In Boss, there is no cable action because youngsters are getting bored of it. They feel that the actors are not doing much ó the cables are in all the jumps etc. In this film I have avoided cables.
I just sit with my 10-year-old son and he gives me so much input. I get introduced to new music, new cinema, short films on YouTube courtesy Aarav.
The going has been good for Akshay Kumar despite a mixed verdict on his films ó a successful Special 26 and then Once Upon A Time in Mumbai Dobaara which fell short of expectations. On the other hand, 72 Miles Ek Pravas, a Marathi film under his banner Grazing Goat picked up critical acclaim, but in characteristic khiladi style, heís back on his feet doing what heís best at ó putting out a slew of movies in theatres. Kumar will soon be seen collaborating with producer -director Karan Johar for film under Dharma banner besides Gabbar with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Itís Entertainment, a venture he has signed with Ramesh Taurani. A film with Neeraj Pandey could also be on cards though the actor has not made a final decision on it.
Busy shooting for Tamil director A.R Murugadossís Holiday, a Hindi remake of Thupaaki, under his home banner named Cape of Good Films. Actor Akshay Kumar, during breaks in the shooting, answers a few questions about his upcoming film Boss and asks a few of his own:
From the trailer that one has seen, Boss looks and feels rather different from your earlier films this year, so what can one expect?
Why donít I ask you ó you have seen the promo, what do you think of it?
Let me hazard a guess, an action-drama?
You are right ó there is a lot of action, what else can you expect from me? It is a remake of a Malayalam film (Pokkiri Raja), a bit of a situational comedy about a father and son and their relationship. I saw this movie ó actually my partner Ashwin Varde saw it and showed it to me. We all loved it and decided to make it. The emotions that I have always enjoyed those that define a father and son relationship ó are there in this film. Actually even without realising it I have done several father-son films in my career ó Waqt with Amitabh Bachchan, Jaanwar where I played a father, Patiala House and now this one. This is one relationship I enjoy the most. You wonít believe it, but we donít have too many films in Hindi about father and son. Itís more about mother and son; no doubt that is a very important relationship, but we ignore the important role that a father plays. We donít even have a song on the father.
Daddy was one such film that had a song dedicated to the protagonistís father.
Daddy bas ek thi ó bhai-behen ke rishte pe hai, doston ki kahaani par hai, maa pe to hazaaron gaane hain par baap pe nahin hai because this relationship is always taken for granted. Or maybe itís just me who feels that way because I shared a very special bond with my father. So this the core of the film. It has good songs. Besides, the title song, Party all night, there is a lovely pitaah song.
With Boss you have even turned mentor to two young actors; what made you pick them for the role? Have you extended this to mentoring young talent in other departments too ólike writers, etc?
Shiv (Pandit) and Aditi (Rao Hyadri) are both very good. The team and I thought that they would be perfect for the parts they play. Heís a handsome, good-looking young boy. I really enjoyed the first film that he did óShaitaanóhe had done a very good job. Aditi works from the heart, is a very good actress, with a vulnerable face so we decided that they should be a part of our film. Shiv and I are brothers and sons to Mithun Chakraborty.
As for mentoring talent, I like people with bright ideas. I have told Ashwini (Yardi) and Ashwin to keep their eyes open to new talent. I have started taking risks, even opting for character roles in films helmed by good directors. Special 26 was like that. I would also like to take Boss ahead.
Why have two production houses for your films ó Grazing Goat and The Cape of Good Films?
Both are under my banner ó Grazing Goat and Cape of Good Films. My partner Ashwini comes up with ideas for the so-called intellectual, sensible commercial cinema so we made OMG: Oh My God and 72 Miles. And now we are making another Marathi film called Adhantari and a Punjabi film called Bhaaji in Trouble. We keep on making these along with Hindi films, thatís why I have kept these two separate companies which cover all ground. We are also making a film called Fugly. But right now we are working on Holiday.
Given that you are a star with acting commitments outside as well, how involved are you as a professional?
I hear the script once it has been whetted by the team. I hear it once or twice and then the approval comes from both of us. We donít just settle for star power, looking instead for script power when finalising a project. The whole idea is to do different kinds of films, even a few that can actually make a difference to the society.
In the present scenario, is it now a necessity to dabble in all kinds of cinema? And of course, television.
You have to balance yourself between the entertainers and engaging cinema because otherwise the film industry wonít let you survive. You have to balance your portfolio.You have to do something different every once a while. And the way trends change every year, what you talk about today can change completely when we talk, say, a year later. That is bound to happen with the way cinema audienceís taste is changing. Even their sense of humour has changed. The way they look at a fight, cinematography, everything has changed, and itís changing so fast that sometimes it really feels like you are lagging behind. The developments keep you on your toes. You have to keep pace with what is happening around. Itís actually become imperative to stay abreast with what is happening in Hollywood, to read about what kind of technology is coming in or the different kinds of cinema being made in Australia, England and America. Even the kind of television series that are coming in.
