In Section 375, Akshaye Khanna will be seen defending an alleged rapist. Insisting there is more to the world than good and bad, the actor asks us to look at life in totality.
Q: You were on a hiatus from 201216. Was it because of a lack of good roles or was it a self-imposed break? It was a combination of a few personal issues, and not getting the work I really wanted, something I have grappled with a lot in my career. Before Dil Chahta Hai, I had a spell too. Hopefully it’s the last hiatus.
You returned in 2017 with two thrillers—Mom and Ittefaq—in which you played a police officer...
Coming back to work after such a long period, I wanted to approach it as starting from scratch. They were smaller parts in terms of length, but not in quality. It was a deliberate choice to start with effective roles, which I knew would get me noticed, but the larger responsibility was not mine. After The Accidental Prime Minister and Section 375, I’m in a very good space.
The Accidental Prime Minister didn’t
fare well at the box office…
I was proud that it was the first-of-itskind political film to be made in Hindi cinema. You may or may not have liked it, or been indifferent to it, but it was an honest film for me. It was perceived to be propaganda because of the timing of the release and of the talent attached to the film, who were perceived to be a part of a political ideology. It was absolutely not. The factors went against the film.
In Section 375, you play a lawyer who is defending an alleged rapist. How challenging was it to play a man who can be labelled a villain?
One should not approach a character on how people are going to think about it. Morality is very subjective. Whether it is Ajmal Kasab or the rapists of Nirbhaya, they all were legally represented. There’s never only good and bad in the world. Life has to exist in totality.
How essential is the film in the wake of the #MeToo movement in India?
It is a slightly lesser talked about aspect of the debate on rape in India, which is misusing the law in a way it was never intended to. The fact of the matter is, people are constantly finding ways to go around several laws. We are talking about just one. ■
—with Suhani Singh
AKSHAYE KHANNA wanted to emerge from his hiatus with smaller, yet significant, roles that would get him noticed
Akshaye Khanna with co-star Richa Chadha in a still from Section 375