“As An Actor, I Am Not Averse To Doing Sex Comedies Too”- Akshay Kumar
The national award winning actor has turned 52 years old today. AKSHAY KUMAR who is gloating over the phenomenal success of his latest film Mission Mangal which has collected over 100 cr in just the first week-end tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that to reach the position in which eh finds himself today, he has really had to slog very hard.
I remember the first time I met him was when I had gone with starlet Renu Arya , whom incidentally was Salman Khan’s heroine in Biwi Ho To Aisi for a photo session to Madh Island to photographer Jayesh Sheth and he was assisting him in catching the lights and his name was Rajiv Bhatia.
I remember the lean and lanky young man, who continues to remain a staunch teetotaler till date running to the nearby wine shop to fetch us beer bottles during the recess. We at bollyy.com wish the birthday boy all the best.
Excerpts from an interview with Akshay Kumar taken sometime back
What do you think when you look back at your career?
When I look back at my career, I just cannot imagine that I have completed over 140 films as an actor having started with Chakkida that is Pramod Chakraborty’s film Deedar opposite Kareena Kapoor almost two and a half decades ago, though Saugandh directed by Raj N Sippy was the first film of mine to see the light of the day.
You worked as a waiter in Bangkok!
To reach the position in which I am finding myself today, I have really slogged hard. Hard struggle always pays in the long run. Not only did I work as a waiter cum cook at a small restaurant in Bangkok where I remember I had posted Sridevi’s poster on the small cup board in my small living room, as I was her ardent fan but also assisted photographer Jayesh Sheth in his photo sessions with all the stars just to get to know film industry at close quarters.
Did it never strike you that you should learn acting?
I may have completed 140 films as an actor and my films may have notched up more than 100 cr and I may be in the league of 100 cr plus actors today but to me what matters more is the good will that I have with the people. It is thanks to my producers and fans that I have been able to be what I am today. I will always keep in mind this fact. I remember during my struggling days when I used to earn a very meager income, I once had gone to a pavement book seller in Flora Fountain and asked him to suggest a book which would let me learn what acting is. I opened the book and decided to browse through it before I parted with my money but after I read the first line of the book, I decided not to splurge my money on it. You know what was written there? If you are a good human being, you can be a good actor too.
Though you are a Punjabi, what made you learn Marathi?
It was my determination and the decision to take up a challenge to avenge my humiliation by a BEST conductor that made me learn Marathi fluently after I had come to Mumbai as a struggler 25 years ago. It so happened that I was standing inside a bus during my days of struggle when I was just Rajeev Hari Om Bhatia and finding ways and means of getting to Bollywood in a big way .
On the particular day this particular conductor kept on shouting at the top of his voice to me telling me Pudhe Chal Pudhe Chal and I did not at all react to him and continued to keep standing exactly where I was standing in the aisle of the bus, which angered him all the more. I did not at all follow Marathi since I was very new to Mumbai at that point of time and I thought that maybe he was yelling out to someone else and was immersed in my thoughts when this conductor chided me and told me Pudhe Chala Re and asked me why I was just standing where I was and not moving ahead.
You have also acted in a film in Marathi besides producing a film in Marathi!
It was then that it occurred to me that Pudhe Chala Re means Aage Badho. I was so humiliated when everyone else in the bus laughed at me at my lack of awareness of the local language that I in turn shot back to the poor conductor why he did not tell me aage bhado instead of yelling Pudhe Chala Re at me. However that very moment, I decided that I would make amends and not let anyone else deride me for not knowing Marathi and started learning Marathi and a day also dawned when I became so proficient in Marathi that I even acted in a Marathi film called Aadhar with Jaya Prada as my co-star for a director friend of mine called Mahesh Tilekar.
Not only that, it was thanks to my interest in the language that I was also motivated to produce the Marathi film 72 Miles Ek Pravaas which was appreciated at several international film festivals all over the world.
Does your son Aarav watch your films?
My son Aarav watched all my films but he told me that he liked me in Holiday. He is brutally frank and sometimes tells me that I am bad in such and such a film, if he does not like it. I am glad that I had bought the rights for the remake of the Tamil film Thuppaki even before it was decided that I would produce Holiday, when A.R. Murugadoss came to me with the subject and wanted me to act in the film. I look for a different script every time, because I like taking risks as an actor. I remember when I set out to produce Oh My God and act in it without a heroine, people warned me it would not run, because I was tackling a controversial subject by my gamble paid off.
What do you keep in mind when you put money in a project as a producer?
