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Versatile Bollywood star, Ayushmann Khurrana is bullish about returning to the theatrical experience as soon as possible, when Indian cinemas reopen after the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian cinemas have been dark since mid-March, and during this time several mainstream Bollywood films switched track and went direct to OTT platforms. These include “Gulabo Sitabo,” starring Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan, which debuted on Amazon Prime Video.

“I’m hugely optimistic that business will bounce back and people will flock to theaters because you cannot get an immersive experience of watching a film anywhere else,” Khurrana told Variety. “I would have loved to see ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ in theaters but it was the producer’s call and given the environment today, every producer will secure themselves and there is absolutely no harm in them taking those business calls.”

“I do, however, feel that people will come to theaters to watch event movies or films that give them a unique experience and a feeling of being in one community,” said Khurrana. “I do hope that our industry recognizes this. I sense purse strings (will) not be loose for the next couple of years. So, the content calls that the industry makes have to be absolutely spot on.”

Khurrana has made it a point of playing diverse characters, and each of them have been box-office successes. These include playing a sperm donor in 2012’s “Vicky Donor”; a man who suffers from erectile dysfunction in 2017’s “Shubh Mangal Savdhan”; an alopecia sufferer in 2019’s “Bala”; and a proud gay man in recent “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.”

“Real characters, real stories and the concept of realism in cinema drives me as an artiste,” says Khurrana. “I want to make my audience believe in the story. I measure the film and my success through this lens only. I have to make the audience relate to the film and the characters and after the initial learning I have had in the industry, I have never picked scripts that I felt my audience won’t relate to.

“My script choices have been unique. They have been off the beaten road and quite charmingly become my brand of cinema today. I feel hugely validated that people expect my cinema to be slightly off centre, more real and definitely entertaining.”

Despite the positive reviews for “Gulabo Sitabo,” Khurrana has no immediate plans to commit to streaming series or films. “I love the kind of content OTT platforms are churning out,” says Khurrana. “They are contributing to the changing landscape of content worldwide, but I don’t think I shall be exploring OTT just yet. I have years to explore myself as an entertainer who gives superlative content for audiences to have a great theatrical experience.”

Next up for Khurrana is an untitled romance alongside Vani Kapoor and directed by Abhishek Kapoor, as revealed exclusively by Variety. He is also re-teaming with his “Article 15” director Anubhav Sinha on a project that is still under wraps.