The actor on comedy as a genre, his upcoming films, his style of working, and much more…
After a long time, Akshay Kumar has returned to comedy with his upcoming romcom, Singh Is Bliing. Directed by Prabhu Dheva, the film stars British import, Amy Jackson opposite Akshay and also stars Lara Dutta and Kay Kay Menon in pivotal roles. In a recent conversation with BollywoodLife, the actor revealed a little about his upcoming romcom, his future projects, his take on comedy as a genre and a lot more. Here are excerpts from the wonderful chat we had…
After a series of serious films, you are finally back to comedy. How excited are you...
Actually for about 2- 2 and a half years I've just been doing very serious roles and trying to pass on some message or the other. Now I've finally got a chance to do some commercial cinema. At the same time I got this opportunity to work on Housefull 3 for which I'm shooting in London, where I just go wild and wild and more wild. So I'm very excited. And then I come back to Airlift then I have another film with Neeraj Pandey, Rustom. So it is nice to actually breathe and then do something different everytime.
Isn't it mentally draining to switch characters?
Not at all! Listen, I want to tell you something I'm not one of those actors who goes all intense for their characters claiming that they are in a space. I think that is all fake. Let's talk about the real, practical thing... we get a nice vanity van which is air conditioned, has fruits and dryfruits in it, we get to work with lovely ladies. So it is NOT taxing. And if someone tells you something of this sort, just tell yourself while noting it down that he's lying.
Do you think of yourself as a trendsetter to feature as a comedian as well as a hero in a film? Earlier there used to be special people for doing comedy.
Actually it started with Mr Amitabh Bachchan. He did it long back with his film, Desh Premi, I still remember. He was the first actor to start doing the hero's role as well as what Mehmood Sahab used to do. He's responsible for bringing the combination and giving it to people. And even Kishore Kumar Sahab for that matter. There are very few people who did it, I just followed it.
I love it, it's great to do comedy and it's very difficult to do comedy; but unfortunately a comic hero, a guy who can do comedy, doesn't get his due in the industry. Because we look down at it. Unless you do romance, or cry or scream, you don't get a best actor award. If you're making people laugh, people take it as a buffoonery. I don't get why... it is very sad.
Don't you think the comedians are getting sidelined?
No they also have a lot of work. There are around 180 films that are made every year, there are a lot of shows happening. Then there is comedy happening in ads also now and there are TV shows.
The number of comedians from the industry has reduced though, like there was Johnny Lever before...
Johnny Lever is still there. Then there is also Paresh Rawal. You name it and they are all there. If there aren't any new comedians in the industry, there are TV shows happening, like Comedy Nights With Kapil and a few more that have started recently.
You've had three releases this year so far, while Baby and Gabbar performed well at the box office, Brothers failed to do so. How do you take it?
I take it very well (laughs). I see Brothers as an average film, but I'm very proud of it because it has one of the most fantastic fights and also because it is emotional and very close to my heart since it is about Martial Arts and self-defense. It’s about two brothers coming together and I'd say I introduced something new to the audience and I'm proud of it.
You are the only superstar who comes out with four films a year. Do you think a shorter gap between your films is affecting their box office performance?
Yes I know I release a film after every 3-4 months, but I make sure that every character is very different, I make sure I make it is a particular amount, I make sure I'm producing it so whatever is going to happen’, I'm going to earn or I'm going to lose. Nobody else has to go through it. And I'm very happy if a Baby does well or if a Gabbar Is Back does well or if a Brothers does not do well.
But don't you think if you release, let's say a Baby and a Gabbar this year and a Brothers and another film next year, the box office collections won't be affected much?
