As the rare Bollywood star who takes on socially conscious roles that also end up scoring big at the box office, .Ayushmann Khurrana is quite the anomaly of tinsel town.

His breakthrough film in 2012, Vicky Donor, cast him as a sperm donor and dealt with infertility. Earlier this year, he became the first mainstream Bollywood actor to play a gay man in a leading role in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Extra Special Wedding)—a comedy with a message on same-sex wedding in a small town.

I believe playing unconventional roles can help bring about progressive change and unite India, which has struggled with social and religious divides, particularly in recent months.

– Ayushmann Khurrana

At a talk event on Wednesday, Khurrana said, “I believe playing unconventional roles can help bring about progressive change and unite India, which has struggled with social and religious divides, particularly in recent months. The country’s 1.3 billion people belong to a variety of religions, with 22 languages recognised in the Constitution and hundreds more indigenous languages. Some two-thirds of the country live in rural areas.
“We have no dearth of taboo subjects or social issues in a country and that provides a lot of fodder for great cinema,” he said.

The 35-year-old star further said it’s not enough to make meaningful films for critics and art-house theaters. “It’s just like preaching to the converted,” he said. Instead, he would rather “show it in a very engaging and an entertaining way so that it reaches the grass-root level.”

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