected by that kind of discrimination in your personal life which you could draw experience from?
Not in India, no. Abroad, yes. I have faced racial discrimination abroad because ultimately I’m a desi boy. It did happen to be but I’ve had a great time outside India but I have experienced incidences here and there which irk you at times.
Although this film’s story is centred around the caste discrimination issue in India, the audiences around the globe – and more specifically beginning in London – will be watching it. What do you hope ‘Article 15’ achieves?
I want the message to be clear and to reach to as many people as possible. It’s the social responsibility of an artiste to do. It’s like taking something from society and giving back to society again. It mirrors the society of our times. It is beyond commercial success. It should trigger a certain discussion in India and maybe abroad as well related to caste and discrimination.
Do you think it’ll help the kind of message it’s trying to give out, the fact that it’s premiering at a film festival?
Absolutely. Critics from across the globe will be reviewing this film. I’m sure when the audiences see the film, these reviews and articles will affect how it’s viewed after release. It’ll give the film traction before it releases and usher the audiences to watch it.
BizAsiaLive.com would like to thank Ayushmann Khurrana for talking to us.
***’Article 15′ will be have it’s world premiere at the Bagri Foundation London Film Festival on 20th June in London and 21st June in Birmingham and the screenings will be followed by an exclusive Q&A with director Anubhav Sinha. For more on the festival, visit: http://