The last time I spoke with Anshuman was when his debut film Love Sex Aur Dhoka or LSD was released. His excitement, energy level and passion for work were to be seen to be believed. After two more films, he was last seen in Yeh Hai Bakrapur, which released recently. He plays the lead role in the film, directed by Janaki Vishwanathan, which is a political satire on how a simple thing can become a complex issue in India. Anshuman reveals, “It tells you of how in a country, we make an issue out of a small things and how things gets sidelines in a cheeky way. The film looks at issues in a light-hearted manner.” Anshuman plays the role of a lover who is in love with his friend’s elder sister. The friend happens to be a young kid. “It is a typical love story which is pure and can be felt. My character’s name is Jaffer who is a hairstylist and knows how things can work in his life.”
Social satire intrigues a few of us, but the chances of it being understood by one and all, in urban India as well as rural, looks fishy. For Anshuman, this was one of few scripts in the list of scripts which he read and felt that it should be made and seen by all. “I believe cinema has to be entertaining. This one keeps you in splits. It is not your typical rural script. It has elements which are universal. It has politics, religion and the characters are modern ones. My character is liberal one who has seen things. We have left no stone unturned to release. We have gone to festivals where we have received full houses. It appealed to all.” He has full praise for the director. And shooting for was a completely family affair for Anshuman. “We were shooting near the Maharashtra border, near Bidar. While shooting, we had a family atmosphere. We would sit and eat together. In the village, a house was given for all of us to stay and the kids around had become our friends. We would play cricket. In terms of cast, all came from the same school of acting and approach.”
As said earlier, this is Anshuman’s fourth film after LSD. Kismat Love Paisa Delhi came and went and then came Boyss Toh Boyss Hai. Both the films got him good reviews but they sank without trace. “After LSD, I was busy with theatre. I went abroad for a while, with my play. Some say it was stupid for me to leave, but I don’t think so. Theatre helped me greatly. Some films did not excite me. I should better myself. When Sanjay Khanduri came to me with Kismat Love…, I had loved his first film, Ek Chaalis Ki Last Local. I did not read the script and said yes. They were well written roles. I got to do all kinds of things like action. For my next film, all things were exciting. But it got delayed and it did not come out as expected.”
Advertisements are what kept him in spotlight. The Tata Sky advertisement which he did for a year kept him in news. “I decided to get stock of things. Due to theatre, I could not do films. So I decided to not do theatre for some time. Films came my way and in 20 months time, films are slotted for release. I am thankful for the kind of films I am doing. Amitabh Bachchan said to me that whichever film you get, you should be exceptional.” He will be seen next in a play by noted playwright Jamini Pathak which is opening this month. But films are still on the card.
LSD also saw another actor make a bang with Anshuman, Rajkummar Rao who has recently won the National Award for Shahid. Afterwards, many new faces have emerged on the film horizon. Anshuman feels that it is a lucky time for all of them. “For actors working these days, different films are made, especially conflict driven films. Such films demand faces to fit the content. A lot of actors will keep doing work they want. It is the choice which makes the actor. I choose not to do such roles like best friends, etc, only if they are good, will do. In Queen, Lisa Haydon’s character was well-written and she did a fantastic job. But she did not get slotted. It is open field and all have opportunities.”
Coming to his role and film at the end, Anshuman explains that one will see his character’s friendship with a nine-year-old kid and a goat. This will endear the film with the kids. “The love story will appeal to the youth. Since it takes a dig at everything, it will appeal to the older generation. It is an entertaining film with an animal as protagonist.” A different film like Yeh Hai Bakrapur and actor like Anshuman Jha works for us.