Last month, Arjun Mathur became the only actor from India to be nominated for the International Emmy Award in the Best Actor category this year. Mathur was nominated for his role in Made in Heaven, the Amazon Prime Video web series.
In Made In Heaven, Mathur plays the role of Karan Mehra- a gay, Delhi-based wedding planner. In the latter part of the show, Karan speaks out against Section 377 and stands up for LGBTQIA+ rights.
Before Made In Heaven, Mathur had appeared in Hindi films such as My Name Is Khan and Luck By Chance.
Asked if his role as Karan Mehra and the Emmy nomination have changed things for him, Mathur told Silverscreen India: “I have been doing this for too long to expect the industry’s attitude to change overnight. When I am working, all that does not matter to me. I am here to do my own work and enjoy it.”
Talking about what drew him to Karan’s character, he says: “Initially I did have a bit of apprehension because I had already played gay characters twice in my career, but as soon as I read the script, I realised what this show really is. The clear voice it had against patriarchy, misogyny, archaic cultures and laws along with the stand that it was taking for the queer community along with how the majority of the story was being told from a female perspective, all of these factors played into my decision immediately after putting down the script. I wanted to be a part of this collective voice and also portray the emotional graph of Karan.”
“Anyone who is making a decision based on ‘ I don’t want to do it because it’s a gay part’, it’s their loss.”
Talking further about the LGBTQIA+ representation in the film industry, Mathur said: “It is despicable how Bollywood has chosen to represent the community in the last decade. But my experience has been with sensitive, mature filmmakers who are not interested in misrepresenting the community. I see a change coming because in a large way it has been normalisesd in our industry but we have a long way to go. I would like to see gay actors represent themselves. I would like to see more and more actors come out and be proud. They need to take up the mantle and represent themselves rather than having straight actors represent them.”
After 13 years of being in the industry, does stereotyping bother him? Mathur says it’s not a problem. “People can try to stereotype you but in the end my decisions are mine. What work I choose to take up is all up to me. So I don’t think anyone can typecast you unless you let yourself be typecasted,” he says.
Made in Heaven would not have been possible in a pre-OTT era, feels Mathur. With the advent of streaming platforms filmmakers are coming up with fresh content with new faces on a more democratic platform, he says.
“Streaming platform frees a filmmaker from shackles like box office pressure. Being free of those numbers gives them the opportunity to cast new actors, explore new materials, hire new technical crews, and really make something fresh. And of course, censorship is something that is trying to trickle into the virtual space as well but I hope that we can move forward with a level of fearlessness and show the reality the way it is without watering them down or candy flossing them.”
Mathur says season 2 of Made in Heaven was supposed to start shooting in May but has been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. His other series Gone Game, which was shot and directed during the pandemic remotely, too, will see a second season, confirms the actor. Currently, he is waiting to get official intimation of production resuming, which he hopes will be soon.
Apart from Made in Heaven, Netflix series Delhi Crime and Amazon Prime’s Four More Shots Please! have also been nominated in the International Emmy Awards this year, which will be announced on November 23.