Aahana Kumra, a talented theatre and film actress, is one of the leads in the most talked about film of the season, Lipstick Under My Burkha. Kumra, who is known for her strong onscreen portrayals, is also playing a special role in Amazon Prime’s first Indian series, Inside Edge, which has been produced by Excel Entertainment.
After studying acting from Mumbai’s Whistling Woods, Kumra started as a theatre actress. “When I was 14 years old, I started acting on stage. I did many theatre workshops and that’s when I developed a passion for acting. Then I fell in love with the theater, the space, the sound, everything. I also started assisting in the workshops. That’s when I decided that I wanted to be an actress. I quit my job as I wanted to follow my passion. I educated myself in acting where I met Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah. They were my mentors and started doing stage with them,” Kumra told Guardian 20.
For Kumra, Lipstick Under My Burkha is a very special film. Being a part of such a project makes her feel happy and satisfied. She says, “I met Alankrita Shrivasatava through one of my friend and he told me that Alankrita is looking for an actress for a film and it is very important and interesting film. So, I met her and she gave me the script to read and at that time I was doing a television show called Yudh with Amitabh Bachchan. So, my dates were clashing with Alankrita’s film and it was very difficult for me to allocate any dates to her. I had to turn down the opportunity but then suddenly got a call from the makers and I was in after the auditions. I was happy to be a part of this film.”
In a very short span of her career, Kumra has achieved a lot, including sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan in Yudh, a TV series. Talking about her experience of working with Amitabh Bachchan at a very early stage in her career, Kumra says, “It was fantastic working with him. I had never imagined that I would work with him. I am grateful and it was like a dream come true. He is one of his kind. He is so dedicated that he knows the scene by heart. It is overwhelming to see an actor working so hard. He does everything with great perfection.”
Kumra believes in taking up challenging roles, and she has played a very bold character in Lipstick Under My Burkha. Is she a similar kind of person off screen? She says, “I am an extremely confident person. I am not afraid of taking up tough roles. I also want to make myself uncomfortable and I have done those extreme roles which challenge me as an artist. And I want to take up such roles as I believe I will get something out of it. It gives me extreme satisfaction to do different roles.”
This film has released in different parts of the world and is earning great acclaim. And the actress is dismayed that its release date got delayed in her own country. “Honestly, I was bit disappointed because the way it was treated in its own country. We thought it would get delayed but we never thought that it would take so much time. The film is getting accolades everywhere,” the actress says. “It’s shocking that your own country is not valuing the potential of the film. It’s definitely making us proud internationally but these people were continuously chopping it off and pulling it down. It disappoints you at many levels because you start thinking that you have done something wrong by making it. It is a universal film, that is why ever country is liking and accepting it the way it has been made.”
The actress also has strong views on the censor board. “My only take on the censor board is that they should only do their job. And they are not doing their job. Their job is to certify us and not ban us. You have to certify the film according to its content. You cannot completely ban the film. You cannot ban anything. Please do your job correctly.”
She adds, “If you really want to censor something then I think, ‘item songs’ should have been completely banned from the films. The way women are projected in such songs, the way the camera angles are rolled and each body part is projected, it completely puts you off. If you really want to ban something, please ban these things. I don’t think moral policing is required in these things. It’s all about expression. You are cutting down someone’s creativity which is not required at all.”