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Gajraj Rao on social comedies: I often wonder how Ayushmann visualises such stories

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (PTI): It’s interesting 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 whenever scripts of light-hearted films with an underlying message come his way, he often wonders how Khurrana, his co-star from “Badhaai Ho” and “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan”, would think about it.
“Routine life is boring. One should try to do films that are away from that routine. I’m fortunate that films like ‘Black Friday’, ‘Bandit Queen’, ‘Talvar’, and ‘Aamir’ came my way. But post ‘Badhaai Ho’, Ayushmann as a creative person inspires me a lot.
“I may be a bit senior to him in terms of age and experience, but… whenever a script like this (social comedy) comes to me, I wonder how Ayushmann would visualise this one or what he will do with it. It’s very inspirational,” Rao told PTI in a virtual interview.
The actor further praised Khurrana for continuing down the “road less travelled”.
“He can easily go and do rom-coms. But he takes risks in every project. He knows that not every film of his will be super successful. There will be some stories that will not reach people, that they will perhaps not accept them. But he is not changing his path,” he added. Rao’s upcoming Hindi film “Thai Massage”, in which he plays a lonely 70-year-old man living in a small town, is yet another movie that falls in the space of social comedy genre.
Billed as a family entertainer set in Ujjain and Thailand, the movie presents the heartwarming tale of a traditional man named Atmaram Dubey (Rao) in the dusk of his life facing erectile dysfunction.
Rao said multiple National Award winner Hadawale, known for the Marathi film “Tingya”, approached him for the movie.
“I had watched his film ‘Tingya’ and I was very impressed with his work. He is a remarkable writer and director. This is a progressive story, not your regular formula film in terms of the story.”
The actor said his character is a man who musters the courage to go on a journey to Thailand to fulfil his wishes after spending his whole life repressing his desires.
“Atmaram Dubey spent all his life taking care of others. He never did anything for himself. His wife was bedridden for about two decades before she passed away. He is a simple man… This is the story of the loneliness of a 70-year-old man who hails from a small town.”
Also a theatre actor and an ad-filmmaker, Rao credited the audience for making “space” for films like “Thai Massage” and 2018’s “Badhaai Ho”, which saw a middle-aged couple (Neena Gupta and Rao) tackle the social stigma of an unplanned pregnancy.
“We are able to make such stories because the audience is accepting them. They are giving space to these movies. In the case of ‘Thai Massage’, I am happy to see that people are neither making fun of the story idea nor shying away from it,” he added.

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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