There was a time when Bollywood was afraid of even talking about certain taboo and uncomfortable subjects, let alone show them in a film. But then came Ayushmann Khurrana, who straight from his first film Vicky Donor with Shoojit Sircar, took the onus on himself to give representation to characters dealing with subjects that were never discussed before, at least not in commercial cinema.
Be it sperm donation in Vicky Donor, erectile dysfunction with Shubh Mangal Saavdhan or LGBTQ+ rights with its sequel, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Ayushmann has taken these uncomfortable topics and made them a subject of family discussions. With his first film as a leading hero, Helmet, even Ayushmann’s brother Aparshakti Khurana seems to be taking this legacy forward.
Helmet deals with the subject of condoms and the film aims to make the discussion around usage of condoms a regular and normal thing in our life. The film’s leading lady is Pranutan Bahl. Ask her why she thinks there is a sudden surge in such socially relevant films tackling taboo subjects, and she says, “I think we have been dealing with taboo subjects for a while now in the industry. I know there was a phase when it wasn’t happening and a lot of similar genre films were coming up. The ’90s were dominated by a similar genre but if you go back to 1963, the film Sujata in which my grandmother played a Harijan, it was a taboo subject in those days.”
Pranutan goes on to credit Ayushmann too for bringing about this change. “Then many years later, Ayushmann sir and Shoojit Da came with Vicky Donor. I feel it is the way you bring such stories forward. If you keep it entertaining and watchable for the audience, that’s what matters,” she asserts.
In recent months, two more films dealing with the subject of condoms have been announced. While Nushrratt Bharuccha’s Janhit Mein Jaari, also featuring Pavail Gulati and directed by Omung Kumar, sees her as a condom sales executive, Rakul Preet Singh has joined hands with Ronnie Screwvala for a film by Tejas Deokar where she essays the role of a condom tester.
Ask Pranutan if she is even a bit apprehensive about the comparisons to follow, and she cuts in, “Comparisons don’t scare me. I am Nutan ji’s granddaughter, so that’s the first comparison I had to deal with. Comparisons don’t deter me from doing what I want to do. If I believe in something, I’ll go the entire haul, and that’s the same thing for a film. Also, Helmet as a script is very new, so no comparison ever came to mind.”
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