It’s interesting to see how some of Gajraj Rao’s recent films — Maja Ma, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Made in China — were all social comedies, a genre championed by his frequent co-star Ayushmann Khurrana.
The Dungarpur-born actor says that whenever light film scripts with an underlying message reach him, he often wonders how Khurrana, his co-star from Badhaai Ho and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhanwould think about it.
“Routine life is boring. We should try to make films that break out of this routine. I’m lucky that films like Black Friday, Bandit Queen, Talvarand Amir came my way. But post Badhaai HoAyushmann as a creative person inspires me a lot.
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“I might be a bit older than him in terms of age and experience, but… every time a script like this (social comedy) comes to me, I wonder how Ayushmann would visualize this one. or what he will do with it. It’s very inspiring,” Rao said. PTI in a virtual interview.
The actor further praised Khurrana for continuing on the “road less travelled”. “He can easily go and do romantic comedies. But he takes risks in every project. He knows that not all of his films will be super successful. There will be stories that will not reach people, that they will not may not accept them. . But he’s not changing his path,” he added.
Rao’s next Hindi movie Thai massagein which he plays a lonely 70-year-old man living in a small town, is yet another film that fits into the social comedy genre.
Billed as a family entertainer set in Ujjain and Thailand, the film presents the heartwarming story of a traditional man named Atmaram Dubey (Rao) in the twilight of his life dealing with erectile dysfunction.
Rao said Hadawale, winner of several national awards, known for Marathi film Tingyaapproached him for the film.
“I watched his movie Tingya and I was very impressed with his work. He is a remarkable screenwriter and director. It’s a progressive story, not your usual formula movie in terms of story.”
The actor said his character is a man who has the courage to go on a trip to Thailand to fulfill his wishes after spending his whole life repressing his desires.
“Atmaram Dubey spent his whole life caring for others. He never did anything for himself. His wife was bedridden for about two decades before she passed away. He is a simple man… – one-year-old man from a small town.”
Also a theater actor and commercial filmmaker, Rao has credited audiences with making “room” for films like Thai massage and 2018 Badhaai Howhich saw a middle-aged couple (Neena Gupta and Rao) struggle with the social stigma of an unplanned pregnancy.
“We are able to do such stories because the public accepts them. They give space to these films. In the case of Thai massageI’m glad to see that people aren’t scoffing at the idea of the story or running away from it,” he added.
For a very long time, Rao said the public used to believe the cliché that “you have to do things that suit your age”, but the trend is changing.
“We’ve always looked at age like that and that’s how we put older people in a mold. In other parts of the world things are different. Now even the youngest members of the public want to see a change, especially because they are exposed to the content world.
“They also expect India to do different stories. The entertainment industry is changing. Whether people agree with (the story) or not is secondary. But accepting it can also happen and I agree with it, it’s different. It’s promising trend,” the actor said.
Also starring Divyenndu Sharma, Sunny Hinduja, Rajpal Yadav, Vibha Chibber and Russian actor Alina Zasobina, Thai massage is set to hit screens on November 11.
The film is produced by Imtiaz Ali, T-Series Films and Reliance Entertainment.
Rao will next be seen in Badhaai Ho sports drama from director Amit Sharma Maidaanheadlined by Ajay Devgn, and Kartik star Aaryan-Kiara Advani Satyaprem Ki Katha for which he is currently filming in Ahmedabad.