Ayushmann Khurrana, star of Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, discusses the dearth of awareness for the trans population in the country and how he first learned about their problems at the age of 13.
Ayushmann Khurrana has carved out a niche in Bollywood by tackling controversial issues. His films have explored a wide range of topics not commonly discussed in the mainstream, from sperm donation to erectile dysfunction. His most recent film, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, is on the trans community’s discrimination and ostracism in society.Ayushmann plays a bodybuilder who realises that his lover (Vani Kapoor) is a trans woman in the Abhishek Kapoor-directed film. The actor lamented the dearth of understanding of the trans population in the country in an interview with Film Companion’s Anupama Chopra, and told how he first came to know and understand them when he was just 13 years old.
He said, “Though I belong to a conservative family, my parents were progressive. In the mid-90s, there were two girls in a hostel, who came to my father. One of them wanted to undergo this operation and become a guy ”. Ayushmann went on to say that his father recommended a gynaecologist to the couple, but that individual turned them down since they were ‘going against nature.’ Finally, Ayushmann’s father suggested that the pair travel to a larger city, so they travelled to Mumbai and completed the operation successfully. “They’ve been married for almost 20-25 years now,” he stated.
Ayushmann further on his initial encounter with the trans community. He further added, “So, I knew about the trans community when I was 13. It was a great induction for me. Though I was also shocked ki aise thode hi hota hai papa (That’s now how things are). My father also didn’t know that there would be an operation and it would be successful. That was the first eye-opener for me that this community exists and thinks this way.” The National Award winner added that though he had been empathetic towards the community since childhood, he had to grow and evolve over the years. “Empathy was always there since childhood. But it takes time. We have grown a lot. We are learning every day”.
When asked about his personal development, Ayushmann recalls turning down a gig invitation from the LGBT community when he was in college in Chandigarh. He continued ,“In college, there was this gay community who invited me and I just said no. But there was no malice for them. There was fear ki pata nahi mere saath kya karenge (I was scared about what they will do to me), I am a straight guy. I just said with all due respect I can’t come. But I was not shunning them.”