Akshay Kumar, who carries his stardom lightly on his shoulders, can be funny when he wants to be. We discovered this one sweltering afternoon, when the superstar invited us home for a quick-chat. Here’s a glimpse of the paisa vasool interview that followed!
On The Shaukeens
I had seen the original Shaukeen, it was amazing. The concept of three old men smitten by a girl tempted me to revisit the story in a contemporary style. A friend helped me get the rights of the film. I have always asked all my friends (and I ask you today), which man would not give a good-looking woman a second glance? No one has ever replied in the negative. Lets be honest, youve got to be bloody stupid to not be drawn to a woman. You are depriving yourself of being a man, and answering your natural instincts. Hamare desh mein isse tharakpan kehte hain.
On Being Wary About ‘A Certificate
The original Shaukeen had got an A certificate in 1982, fortunately our film did not get that certificate. I was a little afraid for our film as the idea is the same, but Abhishek Sharma has treated the story so well that it comes across as a cute film. The old men here are not lecherous; all they want is to see Lisas (Haydon) character in a bikini. And shes not even aware of their intentions. Im sure people are ready for a story like this now, at least the Censor Board agrees with me.
On The Issue Of Censorship
No one learns to drink by seeing a song or a film. Nor does anyone learn to rob by seeing an actor do that in a movie. A lot of things are fake in a film, and should not be taken too seriously. I always warn the audience even when I do a show that involves risk. Maybe the warnings work. Cigarettes are the best example. The makers consciously put bad photos on packets, which is a good as people should know what they are getting into if they smoke.
On Playing Himself
Im a teetotaller. I dont smoke, I dont party. I dont even have beverages or lech at girls. And here I am playing myself in the film, but as an alcoholic. Since I lead a boring life, we decided to make the character more colourful and show him as a temperamental person, whos also an alcoholic. Otherwise, youd wonder what the fuss was all about in being Akshay Kumar. I dont want to take names, but there are people who have vodka in nariyal paani or juice. They get a bit tipsy at work, but feel that this actor survives on healthy food. No one knows the key ingredient in that actors food! I thought it was funny to include that.
On Discovering His Funny Side
I didnt know I could be funny till I met Priyadarshan and Rajkumar Santoshi. They made me realise I could be convincing as a comic actor. The action-star image has a lot to do with it. When Amitabh Bachchan breaks into comedy in the middle of an intense scene, or when Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee does that, it seems funnier than it would otherwise.
On The Variety Of Roles
I have ample skill-sets to offer now. I dont just get offers for action films. I have completed 126 films, out of which 86 are hits. Ive played a variety of characters across the films that Ive done like Special 26, Rowdy Rathore or others. I like to add variations to my work. For instance, laughing at myself while being me on screen, was a challenging part.
On His Conscious Choices
I dont want to be known as that actor who plays only a hero in every film of his.Singh Is Bling is the only film among my new assignments, where I play a complete hero. Reinvention is a must for every actor.
On what went wrong with Dare To Dance
I think the opening rating was okay, but it could have done much better. Its difficult to pinpoint one thing that went against the show. Probably, it came very close to what Fear Factor used to be.If you ask me, I dont know if Ill go back to Fear Factor now. I havent even been offered the next season.
On Star Power
I dont care for star power. It doesnt make sense to me. Some heroes do one or two films a year, and some do just one film in two years. I do four films a year. And I have been this way forever. Its easy for me. I have enough time for it. I am virtually free all the time. I am the only hero who does four films, takes 45 days off in a row and goes on week-long holidays once every three months. I can afford it because I finish work on time. I watch my children growing up though I finish four films in a year. It starts with being punctual.
On No-Holiday Releases
I am not saying that I want to depart from stardom, but I just do my work. I dont wait for a festival or a holiday to release my films. I just make my films in good time and with a decent budget. It does well for everyone, including me. I have simple math: I produce it, so no fee for me. I make films on a budget of under-30 crore. We sell the rights and pocket the money invested on shoots. The box-office business decides my fee; good opening means a higher take-home and bad box-office means less money in my account, but there is no loss for anyone working with me.
Rising Costs Of Production
It shoots up only when you dont know your script and take 280 days to shoot. So many filmmakers do that. Surprisingly, they are looked at as kamaal ke directors. People admire them since they take long to make their films. How much does it take to get a shirt stitched? About 2.5 meters of cloth? But is it something praiseworthy that someone used a team to stitch one shirt? He is not a good tailor. I think 40-60 days is good enough for a film to be canned. Mission Impossible was shot in 47 days. Why? They had the script in hand and each one knew what he or she is doing. I dont think any Indian film is made on a bigger scale or budget than that, but we still take 200 days on one film. The cost will naturally shoot up. If an actor comes at 7 am, rolls at 10 am and shoots 12 hours, a film can be wrapped up in a no time with Sundays off for the units. Neeraj Pandey for instance, spent one year on writing Baby, and just 50 days of shooting to complete it.
On Choosing Money Or Matter
I want to do something good with every movie. I am not counting the 100-crores we have added. I am interested in my role, and whether my family and kids will enjoy it. Aarav even tells me that certain films Ive done are stupid and crappy. He doesnt mince words. I prefer to go on that route.
On Producing Quality Content
I look for a good script. I look for something different in each script. I want to bet my money on something risky that will be worth the money. I was warned against making Oh My God but the risk was worth it.
On Keeping Himself Motivated
I am greedy and hungry as an actor. I am eager for the next morning every day. I take keen interest in what I am doing next.