Akshay Kumar is one of Bollywood’s biggest stars and 2007 proved to be a banner year. He had not one but four huge hits with Namastey London, Heyy Babyy, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Welcome, actually four and a half he says including Om Shanti Om. Recently Akshay sat down with Rajeev Masand, CNN-IBN’s Entertainment Editor, and talked about his films, doing stunts, and whom he thinks is the best actor in Bollywood. Here are some highlights from that interview.
When asked which of the four of his blockbuster films of last year was his favorite Akshay replied, “Do I have a favourite out of the four? Om Shanti Om! But honestly, I really enjoyed Namastey London because it is very much my kind of a film. Bhool Bhulaiyaa was also very exciting because it was a different kind of a role. I had never attempted to do something like that.”
He gave away the secret to his success revealing, “If you want, I can write down my secret formula so that people remember it all their lives. Okay, first you write Om. That’s what I always do. Then comes dedication, which is followed by talent. Subtract arrogance. Divide it by luck. That is equal to hit machine. But, tell you what, prayers work much better than this formula or maths.”
Rajeev asked him, “Is there a part of you that still wants to win over critics, or is it not important because the films are working anyway?” To that Akshay said, “Honestly, tell me something. Shouldn’t I go for something which people enjoy? I don’t care what critics have to say about it. One or two times, you have also written something bad about me, but I don’t care about that. I really like my people and want my audience to be entertained. I want to make them laugh. They come and spend 150 rupees on a ticket. What do they want? Koi ro ke nahi jaana chahta yaar. (Nobody wants to leave the movie hall feeling sad.) Everybody wants to laugh.”
Even with having the most hits last year, Akshay still was not honored with an award and about that he said, “To me awards don’t matter. For me it’s more about rewards. I go, perform, get paid, and I am very happy about it. Beyond that, I don’t care.”
The talk then turned to Akshay and the dangerous stunts he does in his movies. One of those stunts involved swimming with sharks. “It was not scary when I thought about swimming with the sharks. I thought everything will be okay. But when I was about to jump, the instructor cautioned to me to not play around much as about seven days back a shark had taken out some other visitor’s hand. The instructor tells me just as I am about to jump in!”
Akshay added that since there were lots of fans at the shoot so he felt he had to go through with it though he was really scared, “I thought, Bahot log dekh rahe hai. Badi insult hogi yaar. (A lot of people are watching me. It will be very insulting if I don’t go now.)” Interesting side note is that the scene was cut from the film.
His scariest stunt? “There was a film called Khiladi 420. I had to catch this running plane and climb it. People are scared of sitting inside a plane, and like a stupid man I am standing on top of a plane. And then I’m supposed to jump from that plane, after it is a thousand feet up in the air, onto a hot air balloon. I did it in one shot. I was wearing a parachute. After that, I promised myself that I will never do such a thing. It’s not a great thing to do. I did it because maybe there was something loose inside my head.”
Adding a big caution, “One thing I must tell you all is that don’t try these things. Day before yesterday, my son tried to go through a glass door. He’s only five! He banged his head on the door and fell down. I said what are you trying to do! He said, ‘Daddy, aapne kiya tha. Maine dekha tha. (Daddy, I saw you doing that once.)’ I said don’t ever try to do that.”
Rajeev also asked him, “The last you saw such a fantastic performance that you called him or her to compliment them on their work.” Akshay replied, “I called up Ranvir for Mithya. I think he was brilliant in that film. He is the best actor I have seen in Bollywood.”
He answered that the one film that makes him wince if he sees it on DVD or television is, “I think 70 per cent of my old films do that to me. My son doesn’t find anything embarrassing in them. He loves my movies.”
Finally Rajeev said: “Akshay something that I have heard a lot about you is that there’s never a dull moment when Akshay’s around.”
Akshay answered both jokingly and in the end seriously, “Whenever Bipasha Basu complains that she is tired I tell her Aur bol maan ko ki mujhe heroin ban na hai. Bahot aasaan hota hai jaa ke AC gaadi main baith jao. (Yes, do you see how convincing your mother to let you become an actress wasn’t a good idea? You thought it was only about going and relaxing in air-conditioned cars.) No, truth be told, it is very difficult to be in this industry and work as an actor. It is a very difficult job.”