Why? I've been doing this for the past 25 years and I feel there is nothing wrong with it as long as the characters are all different. You know I met a light-man the other day who said to me, 'Aapka haath jodke dhanyawaad karta hun ke aap saal bhar film karte ho, kaam reheta hai. Aaj kal koi do saal mein ek film kar raha hai koi kuch nahi kar raha hai.'Then I asked my makeup guy and he told me that he earns the most compared to his colleagues in the industry. So do we see a problem with it? Everybody is here to earn money and if I enter Forbes is there a problem with you? So where is the problem? It is a very simple procedure - if you make a film in Rs 5 and you earn Rs 8, so it is still a profit, right? You are not paying from your pocket. So when there is profit toh kisi ki sherwani mein kya pareshani hai.
Are you planning to make more films on Mixed Martial Arts?
Well at the moment I'm doing my MMA tournament in Surat and I'm very thankful to the Chief Minister of Gujarat for being present at the tournament. I want to take my MMA and the tournament all over India and I want to show to people that it is very essential to learn martial arts and have self-defense in your life.
How was it working with Lara who's been on a break for a very long time?
I’m glad we got an opportunity to work together again and it was great.
We heard that you called her for the role...
No I didn't call her, I requested her to come and be a part of our film. The whole story is that Amy doesn't know how to speak Hindi and I don't know how to speak English and our romance has started. But there is a communication gap. She can't understand me and I can't get a word of what she says, so we call for a translator and Lara is the translator. The whole film is about how she messes up my love story. Because if the translator is messing things up, then the whole story is going to go haywire and that's what this beautiful love story is all about. Then there are fights and Amy is fighting men... I have to mention that she is one of the best fighters as far as actresses go. She's done a wonderful job.
You are probably the only Bollywood actor who's tried so many variations with stunts and action. Do we see you experimenting with something in Singh Is Bliing as well?
Ah! I've worked with a lion. That is a BIG stunt, not that I'm fighting with him, but he's still sitting with me in my car, just behind me. You won't believe there was this incident that happened... He saw his own reflection in the windscreen and thought there was another lion. He then hit the wind screen so hard that it went flying. And I ran away out of the car at top speed. The guy there told me 'Are aap toh khiladi ho' and I was like, 'khiladi gaya tel lene.' Later, he kept saying that the lion won't do anything but I was just not ready to go close to the wild thing. I didn't want that I should have a garlanded photograph of mine at the beginning of the film saying the film is dedicated to me.
Your film with Neeraj Pandey, Rustom, is clashing with Mohenjo Daro, what do you have to say about the clash?
I think this answer you should ask the producer of the film. I'm not producing that film.
We got to see another side of Twinkle at her book launch. How cool are you with that side of her?
That side of her is not a surprise for me. I see that everyday.
She also mentioned that she's not as politically correct as you are...
She's absolutely right about that. I'm politically very correct, but I want to be like that.
You are known for your comic timings in films, but in real life, who between you and Twinkle would you say has a better sense of humour?
I would say Twinkle has a much better sense of humour. Mine is a very different kind of humour. Mine is very Punjabi humour and hers is very blunt. It's direct, in your face.
So does she enjoy the humour in your films?
Well, it all depends. Some films she does, some films she doesn't. Sometimes she enjoys slapstick comedy too.
There are so many star kids and people with Godfathers in the industry. You and SRK are the only ones who have made it so big without any inside influence...
Well, everybody makes it on their own merit. It would be very wrong on my part to say that they don't. Just because you are an actor's son, doesn't mean that you haven't made it on your own terms and conditions. Everybody has to work hard. You and I, both know of many actors who are actors' sons and they could not make a mark at all. In this industry nobody can survive without working hard, no matter who it is.
Recently, Tiger Shroff claimed that you inspired him to take up martial arts and take fitness so seriously. How do feel about that?
I feel very good and I'm very grateful. Tiger, I know, also loves martial arts, he loves Parkour and indulges himself in physical fitness. It is important to do this. And he's one of the guys I know, who's very much healthy and doesn't indulge himself in products which a lot of youngsters take as a shortcut to a great body. I'm very happy that he does what he does. Hats off to him!
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