The pull of Helmet is Aparshakti Khurana finally crossing over from supporting roles to lead. On YouTube, a majority of comments under the trailer are celebrating exactly that, though praise has also trickled down to co-stars Abhishek Banerjee and Ashish Verma. Add to the list Sharib Hashmi (who plays a gangster named Bunty Bhaiya in the film) and you have a lineup of some of the finest actors working today.
Aparshakti, above all, is happy that the old divisions of ‘lead’ and ‘support’ are wearing away. “All of us have had a journey in making things work for ourselves,” says the actor from Dangal, Stree and Pati Patni Aur Woh.
“I think audiences are recognising that. Both Abhishek and Ashish have been in some wonderful films and shows. We also have Jameel Khan (Gangs of Wasseypur, Gullak) and Ranjan Raj (Bala) in the film. People know these faces and also know that they have worked hard to get here.”
In Helmet, a failed heist saddles Aparshakti and crew with a truckload of condoms. They live in a small-town, so no one will buy them upfront. The ensuing comedy follows the group as they put on helmets and anonymously peddle their wares.
“It’s strange that there has never been a film on condoms,” Aparshakti muses. “Especially in a country like ours, where population is the biggest problem. We cannot solve issues of unemployment or lack of infrastructure unless we control the population.”
He rejects diffidence as a markedly Indian trait. “I feel the problem is worldwide. But yes, we should work harder at creating awareness. People here are not only shy of buying condoms, they are also awkward about where to keep them. It’s ironic that people have guns in their homes but are afraid of keeping a condom.”
Of course, it’s his elder brother, Ayushmann, who pioneered the taboo-busting small-town comedy. Did he discuss the project with the Vicky Donor himself? “Sure, we bounce ideas off each other. I told him what kind of script this was and he gave his thumbs up. He’s always encouraged me with such quirky content. Having said that, the decision is always mine. We do discuss scripts but in the most light way.” Helmet is releasing on ZEE5 on September 3.