Actually I just sit with my 10-year-old son and he gives me so much input. I have not even heard of some of the films he watches. I get introduced to new music, new cinema, short films on YouTube courtesy Aarav. Most times I am in awe by the stuff he comes up with like videoclips on YouTube; itís amateurish but somewhere that amateur video gives you an inkling about the future and what people are going to be watching. Itís great that I have a 10-year-old, who keeps introducing me to new ideas and new worlds. For now, I have stopped television work as I have these productions and my own films that I am acting in, so I have a lot on my plate.
Action and comedy ó two genres that you have mastered ó do you think the scripts that work within those are different from what got you the audience, say even two years ago?
Two years ago, I would never think that somebody could make a film on zombies. Hindi cinema never had the word Ďzombieí in its lexicon, but itís great that a film like Go Goa Gone was made and people liked it . There was an audience that watched and enjoyed it. So something was introduced to the audience and they are now aware of a new idea. A few years ago, even the idea of it would not have been entertained. Recently I saw a very good film Monsoon Shootout, which has a cop who has three points of view at the same moment. What a brilliant idea! Many a times, when surfing the internet you realise there is so much information available. If you want to survive, you have to be tech and internet savvy.
As for action in Boss, there is no cable action because youngsters are getting bored of it. They feel that the actors are not doing much ó the cables are in all the jumps etc. In this film I have avoided cables because an actor has to work on his kicks and punches. The climax usually has the hero fighting 20-30 guys, but in this itís just me and Ronit Roy. No goons ó just a pure fight between a strong villain and hero ó man to man. After a long time youíll see us (Ronit and I) in a hand-to-hand combat of about six and a half minutes.
Do films like Blue, your earlier underwater adventure film with Anthony DíSouza now find greater acceptance within the industry, particularly among financiers?
I was watching Warning, a film about the survival of some people in water and it was interesting. Today, what matters is a good idea and how you can elaborate that and turn it into a script that people can relate to. Once you have done that you can be rest assured that it will be successful.
Today the script is the hero so even character actors can land great roles. That was not the case earlier. In Hollywood ó even if an actor is above 50, he can still be a dominant presence in films and be the numero uno. It is happening here too, but we will see more of that now.
Does being a producer also allow you the latitude to fund films that fall outside of studio tentpole projects like Tom Hanks who produced Larry Crowne, a film about a middle-aged man who loses his job due to recession and signs up at the university to educate himself?
Yes, that happens to a lot of people when studios are not interested. In fact I help a lot of people when studios donít like their scripts. Sometimes if I like the film, I just take over it. I would love to buy such films because I know how much pain a producer goes through and the effort that a director puts in. An individual can understand it rather than a studio because a studio involves the brain of too many people. You have to be satisfied with the creativity of the film. Itís a risk that sometimes pays off and sometimes it doesnít, but thatís the nature of our business.
With Grazing Goat have you moved away from the leave-your-brains-at -home kind of commercial cinema that was once the mainstay of Hindi cinema?
Because that is the right way because I have to answer to my wife. She also asked me, ďWhat are you making?Ē My sister and son would also question me. I have to answer that by balancing the kinds of cinema they would like to see. Itís not only about what I think or that I am always right. Itís about my family and team, who work with me. Thatís how I do it. The changes around got me thinking. It takes you one or two movies to realise things are changing. So many people asked me how I could think of making a film about a man who is suing God? ĎNahin lega, India nahin lega yaar. Tu aisa God ko sue nahin kar sakta hai. You know how Indians love their gods.í But we went ahead with it and our instinct paid off very well.
Your most cherished role so far?
I have played a lot of roles. But if I have to pin-point then I enjoyed Sangharsh and I would like to play a role like that again. I tried in 8 by 10, but didnít succeed.
As a fallout of those choices, one now hears of these eclectic films Akshay Kumar is producing as opposed to the whopping fee that you were reported to charge producers.
True. That was always the case. But somebody has to be there to pay it naó itís not like I put a gun to the producerís head for them to pay me. It is the producer who feels that if he is earning so much, he would not mind sharing profits. That was one of the reasons I decided that I make films so that my remuneration should just become zero. I just make a film. If it does well, I earn a lot, if it doesnít, I donít earn that much, but I always try to ensure that itís not a flop.
As an actor is there any trend that you pioneered?
I was the first to do remakes and the part 2 system like Khiladi, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Sabse Bada Khiladi which have been around for so long. Nobody made Deewar 2 or Deewaron Ka Deewar.
So what is the challenge for the Khiladi now?
I hope I donít lose track and fall behind people, I want to be along with them because things are changing so fast. When I became an actor things used to change every five years or three years at the earliest, now they will change every six months and the day is not far when they change every month. Every month, there will be a new flavour. Itís good to be on your toes, but in this scenario, you have to work very hard and keep your eyes open.