Let’s go behind the lens

Let’s go behind the lens

A quick chat with film-maker Akarsh Khurana

Akarsh Khurana

Though he is the son of veteran actor and theatre powerhouse Akash Khurana, he is extremely unlike the star kids of today. Film-maker and scriptwriter Akarsh Khurana likes to keep things low-key and let his work do the talking. However, he admits that his father’s involvement with theatre pushed him and his brother towards cinema. “The environment at home was such that we developed a love for cinema. I was writing because my father was writing,” he recalls.

Also involved with theatre from a young age, Akarsh acted on stage as a child and started directing plays during his college days. He would often take part in various inter-collegiate festivals including ‘Thespo’, where he won the Best Director Award twice. “Soon, I started writing films and became part of the team of Krissh,” he recalls.

Impressed by his skills during the making of the film, director Rakesh Roshan even went on to take Akarsh as one of the assistant directors. “I continued as a writer and worked on films like U Me Aur Hum and Kites, thanks to which I met director Anurag Basu. With him, I worked on the television film Real FM,” he adds. He also wrote the dialogues of hit films like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and 2 States.

Clearly well-versed with all aspects of film-making, Akarsh is now all set to debut in Bollywood as a director. His first film High Jack has been arousing people’s curiosity for its unique trailer. “Though I have made films like Real FM and Boygiri, this is my first Bollywood film as a director. I worked with a group of writers on it and the idea came to us around two years ago. My brother, who was working with Phantom Films, told me to take it up and it went on to become my first full-length feature film.”

Described as a trippy, stoner comedy, High Jack stars digital sensation Sumeet Vyas, known for his work in web series like Permanent Roommates and Triplings. “Sumeet plays Rakesh, a man who is going through some crisis and agrees to carry certain banned things in the plane. At the same time, there is also a group of four people with their own personal problems who hijack the plane. Rakesh and this group get into each other’s way and there is a series of comical events. The humour lies in the fact that everyone is trying to do the right thing,” says Akarsh.

One of his favourite parts of his job is collaborating with people that he likes and in this case, it was teaming up with his good friend and colleague Sumeet. “I have known Sumeet for over a decade now. We have worked together in theatre and on the series Triplings. When I sent the script to him to get his opinion, he showed an interest to act in it. As soon as he said yes, things moved forward,” he says.

The director is also busy with Karwan which marks the Bollywood debut of Malayalam superstar Dulquer Salmaan. The movie, also starring Irrfan Khan and yet another web superstar Mithila Palkar, is about a road trip taken by the characters across South India and looks fresh and promising. “We shot it in places like Kochi and Ooty, and it was really a wonderful experience working with senior actors like Irrfan and Dulquer.”

Having worked on popular web series like Bang Baaja Baraat, Triplings and Permanent Roommates, Akarsh has been on the forefront of movies, theatre, and now the digital medium. When asked about his favourite, he says he loves them all equally. “People say cinema is threatened by streaming platforms but I look at it in a positive manner. Yes, it is harder to pull people into theatres but isn’t it great that people are getting pushed to do better work to keep the audience engaged? Novel concepts are materialising and more avenues are opening up.”

Ask him if he has any dream film-makers or actors to work with and he says he has collaborated with most of them. “I have been fortunate to have worked with directors like Rakesh and Anurag, and now, actors like Dulquer, Ajay and Ranveer Singh. I really don’t have a wishlist of any sort,” he signs off.