Aparshakti Khurana talks films, cricket, and turning setbacks into stepping stones

Aparshakti Khurana is on a roll. The actor is gearing up for the release of his first movie as the lead. Titled Helmet, it is a quirky comedy that brings forth India’s awkward relationship with condoms and the idea of sex. The film will see him pair up with Pranutan Bahl. He has also started shooting for a yet-to-be-titled suspense thriller with R Madhavan. Apart from this, he has also announced his digital debut. Helmed by Vikramaditya Motwane, the web series titled Stardust, will see Aparshakti play a superstar. The series is a fictional take on the Hindi film industry of yore and is expected to go on floors around March or April. We caught up with the busy actor in-between shoots. Excerpts from the tête-à-tête:

Tell us about Helmet!

The first quality of Helmet would be it has no reference point. You won’t end up saying ‘arre yaar! Yeh maine aise do filmo mein dekha hai!”. Number two, it has a very awkward humour…it will make you have fun, laugh out loud, and also it will leave you with a social message to ponder over.

A major plot point is that in today’s age as well it’s been difficult for people to go and ask for a pack of condoms at medical stores even in cities like Delhi and Mumbai, forget the smaller cities and towns. Having said that a film that is continuously talking about condoms has an interesting backdrop and it builds on situations that happen in day-to-day life between a boyfriend and a girlfriend and friends. It is a very situational comedy and has a really good message at the end without being too preachy about it.

I think it does set the tone right and I am hoping the love and respect I have got as a supporting actor, I will get as much love as a lead actor.

The release of the film got delayed due to the Covid situation. So, when are we finally going to see it?

Most likely it’s going to happen on OTT; unless something drastically changes in terms of cinema viewing then may be theatrical but most likely we are going OTT in the first quarter itself.

How do you see the shift going from watching movies in single theatre to today? Also, how has your movie viewing changed now that you are an actor?

There is a huge shift in the way we make films, so that makes me really happy that we are getting better content now. But yeah, in those days the craze was little different because you were not a part of the fraternity, you had no idea about the lighting, the camera, and this and that. So, you watch films a little differently.

Those single screens were a little more… I don’t know a better word for it…maybe ‘festive’. With multiplexes, the seats and the sound got better but ‘yaar woh single screen mei jaake when I was watching Laagan… Woh seat ke upar khadha hoke taliya marna…it was like hum stadium mei match dekh rahe hai! (that getting up on the seats and clapping felt like as if we were at the stadium watching a match). I never felt that in a multi-screen hall. And when you are a kid you are such an enthu cutlet [smiles] you have that innocence and energy in you, just go and be a part of that world. Now you are aware and more intelligent. Now, you are an intelligent audience.

There is a huge shift in the way we make films, so that makes me really happy that we are getting better content now.

But what kept you off OTT content for so long?

Maybe the right offer! In fact, I have a huge audience in me for OTT, I love what they do. Moreover, good content will shine on any platform. I am not that guy who is here to become a hero, who differentiates between films and television and OTT and radio and this and that; rather I am a radio guy first and radio is still my first love. So, I can’t discriminate as an artiste and am really really looking forward to doing this on OTT.

In fact, you are multi-talented. You also hosted a cool show on cricket. You are also into writing and music…

There is this thing about being called ‘multi-talented’... there are enough talented people, but hard work will always overtake talent. I think when I was playing cricket the hard-working guys around me overtook my talent. So, yeah that’s the question to that statement. Yeah! What did you say after that?

Yes, was there any one incident that led you to Bollywood?

Yeah, may be my shift from the Delhi High Court to Radio Station, that decision I think changed my life completely. There has not been a single day that I regret that decision; I never had a dull moment after that. So, yeah! That decision just changed my life.

In fact, you played cricket and you were a practicing lawyer at the Delhi High Court, so what made you leave those?

I did not leave cricket, cricket left me, I got rejected there, I got rejected at the Delhi High Court, thankfully there is something else that I can perform and it was radio by chance. That’s how the creative journey started… from there to theatre to music to hosting to acting. So, I mean yeah, it was just that I was a misfit there at High Court and I was not working hard enough during my cricketing days. But that’s what got me here, in my happiest space.

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