Interview: Aahana Kumra

She’s got a sharp mind, a bold personality and jaw-dropping looks. As we all know, Aahana Kumra was the judge for Mr. & Ms. Waves 2017. DoJMA caught up with the actress to get a glimpse of the lipstick under her burkha.

DoJMA: Who was young Aahana’s inspiration and why so?
Aahana: I grew up in Lucknow, and my love for the world of films began right when I was a young girl. I’d come back from school and start watching movies immediately. They’d usually be Disney movies, or films starring Amitabh Bachchan. I think I’ve watched all of his films till date. And so, my inspiration in my life would be my mother and Mr. Bachchan.

DoJMA: You’ve done a wide variety of work, be it web series, short films or feature films. So given a choice now, would you prefer web series over feature films?
Aahana: Feature films involve seeing yourself on the huge silver screen. Hence it would be unfair to say that I would not like to see myself on the big screen. But having said that, I know that the face of web has completely changed and has challenged our filmmakers in India. Today, the young generation prefers solid content over “Thumkas” and love scenes. Web has some interesting content and I will always be superlatively grateful to the person who started this concept. The web has introduced new actors to the film industry as well.

DoJMA: So do you think the digital media can actually take over the film world as it exists today?
Aahana: Well, it already has. It’s a long wait when it comes to films, waiting for the perfect role, the perfect script. You constantly need to look pretty and glamourous when it comes to the film world. Whereas web just demands a good actor out of you. Indian film industry is constantly compared to the west so the web that has amazing content poses a threat to the current filmmakers. Thus web has the potential to shake the existing foundation of cinema.

DoJMA: You’ve worked with established actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah. Tells us about it.
Aahana: Amitabh Bachchan is my inspiration, and working with him was an out of the world experience. He’s very evolved as an actor and a person, and he doesn’t make you feel intimidated or alien on set. He’s always looking for lessons he can take from artistes and for what he can give back to them. Despite his busy schedule, he takes out time for his co-stars and interacts with them, shares lessons and anecdotes, discusses the script and the ideas; and that professionalism has to be saluted. Naseer sir is my teacher, and I first learnt acting from him. I’ve been associated with him and his theatre company Motleysince 2006. In fact, I’m doing a play with him even now, called ‘The Father’. Whatever I have learnt is from him, and I feel blessed for it.

DoJMA: What do you think is the scenario of women when it comes to cinema today? How do you weigh it with the past, and how far does it have to go?
Aahana: We have miles to go before I sleep. It’s a patriarchal society which takes a lot of time to accept the fact that women can portray the same role as men. People feel that women are not apt for jobs like being the CEO of a company unless you cut your hair and look like a man. The society has the impression that a pretty woman with long hair and a cute face can’t possible run an organisation. Thus I feel that the role of women in every profession is slowly steadily changing. Basic amenities weren’t offered to women in offices for the longest period. They weren’t even allowed to work at the first place. But slowly women have started tackling that problem. So these discussions are happening now, and I feel that it’s a global phenomenon. The acceptance may take a while but the beginning has surely happened.

DoJMA: How much has your theatrical career impacted your cinematic career?
Aahana: Anything I know has come from my knowledge of theatre. Stage in contrast to cinema doesn’t give you a second chance. Theatre is a one take game. It has taught me a lot about life and coping with it as well. It has given me the ability of incorporating all relevant aspects of the scene in one go, instead of doing multiple retakes. Theatre and life teach you how to move on, and that lesson will stay with me to my grave.

DoJMA: Given a chance, what is the one thing that you would like to change about the film industry?
Aahana: There are lots of things that I’d like to chance. The first being Nepotism. A lot of talented people don’t get the opportunity because of the film family kids. The parents also are only trying to push their children to give them the big break. If given the opportunity, I would ask those kids to come out and stand in the same line as us and undergo the same tests as we do because we get judged day in and day out. Whereas for the celebrity kids, it’s a cakewalk, because of their parents.  Secondly, I would like if women were offered better and more performance oriented roles as opposed to those that just require for them to look pretty. Finally, I would like to ask the film industry to work on it’s content.

DoJMA: Did you have any apprehension before taking up films which touch slightly tabooed topics, like Lipstick Under My Burkha and The Blueberry Hunt?
Aahana: Well, I don’t worry too much about this actually. If the scripts appeals to me, I do the film. When Lipstick Under My Burkha came to me, I absolutely loved the script. The content was so fresh and new, and I knew that this is a golden opportunity for me. Moreover, it was all about women and their stories, which immediately connected with me. This role was very performance-centric, so I thought it’ll be a wonderful laurel in my career.