Aparshakti Khurana’s performance in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Jubilee was a game changer for him. After several years playing the second lead role, he now takes on the role of the main protagonist of the series which pays homage to the golden age of Hindi cinema. In an exclusive chat with News18 Showsha, actor Aparshakti Khurana opens up about recognition for playing aspiring actor Binod Das in Jubilee and what Ranveer Singh sent him after watching the acclaimed series. Excerpts:
Jubilee reminds us that behind the scenes in showbiz isn’t quite as idyllic as it looks on the big screen. Speaking of the same thing today, how would you describe it?
It is enormous. People don’t realize the effort it takes to make a movie or even to become an actor for that matter. We live in a time when some of the public are busy following the “Boycott Bollywood” trend on social media and debating southern vs Bollywood films. Sab ‘bhedh chaal’ mein ek hee baat keh rahe hai. They look at the benefits of the actors and not the hard work. I am heartbroken at this. People tend to see only the greatness and not the goodness. They snub the hard work of the writer, director, actor, crew, and everyone else. I see established people like Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Vikramaditya Motwane working so hard, all because of the passion they have for their work.
Jubilee is mounted on a grand scale. His larger-than-life tales set in the late 1940s and 1950s are often riddled with risk. It’s either a success or a failure. Did you think before giving your nod to the show?
The script won me over. For a very long time, I couldn’t believe that such a detailed and layered account had reached me. There were times when I was blown away by amazing writing. I remember watching Andhadhun and Paatal Lok and asking the respective screenwriters for their scripts just to understand how the movie or series turned out the way it did.
As for the risk, I want to thank Amazon Prime Video and Vikramaditya Motwane for the faith they showed in the story. It’s such an expensive show. Putting so much money on newbie actors like me is indeed a big risk. I’m sure there was someone thinking ‘Inke upar paise laga rahe ho? Dimag kharab ho gaya hain kya?’. But the condemnation fell. Kisine toh kaha hoga unke office mein ke mera ‘Binod’ kar lega! I hope this paves the way for more newcomers – and that talented artists on OTT platforms get the respect and love they rightly deserve.
You’ve been in films like Stree, Luka Chuppi and Patni Patni Aur Woh. Do you think it was Jubilee who tapped into your full potential as an actor?
Yes. But, that said, every actor works hard in the projects they do. But unless it reaches the intended target audience, it makes little to no difference. Content could be king, but it’s important to consider how it will be distributed and who it will resonate with, otherwise there won’t be as many unwatched movies on OTT platforms. Yes, I haven’t had such a well-engraved role until now. But, as an artist, I’m not someone who is constantly looking for more. I appreciate what happens to me and I never want to become complacent. I don’t put pressure on myself. I simply pray to the universe to help me wisely absorb the love and appreciation I receive. I worked as an actor for 7 years and today it’s so heartwarming to wake up to congratulatory texts from artists I admire, like Ranveer Singh.
Your character in Jubilee starts at ground level and hopes to succeed in showbiz. Did you, at any time during filming, draw parallels between your film and real life? Did it elicit a sense of having been done?
Of course I did. You derive your motivation from these stories. Playing Madan Kumar was not difficult. It’s common for every aspiring actor to stand in front of a mirror and wonder if he was going to become famous, drive a fancy car, and put on fancy suits. As they try to embody the essence of a character, they must also strive to find common ground with difficult roles, like the character of Binod. He was not at all an easy character to play. My favorite scene in the series is where the character in the library, Sharmaji, says he’s never seen someone of Binod’s stature become a star.
I originally joined a channel as a costume designer and surreptitiously auditioned from time to time. Then I was selected and became a host on the same channel. It was beautiful to retrace a similar journey through Jubilee and relive the same emotions I felt at 22.
Given that your brother Ayushmann is a famous star with an enviable repertoire of work in his kitty, are comparisons inevitable? How do you manage this?
Honestly, I never had to deal with it. I don’t think anyone compares us as actors. When you start your career with a 5 minute role and progress, the credit goes solely to the audience. They liked what they saw and that’s why you are here. Actor banna humare haath mein hai. Public banana star ke haath mein hai. This is a rare scene ke dono bhaiyon ko pyaar mil raha hai. I feel blessed.
What was Ayushmann’s reaction to the accolades you received for your role in Jubilee?
He’s a proud brother! After the screening, he gave a big hug. I remember when Dangal arrived, he said to me: ‘Yeh tuney apne aap kiya hai aur yeh mujhe pata hai.’ This statement has stayed with me to this day. As an artist, I first need validation from my family and my fraternity. And then the audience. We are both lucky to be part of the same brotherhood and to be able to do the kind of cinema that we do.
Rohit Shetty had said that the Ram Lakhan remake couldn’t happen because two male stars apparently didn’t want to work together. Jubilee boasts an ensemble cast. Have you ever found yourself vying for screen time and more prominence?
It didn’t cross my mind. I just wanted to be a part of the beautiful world of Jubilee, whatever title Vikram sir thought fit. But Mr. Rohit is right. He may have been referring to the “stars” of the industry. It’s unfortunate but true. I keep praying that even if I become a bigger star one day, I’ll be able to handle a storyline for its fair value. You have to let the director and the screenwriter decide what you do in a film. It’s a problem if you think you’re bigger than the script.
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