x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Vicky Donor offers a twist on a familiar Bollywood story

Produced by John Abraham and directed by Shoojit Sircar, Vicky Donor is shaping up to be a typical romantic Bollywood comedy between a Punjabi boy and a Bengali girl - with a twist.

John Abraham has produced his first movie, Vicky Donor, which opens in the UAE tomorrow.
John Abraham has produced his first movie, Vicky Donor, which opens in the UAE tomorrow.

Produced by John Abraham and directed by Shoojit Sircar, Vicky Donor is shaping up to be a typical romantic Bollywood comedy between a Punjabi boy and a Bengali girl - with a twist.

The film is a double debut, for Abraham as the producer and for Ayushmann Khurrana - a television presenter who plays the main protagonist Vicky Arora - as his foray into Bollywood. Both were in Dubai last Friday to promote the film ahead of its release in UAE cinemas tomorrow.

Of course, the first question on everyone's mind was why Abraham selected such a delicate subject - sperm donation for infertile couples in India - for his debut production, let alone one that has never been tackled before in Bollywood.

"I chanced upon the subject," says Abraham. "When I read the story and the script, I fell in love with it. I was convinced that if I have to produce, then this is going to be my first production.

He emphasises that he does not see his choice of subject as him being "brave", as much as he does him being "smart".

"This is an issue that's going to be talked about and for me, half my battle is won when people speak about the issue rather than the film. And that's what has happened. Vicky Donor is my first venture with my production company JA entertainment and I'm proud to have it as the first baby of the production house."

Abraham reveals that casting Khurrana to play Vicky Arora was a "no-brainer".

"Shoojit was always clear that he wanted Ayushmann. So what if he's a new face in Bollywood? He's been a VJ on TV for so many years, he's good looking and witty. I believe casting is important, but where my production house JA entertainment is concerned, the hero of a film is the subject matter. In Vicky Donor, we wanted the typical Delhi boy, the Punjabi munda, and Ayushmann has done fantastically in the role. There's a lot of pressure for a new face in a Bollywood movie. I was a new face when I was cast in Jism in 2003, and I did pretty OK. I am repeating it with Ayushmann in Vicky Donor in 2012. I believe we make a brilliant team in this film."

Khurrana himself waited patiently for years, rejecting numerous Bollywood offers in his wait for the perfect one to come along.

"I waited for four years for this movie and I think this is the perfect debut movie for anybody," he says. "The name of the film is Vicky Donor, I'm the lead, Vicky Arora. I'm acting, I'm singing. The director is very credible, there is a superstar producer. It's the perfect stepping stone."

Khurrana agrees with Abraham that a lot of people will see the film because of its unique subject matter.

"This topic is going to raise a lot of eyebrows. A lot of people are going to watch this film because of the quirkiness of the subject."

Although Khurrana's character in the film is torn when asked to be a sperm donor, the decision was not so difficult for the actor when he faced it in real life. In 2004, he was part of a reality series called MTV Roadies, where one of the tasks was to be selected as a sperm donor.

Khurrana's sample was selected, he won the series, and is an authentic sperm donor now. Did the Vicky Donor team know this little fact when they cast him for the movie?

"Not at the time," says Khurrana laughing. "This is a bizarre coincidence!"

Both Khurrana and Abraham feel quite strongly on the subject of sperm donation.

"I think it's the need of the hour today," says Abraham. "It's a very emotionally loaded issue, and a very credible one. Just like blood donation where you save a life, with sperm donation, you give a life. It's wonderful that there are people who are brave enough - men who are brave enough to get their wives to conceive a baby through another man's sperm, and women who are brave enough to accept another man's sperm."

"There's a very thin line between being funny and being a caricature," adds Khurrana. "This topic is very sensitive, and the director has dealt with the subject in a very mature manner."

Summing up his experience in the jump from actor to producer, Abraham says that the experience has been "beautiful".

"My studio, Eros Studio, has been wonderful. My co-producer and director, Shoojit Sircar, has been absolutely great. My cast has been lovely. Let's put it this way: there's been a beautiful honeymoon period and finally I've got this beautiful baby called Vicky Donor."

Vicky Donor will be released in cinemas across the UAE tomorrow

artslife@thenational.ae

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