Muscat: Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana has said that the lead character he plays in his new release ‘Anek’ is starkly different to the ones he has played previously, because of the complexity and subtlety required from the role.
Set in the restive north eastern regions of India, Anek centres around Ayushmann’s character Aman, an undercover Indian agent tasked with bringing peace and eliminating the rebel threat that continues to burden the region.
While his objective is complicated enough, Aman is drawn into a tangled web of political deceit and lies, which makes his tasks far harder to achieve.
“It was not just about physicality and body language: this one was starkly different from my previous films,” he said. “It was also about the empathy, knowing about the North East, empathising with them and whatever they are going through in life.”
Ayushmann’s character befriends local northeasterner Aido, a young woman who has aspirations to one day box for India at the Olympics. While she yearns to represent India, her father, Wangnao, is the leader of a separatist movement that is fighting for the northeast to secede, and become and independent country. Aido is played by Andrea Kevichusa, who is from the north eastern state of Nagaland.
Ayushmann and Andrea, while speaking to Kay of TFM, explained the intricacies of the characters involved, and the importance of the film Anek, directed by Anubhav Sinha, who has to his name other impactful works such as Mulk, Article 15, and Thappad.
“Thanks to Anubhav Sinha sir who did a lot of research on that region. We sailed through, and he’s made a very, very important film,” said Ayushmann. “This is not a typical film: it does not fit the stereotype or prototype of commercial Hindi cinema.”
Andrea added: “It was a great experience, and even stepping into it, I had a lot to learn. I picked up a few things…it was amazing.”
Anek also marks Andrea’s debut, a role for which she was cast when she was just 18. “When I got it, I was pretty hesitant: I was only 18 when I got cast,” she admitted.
“I didn’t know if I was ready to get into the shoes of playing a boxer or an actor, but they said, ‘you’re gonna be crazy if you don’t do this,’ so they were really supportive, and it’s been great,” said Andrea.
Ayushmann, who has previously been to the north east states of Assam, Sikkim and Meghalaya, also said it was great fun to film in the region, and reserved special praise for its people.
“They are very simple and sweet people,” he revealed. “They have a good sense of music, sense of fashion, it is multicultural also, even in the North East: it is not just one entity. Like any other place in the country or the world, we have people everywhere. It is beautiful to see this part of the country, and experience a different side of the country: while shooting it is different, of course, and when you’re travelling, it is different, so it was fun shooting there.”
Given the espionage aspect of the film, both actors couldn’t help but recollect movies and shows from the spy genre that they
“I love thriller and action films,” said Andrea, who counts the character played by Angelina Jolie opposite Brad Pitt in Mr and Mrs Smith as one of her favourites. I love Daniel Craig. There was talk of Idris Elba being the next James Bond – I would have loved that, but I don’t think it is happening.”
Ayushmann added: “I was watching this series where Kate Winslet plays an investigative officer: Mare of East town.”