BollySpice is on the sets of Patiala House at the Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham. The film has Akshay Kumar in a new on-screen avatar – a cricket player, and not just a cricket player, but playing in the England colors. The Diwali release is being touted as one of the most poignant Indian films of modern times, with a very different Akshay to what we have seen from his recent oeuvre. Amidst the sounds of cheering crowds and blowing horns emanating from the stadium, we grabbed a spot on the outfield with one of the biggest stars in Bollywood.
Could you describe Patiala House in three words?
Three words? I can describe Patiala House in lots of words but not in three words. But I will try my level best. (Pause) I will call for my director maybe he will be much better!
What we love about your films is your entrance: from the ‘Ravana’ demon on a scooter in Tashan to swinging the girl up above your head in Deewane Huye Paagal. What is your entrance in Patiala House?
(Laughs) It’s very, very simple. Just the opposite of what you have seen. I have to go along with the character and in this film he doesn’t come in with a bang. It’s not like a typical Bollywood film, so absolutely different to that which you have seen earlier.
What is Patiala House about?
Well it’s basically about a generation gap between a father and a son. You know a lot of people when they migrate, come here to settle down and to earn money. They come here with big dreams, but they also bring their culture with them. When their children are born however, they go to British schools, they meet all the foreigners there and they become British Asian. So, a gap is formed between the younger and older generation. How to close that gap is what this film teaches you. That is what Patiala House is about.
We spoke to your cricket bowling coach earlier and he said you could have been a professional if you had gone in earlier.
I am very happy with my profession. I would never think about any other profession because of the type of success I have got. Why take a risk?
Cricket is one of the biggest passions of South Asian countries and here you are combining cricket and Bollywood the two biggest passions. How has that been?
Well this is the first time I’m playing a cricketer, and that also I’m playing a cricketer who is playing for England. For us cricket is a religion and if there was a god of cricket we would pray for that. We envy people like Sachin Tendulkar who is seen as a god of cricket through the kind of scores he has made and the kind of centuries he has done.
Is it hard being a cricketer?
It is quite hard in terms of the pressures you have to go through physically. All the time when you are bowling you are jumping in the air and coming back down, so the kind of impact you get in your back means that the bowlers lifespan isn’t as long as the batsman. It’s been a difficult thing. I have just been practicing since once month and sometimes your body gets sore, but I have quite a good physicality.
You have been playing at historic grounds like the Oval and Trent Bridge how has that been?
It is very rare that people get this chance, and I am one of the lucky ones. I never thought I would ever get a chance to go there and bowl to Andrew Symonds. But, all the time they hit me for sixes, especially when they bat on the left side.
Akshay, you are one of the biggest stars in Bollywood so what were you doing the other day on the underground in London?
I went from here in the chopper and had to go back to central London. From where I got down it was going to take a long time, about one and a half hours because of the traffic. So, the best way was in the tube. I reached there in about half an hour where my kid and wife were waiting for me in central London.
This is the first time you have worked with Anushka Sharma, how has that been?
She is excellent. She is amazing. Although this is her third film it doesn’t look like it, because whenever she gives her dialogues she comes out with something different in every shot. That amazes me and surprised the director also. I think she’s lying when she says she has been in this line since the last one year. She has a lot of knowledge and must have been in the industry for at least ten years.
Howzat! It’s all out for BollySpice as Akshay is called back for his shot. But with an innings average as strong as Akshay’s we are sure Patiala House is going to hit a six when it steps up to the wicket this November.
Photo Credit: Eleanor Halsall