By Shama Bhagat
After two flops in a row, Akshay Kumar is trying to make a comeback of sorts but he is unfazed. He has done it too many times and after a couple of flops, he always bounces back with a hit.
We met the star on the sidelines of a promotional tour of his forthcoming film where he plays a soldier. He was his usual warm and cordial self and took all our questions sportingly.
Here’s the conversation that we had…
Why are you taking up so many Tamil remakes? Is it because they are safe bets at the box office?
Murugadoss had discussed this subject with me even before he had made the film in Tamil. He wanted to do it in Hindi first. I had agreed to do the film then but some how it didn’t work out. He therefore made it first in Tamil. I would say that Holiday is a remake in that sense.
Is it true that you want to play it safe at the box office and not take too many risks with the film’s content…
I don’t agree with you. Both (good content and masala) are important. If the content is good then the film will automatically do well at the box office. People now-a-days want to see good content and box office numbers (whether the film is popular or not) make no difference to that section of the audience. They keep away from films if the content is not good. Box office numbers keep fluctuating but good content always gets good numbers. If I believe in the script and the concept of a film, I will always do the film. I liked the concept of Fugly and Holiday and that is the sole reason why I signed those films. If you see these films, you will notice that they are not ‘typical Akshay Kumar films’, if you know what I mean.
You are saying that Holiday is a serious film but from the first promo, it appears that the film is all about romance…
We wanted to promote it like that in the first promo. According to the script, the soldier (played by Akshay Kumar) comes on a holiday when the events unfold. Hence we released promos that show the lighter side of the film. It’s Hindi cinema so there will be song and dance. The second promo of the film will deal with the serious side of the film.
Your films are generally overloaded with action, do you acknowledge the fact that stuntmen and body doubles are not given due credit in this industry?
Earlier they were not given proper credit but now they are in the limelight too and they do get a lot of credit. We also take care of the crew. I can tell you that on my sets we had arranged for an ambulance that was always on the standby. We also had a doctor on the sets and on top of that, we had coordinated with the nearby hospitals and had arranged for two emergency beds, if we needed it. So much for safety. The stunt coordinator for this film (Greg Powell) was also the action co-coordinator for Hollywood films like Skyfall. I can assure you that Bollywood has become professional when it comes to stunts and action scenes.
Did you insure your stuntmen?
We are all insured by the producers for the film.
We heard that you are producing regional films too…
Its time to diversify. I feel that I am being watched all the time and I need to try different things to survive in this competitive market. I will produce different kinds of films and act in different kinds of films.
Why did you agree to such back-to-back releases? Won’t you get exposed too much in the media?
My last release was nine months ago. Every producer comes to me with a date in mind. They decide when to release as they know their job well. They have invested so much so you can’t argue with them. I try to avoid having conflicts with my producers but don’t try to manipulate them by resorting to cheap tactics like not dubbing for the film or something like that. Sometimes my films release too close to each other and I can’t do anything about it. My films Baby, Gabbar and It’s Entertainment are ready, I would prefer if there was a gap in between their releases.
What is your opinion on sex comedies which have faced a lot of criticism lately?
If I get to act in a sex comedy, I will surely do the project. That genre is very good. I have done Garam Masala earlier. At the end of the day, it’s just a film. Vulgarity doesn’t become a part of your life unless you want it. It’s just a film. People love such films and the success of films like Grand Masti proves that.
It seems you have opted out of hosting television shows…
No, I can’t do any television show right now. My hands are full.
We heard you are starting a martial arts schools for girls?
I have my own tournament where students are invited to participate. The boys and girls are then trained and are sent to Japan (for an international tournament). I had earlier spoken to the (Maharashtra) government and suggested that Martial Arts should be introduced schools as a compulsory subject.
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I don’t understand how constantly making remakes equals to do something new and this applies not just to Akshay but others who are improving or trying to improve their careers with remakes too. I saw Thuppakki (Holiday’s Tamil original). The film is a masala entertainer with some flaws. But I think it worked because of Vijay. I personally could get through the film because of Vijay. I’m not so sure that Akshay can do the same in the Hindi version. But I’ll guess we’ll find out soon.