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Aparshakti Khurana on Jubilee: ‘I knew that this was going to be something special!’

The actor talks about his relationship with co-star Prosenjit Chatterjee and being directed by Vikramaditya Motwane

Sameer Salunkhe Calcutta Published 01.05.23, 09:51 AM
Aparshakti Khurana

Aparshakti Khurana Instagram

Actor Aparshakti Khurana is soaking up all the love and appreciation he has been receiving for his performance as Binod Das aka Madan Kumar in the Amazon Prime Video series Jubilee. In a freewheeling conversation with us, Aparshakti recently opened up about his role in the Vikramaditya Motwane-helmed period drama, his rapport with Prosenjit Chatterjee and things in between.

How did you feel when you first got to know that you were going to do Jubilee? And what was your feeling after the wrap of the shoot?

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Aparshakti Khurana: When I read the script for the first time, I was blown away by the writing and the layers Atul Sabharwal Sir had created. I knew right away that the series was going to be something special. But I never imagined that we would get so much love and respect from the audience.

It became very emotional on the last day. The set of Jubilee was like a small world and everyone became sad when it was being dismantled after the shoot. For the first time, I saw Vikram Sir (Vikramaditya Motwane) crying. Then it struck home that the whole thing was all coming to an end.

Vinod Das is an intense, grey-shaded character. It’s surely your most demanding role till date. How did Vikramaditya Motwane direct you on this quest?

Aparshakti Khurana: I wasn’t sure at first that I would be able to play the role the way Vikram Sir wanted it. But he has the knack of bringing out the best in actors. There are some actors who have done films with him just to have that paradigm shift in their careers.

While handling actors, a director has to touch a particular nerve to bring out their best performances. Vikram Sir has done that beautifully with all the actors and it is evident in the performances delivered by us. There was no heavy-loaded brief. He just used to tell me simple things like, “Apar, paanch paisa walk slow kar de or dialogue bolne ka pace thoda kam kar de.

What creative need did Jubilee satisfy in you?

Aparshakti Khurana: When it comes to the world of Jubilee, the creative needs of everyone — actors, music directors and production people — attached to the project have been satisfied like never before. That’s a big tick mark on my list. Personally, I found out a very different side of mine. Prior to Jubilee, I had done a couple of serious roles but something was missing in them. The things I learned on the Jubilee set, I didn’t learn anywhere else.

You come across as a jolly good fellow. But Binod Das aka Madan Kumar is cunning. How did you find that cunningness within you?

Aparshakti Khurana: Main waise kamina hoon! (I am cunning that way). Don’t you think? [laughs out loud]. But seriously, Binod Das is a very cunning guy and has a negative streak, which I don’t have in real life. Having said that, we have seen people who can go to any length while hustling to make it happen. We’re familiar with the attitude of a go-getter especially in today’s competitive world.

There were some real-life references and some film references. The desire to become not just an actor but a star is inbuilt in so many of us in a country like India. That also served as an inspiration as well as a reference while playing the character.

Even when he becomes Madan Kumar, Vinod Das is always under the shadow of Srikant Roy (Prosenjit Chatterjee). You were under the shadow of a huge star onscreen and off-screen. How was it working with Prosenjit Chatterjee?

Aparshakti Khurana: I want to give all the credit to Prosenjit sir. Never during workshops or filming did he come across as a massive star with the legend tag on his forehead. He held my hand with a lot of love. Most of my scenes are with him, so we developed good chemistry. I used to touch Prosenjit sir’s feet upon reaching the sets. That’s the personal dynamic I share with him. We developed a relationship of love and respect which really worked for the show as well. Whatever his character says to my character in the show has reflected in my eyes.

Now that you mentioned it, it was clearly visible in your eyes in the scene when Srikant Roy discovers that Binod is going to be Madan Kumar.

Aparshakti Khurana: Yes, even when I was auditioning, I felt like meri aankhon mein sharam hai. I felt embarrassed whether I should say something or not, should I look into his eyes or not. That dilemma or confusion played a huge role in the very random pauses during that audition. Otherwise, you don’t pause like during the course of a regular conversation.

And the shot was okayed in a single take. Vikram Sir kept the fourth take of that shot. I requested him for the fifth but he said he got what he wanted. He said, “Main keh raha hoon mil gaya. Issey achha nahin kar sakta tu.” I was like, “Yeh kaisi beizzati hai?”

Then he asked me why I insisted on doing one more take. I said, “In the fourth take, my nose is runny. I don’t have a problem with a runny nose. I have come to you completely naked as an actor. But the problem that I have is that my eyes are not watery. Naak beh rahi hai, aankh nahin beh rahi.” He replied, “You’re right but I won’t get the pauses that I have got in the fourth take in any other take. They’ve fit correctly.”

I did one more take but he kept the fourth one only. He was very sure about one thing though, that he wanted to use a single take. He didn’t want to cut from one take to another.

One thing that’s as aspirational as a film star himself is his cars. You have driven some cool cars in Jubilee. What’s your favourite car scene in the series and why?

Aparshakti Khurana: Cars are my jaan. Cars were my favourite things on the set. My favourite car scene would be when Prosenjit sir and I are sitting in a convertible moving through a rally celebrating Independence Day on the night of August 14. That car was beautiful and we really enjoyed the scene of celebrating the occasion with champagne. By that time Madan Kumar had become famous.

For any person, the phase when he finally gets success after a long time is very beautiful. You look forward to waking up early in the morning, going to work, going to parties and all other things. And these things happen to very few people in life. That’s why that scene is very special.

What can you tell us about your upcoming projects? Stree 2 is going to be released in August next year, right?

Aparshakti Khurana: I have just finished reading the script of Stree 2. It is scarier and funnier. I’m eager to get back to comedy.

I have done one more film with Vikramaditya Motwane and it is titled Control. I also have Berlin coming up, which is a spy thriller. Atul Sabharwal, who wrote Jubilee, has written and directed Berlin. I play a sign language interpreter in the film. We have just sent the film to a festival. It will be ready for release by the end of the year.

I have done one documentary with Applause Entertainment. It is on Lord Shri Ram’s journey during his exile from Ayodhya to Lanka. I visited all those places that Shri Ram had visited during his exile. I spoke to villagers, priests, historians, and experts, trying to connect the dots to put it all together. It’s a cool infotainment kind of documentary. After acting so much in front of the camera, you just feel like taking a break and just being yourself in front of the camera. So, it was a good break as well as an opportunity to combine work and travel.

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