‘Men are so boring to watch after a point of time,’ says Aahana Kumra, all set to be seen as Priyanka Gandhi this winter

The girl we loved as the spunky Leela in Lipstick Under My Burkha will be back on the big screen as Priyanka Gandhi in the December release The Accidental Prime Minister, directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte. A t2 chat with Aahana Kumra...  

By Ushnota Paul
  • Published 6.09.18

The girl we loved as the spunky Leela in Lipstick Under My Burkha will be back on the big screen as Priyanka Gandhi in the December release The Accidental Prime Minister, directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte. A t2 chat with Aahana Kumra...

Aahana as Priyanka Gandhi in The Accidental Prime Minister

How did you prepare to play Priyanka Gandhi in The Accidental Prime Minister?

I have definitely worked very hard on it by watching all the YouTube videos (featuring her), along with taking insights from my director.

You recently worked back-to-back with Amol Parashar (of TVF Tripling fame) in two web series — It Happened In Hong Kong and Ready 2 Mingle. How was the experience?

Amol and I didn’t know each other well before It Happened In Hong Kong. Through the course of the show, we hit it off really well. We talked about our families. We have a great working relationship — it’s easy to work with Amol, he gets what you’re trying to say.

Aahana as Leela in Lipstick Under My Burkha 

You’ve worked in both films and web series. Which format do you enjoy more?

A film set is more well-behaved. In Lipstick Under My Burkha, we were shooting in real locations all over Bhopal, so it’s not like it was always very organised. It had a lot more intimate scenes but since the director was a female (Alankrita Shrivastava), it didn’t look vulgar. If it was made by a male director, it’d have been a different movie altogether! She understands that it’s weird. Actors are very brave people because we are thrown into a situation and asked to shed clothes. It’s awkward for every human being, not just women. I’ve seen men who are awkward but I’ve become such a pro I’m like ‘kaha hain ladka, le kar aao!’ (Laughs) So, film sets. 

Did you always want to be an actor while growing up? 

I grew up in a Punjabi household in Lucknow. My sister is a year older than me and excelled in everything. I never set foot on stage because she stole my thunder from everything all our lives. She was the best at everything and I was the worst at everything. When I was 13, I moved to Mumbai to study and I was lucky that she moved to Dehradun. That’s the first time we were separated. That’s when I started participating in everything in school. My friends and I joined Prithvi Theatre for a summer-time workshop. I was fascinated with what I saw. I did Neeraj Kabi’s workshop and from then on, there was no looking back. 

Who was your favourite actor and actress while growing up?

Amitabh Bachchan. I think I used to watch only his films. Satte Pe Satta and Khuda Gawah are my favourite films of Mr Bachchan and I’ve even told him that. I was obsessed with those two movies. I used to also love watching Disney animation movies with strong female characters. Pocahontas and Mulan have been my greatest influences. I’m a huge animation fan. Men are so boring to watch after a point of time. 

Who’s your closest friend from the industry?

He’s somebody I look up to, really appreciate and worship. He’s Naseeruddin Shah. He’s the closest to me from the industry.

What’s next for you?

The Accidental Prime Minister is slated to release on December 21. I also worked in Sanjoy Nag’s movie Yours Truly that’s been selected for the Busan International Film Festival this October. 


Your favourite travel destination?

Japan, because it’s very fashion forward. 

What sort of a traveller are you — a backpacker, a planner or the one who carries two suitcases for a few days of holiday?

I’d never say I’m a backpacker. I’m a planner who carries two suitcases. I just never travel light. 

Your funniest travel memory?

My first solo trip to Japan. I finished immigration in five minutes and was out of the airport in 10 minutes. And then I bumped into a Sikh Japanese man who didn’t speak Punjabi, Hindi or English. He only spoke Japanese. That was really bizarre!


What’s your idea of a perfect date?

The food should be really good. And I should have something to talk about. That person shouldn’t be all full of himself.

Could you date someone if they had a terrible sense of fashion?  

Well, you can always change that sense. 

What turns you on in a man?

His honesty. His ability to make interesting conversation and keep me interested throughout. I’m a zoner, I zone out easily. 


What’s your personal style?

To keep it very simple. It would ideally be a pair of shorts with flip-flops and a T-shirt. 

A silly fashion trend...

Dungarees! I can’t stand them. I don’t know why they were made.

Three well-dressed celebrities...

Kate Middleton, Gigi Hadid and Emma Stone. I also love the Turkish actor Burak Deniz; he keeps it cool and simple. 

One celeb whose wardrobe you want to steal...

Gigi Hadid.

A vintage fashion trend that should make a comeback...

I always like a lot of colour and I think that the ’70s colourful, hippie look should come back. 

Your daily skin and hair care routine...

I like to keep my scalp and skin very clean. I drink a lot of water. I work out. And I make sure that I wear my MUJI night cream before going off to sleep after taking my make-up off.

Which country or city is the most fashionable in the world?  

Paris is really fashionable. I’ve never been to Milan but I’ve seen how beautiful it is. And ofcourse, Japan — it’s very fashion forward. People are always well-dressed there.

If you were an article of clothing, you would be...

A pair of shorts because I like wearing it, so I’ll probably wear myself!


What kind of music do you like listening to?

I listen to a lot of Charlie Puth these days; he’s pretty fantastic.

If we hack into your phone, which would be the most-played songs?

Call Out My Name (The Weeknd), We Don’t Talk Anymore (Charlie Puth) and probably some Punjabi song. I like Punjabi music. 


Role from your work: Leela in Lipstick Under My Burkha and Taruni in Yudh. 

Indian web series: Tripling and Official Chukyagiri.

American TV show: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.