If you do not know what your script is, automatically the cost of your film will soar high. What is the point if you shoot a film for 200 days when you can shoot it in 50 days? It is like asking your tailor to stitch a short for you after giving him 4 meters of cloth when you can make it in 2.25 meters easily. Do you know that Tom Cruise made Mission Impossible in just 47 days, because he had the script on hand before he went on the floors? Is there a single film in Bollywood which is bigger than Mission Impossible?
What makes you tick as an actor when there is stiff competition?
I am still very greedy as an actor for good roles. Consciously I lost 10 kilos for my role in Brothers in which I played the lean elder brother of Sidharth Malhotra because he had gained 10 kilos and I had to present an athletic body and look weak even though I played his elder brother.
In what way has the action scenario changed over the years?
Today the times are different and there is not much risk when a producer sets out to make an action packed film unlike in the past because then producer insures the film as well as the actor , who is playing the risky role in his film. Action has changed over the years and is well groomed now though it was very raw earlier. I remember when I used to jump from choppers, air bags were never there. In Aawara Paagal Deewana, it was I who introduced the cable. I prefer to do all the action on my own because I enjoy doing such roles.
How do you keep the actor in you alive?
It is every actor’s hunger and thirst to do different types of roles instead of getting typecast all the time. You will not see me at all in similar kinds of roles. As an actor, I have to diversify all the time, because I am of the opinion that if you are repetitive, the media will be the first to catch you and make you realize it. That is the reason I keep on producing as well acting in different genres of films. Though you do not always get a wonderful script like Oh My God at your doorstep, I was lucky I was able to do films in dynamically different roles like in Entertainment, Gabbar Is Back, Baby, Airlift and Rustom.
How would you describe yourself as a producer?
As a producer, I do not want to play safe and produce only formula based films with an eye on the box office. After Jolly LLB 2 and Toilet Ek Prem Katha, I am extremely confident about my other forthcoming films as an actor too like Sooryavanshi, Laxxmi Bomb, Prithviraj, Housefull 4 and Good News.
What suggestion do you want to give to the government at the Centre?
I hope the government makes martial arts a compulsory subject for every student in every school, because I feel that knowing martial arts will help the students much more than knowing what sodium nitrate is. I make it a point to train students in martial arts for three years and even send them abroad for further training.
What ails Indian Cinema today?
We have content in India, though unfortunately we do not have the kind of budgets that Hollywood makers have at their disposal to make a Godzilla. Abroad, they make a film with a budget of 135 million dollars. It is creditable that in our country, when filmmakers set out to make their films, they have trust in themselves and go ahead and make films with a lot of conviction
How do you see to it that your releases do not cut into one another?
Ideally, I’d like to have at least a five months gap between the releases of my films. If I want, I can easily set out to manipulate but I do not though it is the actor’s word at the end of the day. When it comes to the date of release of my films, I do not believe in pressurizing the corporates which are releasing my films because they know their job well and when they zero in on one particular date to release your film, you just simply cannot tell them to postpone or pre-pone the date of release. I do not want to have a conflict with any producer of mine and hence do not argue with them. They have put in crores of rupees on the film and have studied the game thoroughly.
On what basis do you choose your heroines?
Frankly, it is the director who decides which heroine will work opposite me. I do not take the final call. I have worked with several new actresses. I was Bipasha’s leading man in her first film Ajnabee, Priyanka Chopra’s hero in her first film Andaaz. I worked with Sonakshi Sinha in Rowdy Rathod, Holiday and Mission Mangal, Tamannah Bhatia in Entertainment and Tapsee Pannu in Baby,Naam Shabana and Mission Mangal and Mouni Roy was my leading lady in Gold.
Are you open to be part of a sex comedy?
I am not averse to doing any kind of a film, including a sex comedy. Sex comedy is a good genre. I was part of Garam Masala long before Masti or Grand Masti or even Great Grand Masti came up. It is after all just a film and you are doing a character. It does not mean that you turn a sex maniac and vulgarity does not become part of your life if you set out to do a sex comedy.
Is your wife Twinkle contemplating on staging her comeback as an actress in films?
Tina has her own life. When I asked Tina recently, she confessed to me that she has no plans to stage her comeback as an actress. Today she is so busy as a writer that she does not have time even to read the scripts that I get.
Do you plan to induct your son Aarav and daughter Nitara too as actors?
I want my son Aarav and daughter Nitara to lead a normal life. It is too early for us to decide on what exactly he would become. Right now, he is happy in his space in school. Tina and I are also proud that he has won a gold medal in Judo.
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