Akshay Kumar: I would love to do a sex comedy
'I like to go to Goa. I have a small house there built in the Portuguese style. I also like Thailand.'
Akshay Kumar, and Holiday.
Akshay Kumar is one busy man. He has six films (Holiday, It’s Entertainment, Gabbar, Baby, Shaukeen remake and Singh Is Bling) releasing in the next 12 months.
The actor flits between promotions for the first release Holiday and his hectic shooting schedule -- he has just returned to India after shooting for Neeraj Pandey's Baby in Kathmandu and Istanbul.
But even as he busies himself with movies, Akshay tells Sonil Dedhia that box office numbers don't matter any more.
What is your new film Holiday about?
Not many people are aware of sleeper cells -- special terrorists who blend into society so well that no one realises they are terrorists. Sleeper cells did the 9/11 attacks and the 26/11 attacks.
In Holiday, some army officers return home from the front for a holiday and realise that the enemy is not only present at the border but there are a lot of enemies inside the city and village.
Holiday is an amazing film on what terrorism is all about and how the army tries to capture the sleeper cells.
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Image: Akshay Kumar
'Holiday is not a remake for me'
It’s a remake of a Tamil film...
(Interrupts) Actually, I won’t call it a remake. It was a fresh script and we were going to make it first in Hindi, but A R Murugadoss (the director) had a condition that he first wanted to make the film in Tamil.
The Tamil version called Thuppakki released in 2012. So the film is not a remake for me. It is a subject that I had selected earlier.
Vipul Shah (the film's producer) and I had gone for a narration. We sat with Murugadoss and after listening to the first half, I agreed to do the film.
The first half was mind blowing. I really enjoyed doing it.
You say the film is a serious thriller, but we see only comedy and songs in the promos. Are you trying to keep things under wraps?
You are right.
But from now on, you will start watching promos that show the seriousness of the film.
Since it is a Hindi film, there has to be some song and dance and the movie is actually called Holiday.
My character in the film comes home for a holiday and never thinks that he would face terrorism.
Image: Akshay Kumar in Holiday
'I do all my stunts because I enjoy it'
There’s a lot of hand-to-hand combat in this film…
Yes, the film has very real action. You won’t see the kind of action I did in Boss or Khiladi 786 where I would just punch and 20 people would fly in every corner.
Greg Powell, who was the stunt coordinator on Skyfall, has choreographed the action sequences in Holiday.
We haven’t taken the help of cables. If I kick someone and take a somersault, it is all real.
It is compulsory for the producer to insure all the actors. So if something happens, we are taken care of.
But that only looks after the monetary aspect.
(Thinks hard) It is part of my job. I do all my stunts because I enjoy it. I don’t do it because someone forces me to.
Image: Akshay Kumar in Holiday
'The days of box office collection are gone'
Tell us about your experience of working with A R Murugadoss.
There are lot of real incidents, which Murugaddos has shown in the film.
He is a short person but I can tell you that all he thinks is about violence. He is like a big bomb in a small packet.
I remember he would sit on the sets and stare at me. I once asked what was going in his mind. He actually told me that if I have to strangle you how will I do it and at the same time I am also thinking that if someone is strangling me, how would someone save me.
His films are full of real violence.
He actually goes to the police station and reads the cases, studies them and tries to implement it in his films.
Do box office figures today determine the star value of an actor?
The days of box office collection are gone. The audience wants to see content in films and if there is content, then it automatically gets you good box-office figures.
I did Holiday because there was content in it. It is not a typical Akshay Kumar film where I am doing fun and comedy all the time.
Yes, there is a little bit of comic element in Holiday but otherwise the film is a serious thriller.
Do you deliberately choose to play larger-than-life characters in masala entertainers, and at the same time do roles like in Special 26 or produce a film like Oh My God which did well?
The content has become the most important thing for me but I have to do films like Boss or Khiladi 786.
People are making more commercial cinema than character-driven films. I would love to do character-driven films but the roles have to come to me.
Also, I have to diversify all the time. Our media is like a hawk that will catch anything they feel is repetitive.
Image: A R Murugadoss and Akshay Kumar
'I have never manipulated my career'
Which are your favourite holiday destinations?
I like to go to Goa. I have a small house there built in the Portuguese style. I like spending time there with my family. I also like Thailand.
With such a busy schedule, how often do you take holidays?
I take a week off every three or four months. I have one annual holiday which is a month long.
I have divided my life very well and try to take six to seven holidays in a year to spend some quality time with my family.
You are one of the busiest actors with a release every three months. Wouldn’t you prefer to have a longer gap between your films?
I would love to but the release of the film is not in my hands. My last film Boss released nine months back.
The producers have invested their money and they have specific reasons to release a film on a particular date.
I told Reliance (co-producers of Holiday) and Vipul to release the film a little earlier but they decided to release the film in June.
My next film It’s Entertainment releases on August 8 and then Gabbar will release.
I can manipulate the producers, but I have never done that. I have never manipulated my career.
Image: Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha in Holiday
'For me, martial arts is not about earning money'
Sex comedies are working well these days. Would you like to do one?
Yes, if it’s a good film I would love to do it. The sex comedy genre is really good.
I did Garam Masala, which can be termed a sex comedy.
Grand Masti became a big hit.
I don’t think people should take films so seriously. At the end of the day, it’s just a film. By doing a sex comedy, I won’t become a sex maniac and vulgarity won’t become a part of my life.
A lot of actors are investing in sports. Recently, Abhishek Bachchan has invested in kabbadi, John Abraham has invested in football. Do you have any such plans?
I do what I believe in. I believe in martial arts and hence I promote it. I want to put my money in it.
For me, martial arts is not about earning money. It has taught me a lot.
I have my own tournament. I invite students from all over the world. I even send them to Japan.
I want kids to be taught martial arts in school.
Image: Akshay Kumar
'I want to give my children a normal childhood'
Are you personally taking any initiative to spread awareness of the importance of martial arts?
I am in talks with the government to have martial arts as a compulsory subject for boys and girls. I look forward to the day every student learns martial arts for at least three years.
It is my dream. I feel a certificate in martial arts is more important than a certificate in physics or maths.
Your son Aarav is also learning martial arts.
Yes, my son is a brown belt. He has just won a gold medal in judo at the national championship.
I am a proud father. I am happy he is doing this.
What are the joys of watching your kids growing up?
It’s absolutely a delight; it’s the biggest joy for any father.
Earlier, when I finished my shoot, I wasn’t really interested in going home. But after my kids were born, I would wait to finish work so that I could rush back home and spend time with them.
I want to hear them calling me daddy, dad, dada. It’s something which I can never measure.
Do you deliberately keep your kids away from the limelight?
Yes. I think it is better to keep children away from all this that is seen everywhere in newspapers and all. I want to give them a normal childhood.
Image: Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar with their son Aarav
Photographs: Rediff Archives
'Twinkle's luck factor has worked for me'
How has your wife Twinkle contributed to your success? Does she read your scripts?
When they say that behind every man’s success is a woman, it doesn’t mean that they read their scripts.
Yes, her luck factor has worked for me. She has supported me in all my decisions and has always been there.
She has her own life and she is busy with it. She is happy that we have a good family and we are all together.
Are there any plans for her to make a comeback in movies?
No, I asked her and she says she wants to be happy (laughs).
Image: Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar