He is Bollywood’s most versatile actor. The superstar says he feels very lucky and is loving his work right now. We spoke with the ‘Khiladi’ of Hindi cinema about his upcoming film, Airlift, box office success and more. In a frank and exclusive interview Akshay tells all.
There was a period where you were doing mainly action and then comedy roles, and now there seems to be a move (a successful one at that) to doing true life stories. Do you pre-plan the genre’s you want to do, or is it a case of what’s being offered by producers?
I try not to plan or think too far ahead. Who would have thought, the action packed comedy clown ‘Akshay Kumar’ would want to make so many real life dramas, where the action becomes painfully raw, and the stories hit home so hard it makes you look at life a little more differently…
Also It was actually nice to take a break from all the fighting I’ve performed throughout 2015!! It’s been a very physically brutal year on my body, though I can’t tell you enough how much I still enjoy it.
But to finally play a successful rich man, even though I am rich for only five minutes of the film, it is my status and way of working that saves so many lives. To shoot someone else’s story, Rajput himself ‘God Rest His Soul’ should have been made a national hero, so to recreate his struggle, his empathy to his fellow Indians was easier for me to understand than I first thought, because in fact he did everything I would have tried to do in his position, I was in fact playing a businessman version of myself. I’m an extremely protective man, if something like this disaster was to ever happen again, I hope to be that man in real life that provides the kind of safety people are looking for. The best part about this film is it makes you want to be that man as well, so to educate an audience not to let even the darkest of demons like Saddam Hussein control our lives, gives me pleasure already. This is not a jaw dropping film, this is an eye opening film!!!
People are loving the trailer to Airlift and it’s very clear you have come a long way as an actor. What for you is more important today, box office success or critical acclaim?
I can’t express how lucky I feel, especially with the kind of ambitious cinema we’ve had in 2015, it’s been a whopper of a year!! The feedback I’ve experienced for ‘Airlift’ is so immense and so genuine that I haven’t quite got my head round it yet.
As for box office I’m a very pragmatic man. I’ve reached that stage where the box office success of a film doesn’t mean as much to me as the interest or the appreciation it can earn wholeheartedly. Not all Blockbusters are worthy, I say that from my own experience, as wonderful as it is to break records, there are very few that make it into the ‘Cult Club’ forever. These are so precious and rare, no one can dish out a ‘Cult’ every year, but there’s no harm in entertaining people while you wait eagerly for that magical script/screenplay that blows the audience away for the rest of their lives.
And I’m happy making films that intrigue, excite, entertain people while I search for my next ‘Hera Pheri’ ‘Waqt’ or ‘Namaste London’ ;0)
You seem extremely passionate about ‘AirLift’ to the extent of wanting the story to be told in Indian history books. Do you find you’ve become attached to the character and the story of the film?
There is always pressure when you have to slip into the shoes of a real person and to do justice to that role. Performing the role of Ranjit Katyal has been particularly challenging for me, because I’ve had to put myself in his position, the great thing is, he’s a phenomenal human being, so the honour of playing him it’s just wonderful, what a man, what a hero he was…
You’re doing around five films a year, whilst other actors are saying they find it hard to play so many different characters in one year, hence stick to doing one film a year. What’s the secret to being able to switch from intense true life to then doing a comedy like Houseful 3?
By the time ‘Airlift’ releases, this will be my fifth film within 12 months, so when I work this hard & this much, it gives me more freedom to branch out into many different aspects of Hindi cinema. You see I don’t like to put all my eggs into one basket, I’m not ready to only pray for one humungous success in a year, not yet anyway. I’m actually really enjoying the full mix match of genres I’m playing with right now. It keeps me on my toes & the audience happy that they know I’m not dishing out the same kind of cinema that works in hope it’ll make money.
What do you enjoy playing the most, comedy, romantic or action?
I think the villain always enjoys so much in major part of the film’s duration. He fixes up the heroine, runs around her. The hero is always busy protecting and working for his sister and mother. Only in the last five minutes of the film he gets beaten. I want to play a villain’s role more often. There are many untouched genres. Even in comedy there are so many things in which I actually want to catch up with.
Finally, would you like to tell our readers why they should go watch Airlift?
Airlift is such an inspiring and great story which has never been told before. It’s not just a film; it’s an insight into the harsh realities of war and the bravery. Brave civilians travelled tirelessly through deserted terrain in desperate hope that their fellow Indians from their beloved motherland would have the courage to ‘airlift’ them all out of Kuwait, where they had made a new life away from India. However, now they needed desperately to be brought back to safety. Even when people turn their backs on India in search of better horizons, India never turns its back on its people. A story so true that it makes you love your country even when you have forgotten how to!