Bollywood megastar Ashkay Kumar revealed that he is making a feature on the theme of sex education that he hopes to release next spring during an In-Conversation event at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival on Saturday.
“It’s a very important subject. In a lot of places, it is not there. We have all kinds of subjects we learn in school and sex education is one topic I would like all the schools in the world to have. It’s going to take time to release, it going to be April, May,” he said, adding “It’s one of the best films I’ve ever made.”
The popular action star has got behind social issue films in the past such as the 2017 drama Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, about a man whose wife threatens to divorce him if he does not install a toilet in their house, and the groundbreaking 2018 work Padman, tackling the taboo topic in India of menstruation and lack of access to sanitary products.
“I like to do these sorts of films, social films. It’s not that big a commercial success film but it gives me satisfaction,” he said.
“After Padman, one of my friends told me, ‘My relationship with my daughter has changed. She has opened up so much because we saw this movie together, now she calls me up and says dad, I started my period can you get a sanitary pack for me on the way home from the office’ and that sort of thing.”
The actor and producer’s 40-year career spans more than 150 feature film acting credits, including mega-hits including the 2006 comedy Phir Hera Pheri and more recently blockbuster crime thrillers Sooryavanshi, space exploration drama Mission Mangal and in vitro fertilization sperm mix-up comedy Good Newwz.
There is big Bollywood fanbase in Saudi Arabia and Kumar was met with scenes of near hysteria, with women screaming and the crowd surging forward to snap a photo on smartphones as he entered the cinema theatre for the event.
Red Film Festival international programmer Kaleem Aftab, who was moderating the session, had to read the riot act to the audience to get them to sit down.
Kumar said alongside his passion projects such as Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Padman, he also loved his work in mainstream cinema.
“I still do films with dances and comedy. I enjoy doing these films,” he said. “These are also an important part of your career. You have to do it.”
Kumar is among a raft of Bollywood stars jetting into the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah the second edition of the Red Sea Film Festival, running December 1-10.
Other Indian names making the trip include Shah Rukh Khan, who was honored with a career award and then introduced an open-air screening of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), while Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan are expected later on the festival to also participate in In-Conversation events.