It's D-Day for Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra's action drama movie Brothers. Khiladi Kumar has already screened the film for his family and he expects audiences to appreciate the hard work that has gone into making this film...
Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna missed a big Bollywood wedding last year. I remember asking Twinkle the next morning why they weren’t there. She said that Akshay had come home from the shooting of Brothers and was so exhausted that he simply crashed. The man, always raring to go, had no energy to don a suit and face people of his fraternity. That is the kind of training that Khiladi Kumar did for Brothers. The film releases today and he was at the cast-and-crew screening with his wife and son Aarav. Here he talks about the journey of the film, how it changed him and why he will continue to push the envelope and himself every day of his life...
You’ve done action films before. But Brothers has been the most physically exhausting one of all. Why is that?
Not just full of energy, it has the longest climax I’ve ever had to shoot for in my life. Brothers has definitely been the toughest, most technical, fighting action film of my career. This wasn’t about me turning up on a daily basis and giving my best. My best wasn’t good enough. Until I learnt how to perform skills like a proper MMA fighter, we didn’t go home, we didn’t pack up, there was no tomorrow until today was perfected. The entire stunt team made sure of that, there were no room for flaws, they got the best out of us, and my director got the best out of them…
You were always fit. But you got even fitter for Brothers. What was your physical training like?
For a year, my life was pretty much train-and-pain! If I wasn’t in pain, I hadn’t tried hard enough. So, back to the gym I went till the pain came. Don’t feel sorry for me, though. Loved every minute of it, even the worst days. I’d still rather be in the gym dedicating myself to this, than to be training everyday dedicating my body to only looking good in a mirror. This way, I got to do what I love and it produced results that shocked me our amazing American stunt team, who were all pretty much half my age (smiles) Moral of this story: Hard work really does get appreciated. By the right people anyway.
You have continued with your fitness regime to this day, much after the film is over. Why?
I cope with it because I love it. Now, I do Capoeira ginga for warm-up, thanks to Tenzin who is the phenomenal Chinese fighter in the film, who is my second opponent in the main arena. Grappling floor techniques to keep my body strong and agile, thanks to Eric, who was my professional MMA fight trainer for the film. Muay Thai Boxing thanks to the Hammer who kicks me so hard and fast in my last fight, that when I came out the ring alive I just wanted relive my past and kick like I did at 21. All this and then I do my functional training, that gives me the strength and grounding to perform all this whenever it is asked of me. I’m ready for a round in the ring right now if you want. (laughs)
No thanks! Brothers has a younger hero too: Sidharth Malhotra. How was it sharing screen space with him?
It was like fighting a mirror image of myself, though Sid had to grow twice his size for the film, I got the lucky card and had to shrink and tone. Sid had to multiply his muscles, gain fighting knowledge and attempt his first real action film with me. He had a tough task ahead of him last year, but how much this boy has tried, how much he trained and given his physical best to this film! We are both so grateful for each other’s efforts, because if it wasn’t for what we put in, we wouldn’t be sitting here so proud of what you’re all going to get out of us when you see it.
The film’s highlight is expected to be the crucial MMA fight in the climax. After a long time, two major heroes will be seen exchanging punches on screen, bare-chested. Are you ready for comparisons?
Hah!... People have compared me my whole life, as bare-chested as we both are, dying to give a performance of a lifetime. I genuinely don’t care who looks better, or who moves better, I don’t even care if I win or lose in front of everyone. All I care about is that people appreciate how hard we tried, how much we’ve given to offer something so new to this industry, and how well we’ve done to survive such a deadly climax almost completely unharmed. I’m proud of us. Sid’s my li’l Brother, on and off screen, no comparison or scrutiny is ever going to change that.
The year gone by has been a defining one for you, in terms of your career choices mainly. What’s the kind of change you have seen in yourself?
Well I’m definitely fitter and faster, so again, when you feel your best, your able to give your best, and that only proves one thing, people will then see you at your best. It’s been a great year, professionally and personally. As happy as I am, I’m still not going to sit here content with life, the minute one takes a day for granted, a whole year’s hard work can disappear in a flash, and one has to start all over again. I’m on a roll, but I need to keep rolling, so it’s head down, eyes down and let the good times roll…
This has also been your first film with Dharma Productions. How would you evaluate the working experience vis-à-vis your other producers?
Dharma is a dream company to work with, from their professionalism, to their work ethics, time management and budgeting. There is a reason they are one of the best in the entire industry. Karan Johar is a great producer, we felt his presence and love for our film without getting in the way of it’s creation. He made sure it got created right and then stepped back and let the big boys roll and there’s some seriously BIG BOYZ in this film (laughs).
This is one of the very few two-hero films we’ve seen in recent times. Why do you feel today’s generation of actors is shying away from doing two-hero projects?
Same reason it’s always been. Men like to feel they made it on their own! It’s in our DNA, Men think one brain is better than two. Why have two heroes when you can have one hero who does it all… To be honest I find that a shame, I always have, some of my favourite films of all time have been the ones I shared screen space with. That’s why I admire Sid for stepping up and doing Brothers.
The trade believes that Brothers might just end up being your career-best grosser at the box-office. What are your expectations from it?
There are enough expectations going around as it is, I really don’t need to add to it. We all sat down last night after seeing the movie together for the first time, and we all agreed at the end of the day, no matter what the outcome, we know we’ve made a wonderful film, and after you’ve been in the industry for as long as I have, numbers are just untouched figures. They come and go like the wind, but respect and pride lasts a life time, if you are lucky enough to receive that, then what more as film makers can we ask for. I’ve already made the closest people in my life more proud than I could ever have imagined. My Friday happened last night when my wife and son watched the film. Let me put it this way, I’m more than the man of the house today (grins) I’m my family’s own treasured hero, and that is what means the absolute world to me…
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