Ankur Rathee says he's confident about Shehzada's success: 'I don't have fears of boycott'
Ankur Rathee will be next seen in the Marathi film Samaira opposite Ketaki Narayan, and later in Shehzada alongside Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon. The actor has opened up about his upcoming films, his life after marriage with Anuja Joshi, and more.
After receiving love and positive reviews for his performance in Thappad, Four More Shots Please, and Undekhi among others, actor Ankur Rathee is awaiting the release of Shehzada, which he describes as a first in his career. Ankur will also be making his Marathi film debut with Samaira. The actor spoke about his films, the boycott culture, and his life as a newlywed in this interview. Also Read| Ankur Rathee on insider vs outsider debate in entertainment industry
Shehzada, directed by Rohit Dhawan, features an ensemble cast of Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Ronit Roy, and Sachin Khedekar apart from Ankur. The actor told Hindustan Times that he is confident about the success of the film, which is an official remake of the 2020 Telugu film Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.
Ankur said about his experience of filming Shehzada, "Working with Kartik and Kriti has been so much fun, and working with veterans like Manisha Koirala, Paresh Ji, and Ronit Roy has been equally rewarding. And Rohit Dhawan is just so incredible to work with. This is my 7th film now, and I have done so many web series, but I have never done something in this kind of Bollywood, rom-com, action-drama, masaledaar type of cinema."
Asked if he worries about the film's performance considering the recent failure of Hindi films at the box office, often supported by calls of boycott, Ankur said he is confident Shehzada will do good among the audience. He said about recent films like Laal Singh Chaddha and Raksha Bandhan facing calls of boycott, "What can I gain by fearing about it? I can't go to people's houses and make each of them understand that they should not boycott our films...The biggest issue I have is that first, you should see the film and then if you don't like it, definitely discuss your opinions with your family, and the world. I feel sometimes what happens is a few influential people kind of sway the masses and people don't end up going to see the film."
He added, "At the end of the day, especially for a film like Shehzada, it's entertainment. You should be excited to see it. And I think Shehzada will do remarkably well. We are making content that the audience will enjoy. This is an action-packed comedy that people will find themselves laughing at and enjoying themselves. I don't have any fear in terms of boycotting or something like that."
Apart from Shehzada, which is due for a theatrical release on February 10 next year, Ankur will also be seen in the Marathi film Samaira. The Rishi Deshpande directorial, which stars Ankur opposite Ketaki Narayan, will release in theatres on August 26. The film features Ketaki's Samiara and Ankur's Jason on pilgrimage to Pandharpur Wari in Maharashtra.
Ankur said about Samaira, "The film is about these two individuals who are dealing with these childhood traumas, and they both think that the solution to that can be found during the journey of Pandharpur Wari. Samaira is looking for her birth mother and my character Jason is looking for a sense of belonging having lost his parents at a very young age. That propels the story forward and shows how they meet and help each other overcome their respective trauma."
Ankur revealed that he had filmed for Samaira in 2016 when he had just come to India from the United States to build a career as an actor. Asked if he faced any difficulties in doing a Marathi film despite being not familiar with the language, the actor shared an interesting anecdote. He recalled, "I shot this film about 6 years ago, it's been a long time. I had just come to Mumbai and I hadn't seen much of Maharashtra and I didn't know the language. Luckily my character is not seen speaking Marathi that much. Mainly I am speaking English in the film which makes things easier. But everyone on set spoke in Marathi so it did make things difficult."
He added, "There were many times in between takes when director Rishi, my co-actor Ketaki, writer Sumit, DoP Amay would be chatting about the scene and how to improve it, or we'll be getting notes from our director. And he would start by speaking in English, but as he grew more passionate, he would switch to Hindi. That's perfectly fine because I understand and speak Hindi very well. But then there would be a point where he would get so passionate that he wouldn't even realise and he would slip into Marathi all of a sudden. When he would finish he would look at me and ask 'got it, let's shoot' and I would be like 'no, I don't got it.' He would then explain it in Hindi."
Ankur, who had relocated to California in the United States with his family at a very young age, credits his proficiency in Hindi to his maternal grandfather and his scoldings. Talking about his life in California, he shared, "I was born in Haryana. And my family did not immigrate from a big city in India to the US but went straight from a village to the US. So it was a different transition, and we applied our villages' culture and traditions, and language in California as well." Also Read| Sonia Rathee says her problem in acting industry was adjusting to India: 'Now it has become my home'
He added, "25 members from my mom's side of the family alone are in California while 40-50 members from my dad's side of the family are in New Jersey etc. We all came slowly, but in some way, we established a mini Haryana in San Diego. So we had the benefit of growing up with the best of both cultures. I would get a lot of slaps from my nana (maternal grandfather) if I would speak in English. And that came in handy when I moved to India."
Ankur recently marked a major milestone in his personal life, as he married actor Anuja Joshi in a picturesque ceremony in the UK on June 15, after dating for almost 10 years. Asked how has life changed for them since the marriage, Ankur shared, "Right after marriage, Anuja went back to shooting for her medical drama for Fox in Atlanta called The Resident, and I came back to India to continue shooting for Shehzada so we both immediately got back to work. But life has changed in very significant but subtle ways. The way we see each other has slowly started to shift in a very positive way. We are excited."