Actor Ayushmann Khurrana defied societal norms when he made his debut with the 2012 film, Vicky Donor, which was about sperm donation. Now, he’s gearing for his upcoming film, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, which highlights the issue of erectile dysfunction — again, a topic that most Indians would confine to the walls of their bedroom.
While there are still a few days left for the film’s makers to show the final product to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC; informally known as Censor Board), Ayushmann feels that Pahlaj Nihalani’s ouster as the chairman of the board couldn’t have been more timely.
“The timing is so bang on! This transition has been nothing less than a blessing because our film is on a taboo subject and we weren’t sure how censorship would turn out to be. Things were different when Vicky Donor released in 2012 [when Leela Samson was serving as the CBFC chief]. We didn’t face any cuts back then, and I am so glad that it’s going to be completely different even now with Shubh Mangal Saavdhan,” says the actor.
Ayushman adds that having “industry insiders” such as Prasoon Joshi and Vidya Balan on the CBFC panel will change things for good. “Having them on board is indeed a welcome change. With them, we can definitely be more quirky and edgy. They will support real art without unnecessarily cutting things... Prasoon Joshi comes from modern sensibilities. He has been one of the noted lyricists of the country and a pioneer in the ad world and films. So, he will certainly be more progressive when it comes to censorship,” says Ayushmann, whose rom-com film Bareilly Ki Barfi releases on August 18.
The 32-year-old isn’t against scrutiny, and says that it’s vital in a country like India where people easily take offence. It’s also a part of Censor Board chief’s responsibility. “Ours is a very sensitive nation, and we have to take care of a lot of things. We only look at the urban India, which is only the 30% of the country. The rest 70% is primary sector that we need to be sensitive towards with certain communities and mindsets. So we have to tread a middle path even if we don’t want to,” says Ayushmann, adding that, “To bring that change, you need to make them progressive in a subtle way. You can’t suddenly go gung ho about a film.”