Akshay Kumar: In Sooryavanshi, I did the kind of stunts I would do at age 20
With Rohit shetty ’S Sooryavanshi , Akshay Kumar is back into the hardcore action zone. A space that is close to his heart and one that he can never completely leave behind. He says, I'm glad that I could do it all over again at 52, with the same focus and agility. Today, as the trailer of the film unveils, the actor speaks to BT about his deep respect for our men in uniform, how his family and foundation has helped shape his career and what drove him to return to his roots - high-octane action, blended with a story that is relevant to today 'S times. Excerpts ...
This year, he completed 30 years in the business and still remains strong. In the entertainment world, that is considered a long term ...
I think I'm lucky to have had luck with only 30% of hard work. I am grateful for all that destiny and this industry have given me.
Over the past 12 months, images on social media have given us a glimpse of the kind of action that has been packed into Sooryavanshi. After a string of films like Good Newwz, Mission Mangal, Padman and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which covered a variety of subjects, what prompted you to perform daredevil stunts on screen, all over again?
Yaar, bandar kitna bhi buddha ho jaaye, gulatiyan maarna nahi bhoolta, aur na hi chhodta hai. Woh kalabaaziyan toh karega hi na (laughs!). Honestly, I enjoy performing stunts and it makes me happy to be able to pull it off without the use of computer graphics. When you see the trailer today, you will realize that I've performed the kind of stunts that I used to do when I was in my late 20s and early 30s. I've used the techniques that I had learned early on in my life. For instance, we have performed a chopper stunt, which I had first attempted when I was 28 years old. I'm glad that I could do it all over again at 52, with the same focus and agility. I've often heard the audience complain about the quality of VFX in action scenes and so, Rohit and I ensured that we don't use VFX in at least 90 per cent of action sequences. However, I've realized that it's safer to do stunts now. Rohit and his team are extremely vigilant and careful. They had worked out every scene in detail, including the action sequences.
You have done 11 films in about three years, and that ’S an impressive number. While most of them worked at the box office, some didn’t hit the bull ’S eye. Are you nervous about Sooryavanshi, as, in our movies, there has been a lot of growth in the action space in the last few years?
All my films are important to me. In fact, my flops are dearer and more important for me because they caution me to take a step back and analyze what went wrong. I remember, there was a time when I saw 14 flops in a row. When I was working on the 14th film, I thought yeh to chal jayegi, lekin nahi chali. And then, when I thought yeh 15th film ka pata nahi kya hoga, it worked. It ended my spell of flops. So, it’s difficult to say what works and what doesn’t. My experiences have taught me that the result of a film is never in your hands. You just have to keep faith in whatever you do and give it your best. That is all that I do, and that is what I have done with Sooryavanshi, too.
It’s known that you are fascinated by roles that require you to be a ‘man in uniform’. Was that one of the reasons you agreed to be a part of this film?
I have a special kind of love and reverence for uniforms because my father was in the army and I had always seen him wear his uniform, proudly. In the case of Sooryavanshi , I got a chance to revisit that space of a hardcore commercial action film. It gave me that sense of déjà vu, as I performed the kind of action that I did years ago. There ’S no one better than Rohit shetty for this. And, when he narrated the subject of this film to me, I was more than happy to become a part of his cop universe. It ’S a successful, home-grown universe of heroic police officers.
You have also collaborated with Katrina Kaif After a considerable gap. What difference do you see in her as an actor today?
There’s a world of difference. Of course, it was fun working with her because we’ve worked together on many films in the past. She has a considerable part to play in Sooryavanshi. It has been wonderful to see her growth as an actor. Her command of Hindi has improved manifold. I remember there was a crucial scene in the film, which was intense and high on emotions. She handled it well and there are quite a few scenes, which make you realize that she has come into her own as an actor. She has shown that she is more than someone who is good-looking and a great dancer.
There have been several films in the past that have focused on the commendable work that the police force does. On the other hand, there have also been films that have created a weak imagery of the police force on screen. Rohit shetty ’S cop universe has always shown the heroism of the force.
Every uniform - whether it ’S of the police or the defense forces - is worn by someone, who can have a negative side or positive side. If some films in the past have shown cops with shades of gray, it’s only to say that being like that does not help. Being corrupt or doing things that are against your duty does not pay you dividends. In its own way, a film like Khakee He showed the daring side of the cops. Rohit took it a few more steps and turned it into a series of commercial films about a savior or heroic rakshak in a police uniform. He created an image of the police bigger than life, which I think is commendable because these khaki men are not as large in number as the aam board, but they give everything to make sure the city breathes in peace.
After being part of movies for so many years as an actor, and now also as a producer, is there anything you fear?
Being scared is the first step towards doing things right. There’s good fear and bad fear in all of us. Good fear makes you cautious and helps you measure everything before you set out to do it. I have a lot of fear in me, but it’s the good fear, which makes me think things through before I start off. Of course, a wrong decision can take your career downhill. You can’t avert accidents like these completely, but some caution can reduce its impact. Today, as an actor, I don't want to repeat myself. Even if I revisit a genre, it should be after a considerable gap. Also, the reason I don’t feel insecure and inhibited about anything, is my family. The foundation of this was laid during my childhood. Jab paise kum the, hum tab bhi khush the, aaj paise hain tab bhi utne hi khush hain. Main kya leke aaya tha iss industry mein jisko khone ki chinta karun!
How often have you been surprised by the result of something you've worked on?
Too many times. In this industry, there are surprises all the time. There are times when you’ve thought that something will work, it doesn’t and strangely, something you did not bank on, works. There’s nothing that you can be too sure of in your life. You can only be sure of being a professional, doing your job and not hurting people with your words. In simple terms, mind your own business. Remembering your basics and staying connected with your roots is way cooler than forgetting them. People find it amusing that I sleep and wake up early. When people question me about it, I find that funny. When people joke about the work I pull off in a year, I feel like telling them that you can do it too, but you chose not to.