All it took was a huge pothole on a road leading to a very plush mall in Saket, South Delhi to remind Akshay Kumar of “being home”. Yes, that is right. When the minivan we were in, went over a pothole (more like went ‘into’ it) one of India’s most loved superstars dramatically placed a hand on his heart and smiled, “F-i-n-a-l-l-y, this feels like home.” Now, one understood why his preoccupation – all the way from Connaught Place to Saket had seemed to be on how smooth Delhi’s roads were! So unlike Mumbai! He sure was missing home.
But missing home or not, exhausted or not, a commitment is a commitment. So, despite having wrapped up a 13-hour, late night shoot in Mumbai, Akshay was in the City to promote Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26, which releases Friday. “To have this film’s DVD on my shelf will be a great honour. I don’t know about its business part but I am very privileged to be a part of this film,” says our man, sounding most unlike a producer-actor whose films are regular entrants to the coveted 100 crore club.
This from a man who is today a brand unto himself, who had stuck to his guns despite 14 flops in a row and is now rising one steady step at a time! Someone who has gone from being a star to a superstar and an actor, and who has worked across genres like action, comedy, romance et al: “Earlier it was a conscious decision to stick to one genre but now I want to keep jumping from one form to another. I’d love to play a pure villain. I want to keep moving. I no longer want to tag myself, either as an action hero or a comic hero. I want to do all kinds of films and that includes Once upon a time in Mumbai, Boss and Special 26….”
But ‘action and comedy’ is a combo already explored. What’s different this time? “There are many ways of doing a comedy. Special 26 is a very ‘dry comedy.’ I am not making an effort to be funny. Nobody is making an effort. The humour arises from situations, its timing subtle. And action, this is mind action. It is fighting without fighting.” How did he prepare? “For this, Neeraj specifically told me to ‘do nothing’, ‘to just be’. That’s it. But like for Rowdy…, I tried out many different things. I was allowed to. Different films, different approach. Mostly I sit in a corner, look at people, try to imagine what it would be like to be that person, what his life is like, what could his problems be, what could he be thinking right now…. But generally, I don’t delve too deeply.”
Just as well, for he manages beautifully without. For instance, the song Mujh mein tu that Akshay has sung without orchestral support for Special…. was prepared in just under three hours! “I could do whatever I could because (M.M) Kreem sahib made me do it.” And what a fine job it is. Any plans for taking up an alternate profession? “I will never take up singing professionally. I know my limits.”
He knows his limits but his fans and colleagues know better… knowing that Akshay will always push himself just that bit more.