When BollySpice was invited to an exclusive soiree and conversation with Akshay Kumar in a central London five star hotel, it did not take long for us to cancel all other plans and head on over. In a freewheeling chat the Bollywood superstar spoke in detail on everything from his forthcoming film Khatta Meetha, to awards shows, politics and early nights. Akshay also shared with BollySpice an exclusive ten-minute preview of his new release.
What attracted you to making this film?
Khatta Meetha is about corruption in road construction, and in the film I play a corrupt road contractor. You see in India there is so much construction and roads are built again and again in order for companies to keep getting a contract. It’s a global problem and I’m sure it happens everywhere, but nowhere more than India. Whenever I come out of my house I always see construction going on. I made this film in an entertaining way, though it is actually inspired by a true story that happened in Bihar. If you have seen Raajneeti it is like that film but presented in a comic and satirical manner.
How was the experience of shooting with Priyardarshan again?
Shooting with Priyardarshan is fun. It is insane. He has directed seventy films, and of that, sixty-eight films have been super hits. I have done five films with him and everyday that you work with him is fun.
You seem to be doing more comic roles these days than action films?
In the last five years the business of comedy films is more than any other genre. People like films that can make them laugh or make them smile whether it is Hera Pheri or Housefull. Comedy is a very, very tough job, and I love it when I have to make people laugh. Situations can make people cry but to make people laugh, you really need a knack to do it and I enjoy the challenge.
As a Punjabi actor is it difficult playing a Marathi character in the film?
For me, it’s not difficult as I have stayed in Maharashtra for thirty years and my Marathi is actually much better than Hindi. So for me, playing this character was very easy.
How was shooting opposite south Indian star Trisha Krishnan?
She is a big star in Chennai, and Priyan had actually given Trisha her first break in another one of his films. She is very comfortable in front of the camera, and although she has a little problem with Hindi she manages great. This is her first Hindi film. You know how the industry works, if the movie does well than the audience accepts the actor.
Many of Priyardarshan’s films are remakes of hits from the south. Do you watch the original film beforehand?
I always get instruction from Priyardarshan not to watch the original, not to touch it or go near it at all. I’m allowed to meet the actor from the film, so Mohanlal who always acts in the original Priyardarshan films and is also a very good friend, is someone I will meet, but not watch the film.
Working with comic actors like Rajpal Yadav and Johnny Lever in this film do you ever feel in competition to give the funniest performance?
We all just perform what we have to do. We won’t take away the scene from another actor, and Priyan himself won’t allow us to do that, he is very particular about that.
What are your dreams for the future?
I come from a very simple background so my dreams have always been very simple. But I can’t believe what I have got. God has been very kind with me. I never in my life thought I would have a big house in Juhu where all the big actors live. I always used to stand outside Amitabh Bachchan’s house to see him, and now to have a house near him is something I never imagined. All my dreams are fulfilled I don’t think I can ask for more.
Would you like to make it in Hollywood?
I am very happy being here, I have a huge audience to entertain, and there is so much love and affection here. I do get small offers and big offers from Hollywood but to be honest I enjoy being here in Bollywood.
What excites you when you read a script?
You see I do a lot of action movies and a lot of comedy, but it is how the script presents a gene in a different way, which attracts me. That’s why I loved Bhool Bhulaiyaa, as it was a script that combined comedy with horror. The audience is scared but laughing at the same time, and that is a lovely combination.
Which of your films really sticks in your mind?
The film Waqt is one film, which I feel really made an impact. I got a call from a friend of mine who said ‘Akshay-bhaiya you changed my life I respect my father more than ever and I realize the value of fatherhood now’. That was one movie I got a lot of calls on and it was a film, which changed peoples lives.
There are rumors you are training your son to be an actor?
This is one question I asked him recently and you know what he said? ‘Boring!’ He wants to get into interior designing like his mother. He hates coming for shooting, but loves being in London. A few days back he was telling me he loves going to Hyde Park to run and cycle around and for me to come along with him.
Would you one day like to go into direction?
About four or five years back I said I would never produce a film, and now here I am having produced Singh is Kinng and Namaste London. So producing yes, and though I don’t know about the future, at the moment I would say no to directing.
You train very hard and you don’t drink, smoke or go out partying. Is it hard to keep up that lifestyle to look good in Bollywood?
I am like this because I enjoy it, not so that I can look good. I love sleeping at eight thirty or nine o’clock. Even my wife does. By nine thirty the whole Kumar family is sleeping.
Do you still practice martial arts?
I do practice shadow boxing. I have my own Akshay Kumar karate tournament running now, for the second year ,where I invite three thousand people from over India and their lodging and boarding is all on the house. All they have to do is take part and if I see spark in them they are sent to take part in international tournaments.
As a successful actor in the film industry, what advice would you give to young people?
I always give one simple piece of advice that I have followed and this is: every morning before you leave the house take your father and mother’s blessing. It is a simple way for success.
You missed the IIFAS in Sri Lanka this year would you have liked to taken part?
I was shooting for my own production here so I didn’t get the chance. If I did have the opportunity I would have taken part, but unfortunately I was busy on my film.
How do you feel about awards? Are they important to you?
The most important award is reward. As so many award shows go on in India, reward is more important.
Have you thought about getting involved in politics?
In Rajneeti, yes. But, in Indian politics? No, I don’t think I would do that.
Priyardarshan’s Khatta Meetha is scheduled to release on July 23, 2010. Akshay requested that we turn our cameras and dictaphones off during the ten minute preview of the film. From what we did see however, the film looks like a fantastic example of the quality fare Priyardarshan does with such ease, and Akshay himself excitedly declared this is his best comic film to date.
Photo Credit: Eleanor Halsall