Akshay Kumar: “OMG Oh My God has opened my eyes and my heart as an actor and as a devotee to God…”

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Akshay Kumar is one of the biggest stars in Hindi cinema with his most recent super hit success being the masala action film Rowdy Rathore. The actor also has his hand in production and recently started a new banner Grazing Goat Films. Their first production is OMG: Oh My God, which stars funny man Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar as God. Directed by Umesh Shukla, who also directed the stage production, OMG Oh My God tells the story of Kanji Mehta an atheist, who runs an antique shop. When disaster strikes and insurance fails he decides to take God to court for damages. That is when God comes to visit and what happens next? Well you will see when the film releases on Friday, September 29th. Check out what Akshay Kumar reveals about the film, playing God and his thoughts on religion plus so much more in this heartwarming and open interview!

You play Bhagwan/Lord Krishna (God) in OMG: Oh My God. What prompted you to take on such a role?
This is my first film under my new production company ‘Grazing Goat’, so the meaning behind this film is more than most can imagine. Probably because this is one film I would be so proud to show my father. Despite the fact that the script is extremely close to both mine and Pareshji’s heart, it truly is a beautiful, once in ‘my life time’, screen play. Everyone involved wanted me to play this role, to be honest I would never dream of portraying a ‘God’ of any kind, anyone that knows me understands my humble shyness to play such an almighty character or in this case, India’s almighty Lord Krishna. But when you have a vision (and a good shove from Pareshji himself) you just can’t turn your back on such an opportunity out of fear of being judged by ‘some’ negative parties in this world. This film has opened my eyes and my heart more than I thought possible, as an actor and as a devotee to God…

What was the toughest part about playing Lord Krishna?
The toughest part is living up to the nation’s expectations and perceptions. What my vision might be is someone else’s opinion, so to be true to my vision and respectful to the rest of the world’s lifetime of worshipping, is not an easy task. But really all I had to do was release myself from all negative and impure thoughts and actions, and just be the very being of what I have been praying to for all my years. Was it easy?! No! Was it extraordinary? Very much so!

How would you explain your equation with God?
My equation with God like many is purely on a respectful and extremely humble level. I respect all decisions made under ‘Gods’ roof, I do not argue with ‘God’, I only argue with some people that mistreat Gods’ creation and existence on this planet. For example: When did God ever say you had to pay to believe? After making this film, in all honesty I have changed my perception of how I worship God. For me ‘God’ is everywhere, why am I paying Lakhs for me and my family to fly to India’s most prestigious religious places in the hope God will acknowledge my love and devotion more. If God really is who I believe he is, then why am I paying to worship him when I can give that money to helpless children? I would feel 10 times closer to his heart than I would by spending the money on him, hopelessly! Remember, what does Mandir in Hindi really mean? ‘Man’ means inside, ‘Dir’ means heart, God is inside me always, my heart is where my temple is…
Please remember this is just my views, I’m not preaching, it’s just an example of the characteristics you will find in this beautiful comedy I call ‘OMG’.

Since you go to temples as well as Gurudwaras, besides visiting a mosque in Muscat recently, is it more about the faith than just the religion for you?
For me it is absolutely all about the faith rather than the religion. Remember I’m in love with ‘God’, not the people who speak for him. I purely respect them for their devoted nature. I visit all kinds of religious temples, churches, mosques, Gurudwaras, rocks, caves and cliffs all over the world in search of enlightenment, but really I’m just fascinated by our need to prove our devotion. For me, the best thing I love about all these places is, when I go to visit I do feel pure, pure because I know I’m safe, surrounded by people who have come to pray and not to fight. I get to sit down quietly and take in the faithful beauty around me, but my all time favourite place to pray, is at the bottom of my garden, sitting on my wall, looking out at God’s gracious sea, with my family sleeping peacefully behind me. That is when I feel God’s love and protection the most – that is when I feel I’m a good, happy devoted human being. The rest of my time I try to spend helping those less fortunate than myself, to make up for all the time I cannot devote to God himself…

Has there been any time/s or phase in life when you lost trust or came close to losing trust in God?
Never… Not even when my father died! My losing faith in God would be my weakness, not his… That is what I love so dearly about my country, even the saddest, most lonely starving person will feed his God before he feeds himself or herself. It’s not about what God gives us, who’s lucky, or who’s had it the hardest. In India, no-one gives up their Faith because of circumstance, and that, my friends, is what makes India so special. We put faith before ourselves, which is why we have the most loved country in the world. People’s hearts can never leave India only their bodies leave…

Have there been ‘Oh My God’ moments in your life? If yes, please explain some.
Many! Passing exams. Never having my nose broken when I took up karate. Completing seven Khiladi movies (about to be 8) with my life intact. Marrying the woman of my dreams ‘OMG’ ;o) Being a father when I still see myself trying to be the best son. Making a film on ‘man vs God’, Oh My God I can see my father’s face now, he’d love it with all his heart. There are ‘OMG’ moments everyday in all of our lives – it’s whether you acknowledge them, that is the beauty…

Keeping in mind the theme of the film, if you could play God for a day. What would you do during that day, and whom would you meet and bless with your presence. Anything you would do in this current life if you could play God?
It’s a tough question to ask, yet easy if you answer what one should obviously answer. Of course I would want to ‘heal the world, end all war, crime, poverty, starvation and disease’. But would that really be blessing the world, or would mankind come up with something else to destroy our sacred planet! On a more realistic note, I think all Gods just want people to feel that God is in everyone’s heart, let every single individual feel God’s hand on their shoulder. Rather than changing what God has already provided us, I would just want people to understand this is not our planet to misuse, we are all here on a rental basis, we’re born, we pay our way, we worship our God in thanks of our life, and then we pass away. I would want everyone to remember that we all come from the same place, the sooner we unite, the sooner practically all problems the world over will be solved… But that’s just me!

Despite being the son-in-law of the first superstar of the country, the late Rajesh Khanna, you never really spoke about it. Only recently has the close relationship between the two of you become known to people. Could you share some memories that you cherish with him?
You will never really hear about any relationship I share with anyone, especially a family member. Remember I was his son-in-law, but I was a struggling actor. I never wanted either him or any of the people thinking I would ever dream of reaping any form of success off my father-in-law’s stardom. We kept our respect and admiration for each other very personal and very quiet, exactly how it should have been. People may only be seeing it now, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

How would you classify this film and why should we watch it?
It’s a people’s film – it’s educational, spiritual, eye-opening and it will be life changing for some people. The whole experience was for me. See it’s a film with a message, but the message will be different for different people. You walk out of this film either enlightened, confused, or opinionated. I can imagine many coming out wanting to have a full-blown discussion about how the film made them feel. It’s an intriguing journey into the life of religion and how people use religion in India. But it’s all in good taste, sorry faith ;o).

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