I Am In­clined To­wards Women Cen­tric Films!

Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY -

The gor­geous AA­HANA KUMRA has surely packed a punch with her pow­er­ful per­for­mance as Leela in the lm Lip­stick Un­der My Burkha. No won­der, she has re­ceived much ku­dos. Cur­rently, she has been en­ter­tain­ing the au­di­ence not only on TV but also lms and now web­series. Read on as the tal­ented ac­tor gets can­did with Shivani Bisht about her ca­reer, lms and more…

Your role in Lip­stick Un­der My Burkha was un­con­ven­tional. How chal­leng­ing was it for you to play that role?

I am glad that you used the word ‘un­con­ven­tional’ and not ‘bold’ be­cause that is usu­ally the word I come across. Well I would not only credit the writer but also the di­rec­tor for writ­ing all the roles in the film in an un­con­ven­tional man­ner. What I found in­ter­est­ing about that part was that it was very close to who we are as girls, there are cer­tain ways in which we pres­sur­ize our­selves but life may not cater to our fancies and may not fol­low our plans be­cause life has its own plans. Also, there are of­ten small re­bel­lions that we may win. Like if my fa­ther tells me, don’t wear

a short skirt and I wear a short skirt and go out or if my mother asks me not to go out at night and I still go out, it’s a big re­bel­lion in my head. It may be a very small re­bel­lion from the per­spec­tive of a vic­tory, but I feel it makes us live our lives the way we want to. My char­ac­ter ap­peared to be in­ter­est­ing as de­spite all the odds, she wanted to live her own life and wanted to be able to see her life in a pos­i­tive light.

Are you in­clined to­wards women cen­tric films?

I am. I think it’s a very good space to be in right now be­cause there are some very in­ter­est­ing roles com­ing up. Ear­lier there weren’t enough roles for women show­ing them in a po­si­tion of power. Hero­ines didn’t have much to do ear­lier. But the good part now is that they have been given equal weigh­tage as men and I think the equa­tions have changed a lot. So there are good parts and it is just about what you iden­tify with.

Amidst your busy sched­ule do you still find time for the­atre?

I do. I have been do­ing the­atre since I was 14, it’s in­ter­est­ing to see what comes on stage after a whole process which starts from the first read­ing to the end re­sult. The process of shap­ing up a script and bring­ing it to life is a great task and I love be­ing a part of it. Also cur­rently, I am a part of a play and I go for the re­hearsals when­ever I can.

You had posted your bikini pic­tures on­line. Did you face any back­lash? How do you deal with body sham­ing?

I did face a lot of back­lash. I read a first few com­ments and there were many mean com­ments like ‘Go to the gym’ and ‘You’re re­ally fat’. I have

I didn’t think that a bikini pho­to­graph of mine would get so many re­ac­tions.”

never con­sid­ered my­self as a fat per­son and have eaten and worn what­ever I’ve wanted to. I didn’t think that a pho­to­graph of mine would get so many re­ac­tions. I didn’t un­der­stand why peo­ple were so mean. It started af­fect­ing me be­cause I ac­tu­ally started ques­tion­ing my­self and my body and I was ask­ing my­self, am I re­ally that fat, should I ques­tion ev­ery food that I eat or any­thing that I put into my body. So I stopped read­ing the com­ments after a point of time and I felt better about it. And I now know that th­ese things hap­pen and I have not let th­ese things af­fect me or come in the way of my work after that.

Can you tell us about your ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in your lat­est web se­ries Ithap­penedin HongKong?

It was per­haps one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve had be­cause my team was fan­tas­tic. We had only two ac­tors, I have never worked in a two ac­tor setup. I have worked where there are mul­ti­ple set­ups and ac­tors around you. So the good thing about this story is that it’s re­volv­ing around two peo­ple and we were the ones who could make it in­ter­est­ing or bor­ing. I had a lot of con­ver­sa­tions with my di­rec­tor about the thought process of my char­ac­ter and I think that has re­ally worked well. Also I have trav­elled a lot, met a lot of peo­ple and so I wanted to make it as real as pos­si­ble and not make it philo­soph­i­cal. I think my ex­pe­ri­ence of the show has been re­ally nice and I think Lak­shya is a re­ally smart di­rec­tor to work with, and I re­ally en­joyed the process.

What makes you give a nod to a project?

If there is noth­ing for me to do in a role, its a no. I def­i­nitely don’t want to sit in a frame and look pretty.

What was that de­ci­sion that turned out to be the turn­ing point of your life?

I think do­ing Lip­stick was a turn­ing point in my life. The de­ci­sion was re­ally big be­cause I was lim­it­ing my­self be­fore that and I was re­ally scared of get­ting stereo­typed. I think women are ei­ther ob­jec­ti­fied or one needs to join se­ri­ous cinema to main­tain their im­age. There’s noth­ing in the mid­dle. They will never tell you that ‘ Ap toh all-rounder ho, ki aap ye bhi kar sakte ho.’ If Ak­shay Ku­mar can do com­edy and can be an ac­tion hero at the same time, it’s okay. He is called an all­rounder be­cause he is a male ac­tor but for a woman to be able to do ev­ery­thing, is not easy. They eas­ily get type casted. And Lip­stick was different and do­ing a role which had chal­leng­ing in­ti­mate scenes and not let­ting that af­fect me made me a stronger ac­tor.

In an in­ter­view you men­tioned about how even talk­ing about sex scenes are awk­ward for you to talk in real life, so were you ner­vous while en­act­ing the scenes?

I was very ner­vous and not sure about if it was go­ing to be well re­ceived. Alankrita threw in a lot of sit­u­a­tions which were not in the script and she was like I feel this is im­por­tant in the film so do it. And I had to be com­fort­able do­ing them. And I think Vikrant, my co-ac­tor was equally ner­vous but it worked well.

How was your ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with Alankrita?

It was quite in­ter­est­ing ac­tu­ally be­cause she is some­body who knows what she wants and if she doesn’t get it, she will ask you to do it like a hun­dred times. She will make sure that she gets her shot right and I think as a lady di­rec­tor this is very in­ter­est­ing be­cause I knew the only thing she cares about dur­ing the shot is for me to get my scene right. And I feel that has made all four of us be 100 per­cent com­fort­able while shoot­ing for the film.

When do you think you will be able to say that you have got your dues as an ac­tor?

I think I will be able to an­swer that when I do enough roles and hope­fully, not the same kind of roles and get parts which I could be proud of.

Can you tell us about your future projects?

I am do­ing a film called The Ac­ci­den­tal Prime Min­is­ter but I am not al­lowed to talk much about it. It’s an in­ter­est­ing part and I am re­ally grate­ful to the mak­ers for con­sid­er­ing me. I am also read­ing more scripts and try­ing to fig­ure out what I want to do next be­cause it’s not easy for a woman who is not from a filmi back­ground in the Hindi film in­dus­try to get roles it you don’t know many pro­duc­ers or direc­tors. But of course, I’m also look­ing at other good roles.

Any mes­sage for your Star­dust read­ers?

Star­dust is now fea­tur­ing a lot more ac­tors and that is very in­ter­est­ing. So thank you so much for sup­port­ing ac­tors like us and I am eter­nally grate­ful to our view­ers to ap­pre­ci­ate us for the kind of work that we are do­ing.

I think women are ei­ther ob­jec­ti­fied or one needs to join se­ri­ous cinema to main­tain their im­age.”

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