Since making his debut in Mira Nair’s 2008 HIV awareness short “Migration,” Indian actor Arjun Mathur has been a constant presence in film and television. But it was the Amazon Prime Video series “Made In Heaven” that made him a global face, earning him a Best Actor nomination at the International Emmy Awards.
In “Made In Heaven,” Mathur stars, a New Delhi-based gay wedding planner who struggles with work stress and prejudice. During the filming of the series, homosexuality was illegal in India. This archaic law has since been repealed, but India remains a deeply conservative society.
“Back then I didn’t feel as much as I do today that there is so much hold on our art, to be honest,” says Mathur. Variety. “And the feeling is a lot stronger today, the worry of ‘can we turn this off? Can that be said? are you OK?
“Made In Heaven” is created by Zoya Akhtar (“Gully Boy”) and Reema Kagti (“Gold”), with Alankrita Shrivastava (“Lipstick Under My Burkha”) as co-author.
“What I noticed first was that it was mostly told from a female point of view,” explains Mathur. “Much, even just in the writing, there was a feminine look. And of course, I think everything the show said and talked about about patriarchy and misogyny and a lot of our archaic laws and traditions, that we don’t really know who they serve anymore. So, I think that all of that coming together, and of course the loud and clear voice he had in favor of the queer community, I thought that was extremely important. And I really wanted to be part of that collective voice.
Born in London, UK, Mathur studied theater at the Barry John Acting Studio in New Delhi and the Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute in New York. He worked as an assistant director on Bollywood blockbusters, including “Rang De Basanti” and “Bunty Aur Babli” before becoming a full-time actor. Her notable credits include “Barah Ana”, “I Am”, “Fireflies”, “My Name is Khan” and the Channel 4 series “Indian Summers”.
Coming up for Mathur is the next season of “Made In Heaven”, the second season of the Voot Select series “Gone Game”, and “Lord Curzon Ki Haveli”, the first director of “Love, Sex Aur Dhokha” star Anshuman Jha . Mainstream Bollywood comes calling, but Mathur is selective about what job he takes.
“Certainly there were a few offers, but after ‘Made In Heaven’, even more than before, I became even more special,” says Mathur. “There has been a lot more interest, a lot more calls, sure. But the work that really got me excited is rare.
Meanwhile, the Indian entertainment industry is excited by the news that the streaming platforms, so far operating under a self-regulatory system, are now under the Ministry of Information and Public Affairs. Broadcasting. No one knows exactly yet, but the general impression is that the censorship is on the move.
“Living in India in 2020 is almost a daily assault, you know, against the erosion of our freedoms,” says Mathur. “So here’s the new one.”
International Emmy winners will be announced on November 23.
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