Fight to the top

Bollywood buzz
Last Updated 08 August 2015, 18:48 IST

Akshay Kumar’s last two films, Baby and Gabbar Is Back, almost touched the 100 crore domestic mark, and his third film in 2015, Brothers, is likely to be bigger and better. An emotional family drama about a father and two brothers, it is Akshay’s first with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.

“Yes, I know it is my first film with the banner, but I look for a good script. Maybe they signed me only now because I did not have sufficient talent before,” he jokes, when we ask what he feels about working with them.

Wryly humorous, he also makes light of his new, slimmer avatar with the remark: “They told Sidharth Malhotra, who plays my brother, to beef up by about 12 kilos. So I had to trim down the same amount!” The actor, however, is all praise for his co-star and generously says, “Sidharth is so good that you feel he has been around for 10 years, and this is just his third or fourth film.”

Brothers on set

The actors, separated by over 20 years in age and acting experience, shared a fantastic bond. “That happens when you share the same mother tongue and find you can converse in it,” smiles the action star, as he rattles off their bonding points: “We are both Punjabis from Delhi, we both are fond of eating. At the same time, both of us are health freaks who believe in early to bed, early to rise. We also have fathers from the Army.”

Jackie Shroff, who plays his father on reel, is someone with whom he has a lot of fun. “We keep pulling each other’s legs,” he says about the actor who has worked with him before in Aan — Men At Work 11 years ago, as well as in Bhagam Bhag in 2006. “This time we have a major connection. He is the father caught between we two warring sons, and does not know whose side he must take.”

Jacqueline Fernandez plays his wife. “Brothers also deals with money problems that the common man has. She is my wife and we also have a daughter. I guarantee you that more than women, men are the ones who will cry while watching this strong emotional drama that portrays family as the most important unit of all.”

This, he says, will happen despite the hardcore action in the film, which is an official adaptation of the Hollywood movie Warriors. “Around 40 per cent of the film is adapted, the rest is original,” he informs. “The film is about mixed martial arts, a sport that blends different kinds of martial arts from all over the world. This is a violent sport, next probably only to a street-fight. Bones are broken and blood is spilt. This gruesome sport needs a different mindset. Over 60 per cent of the fights shown in the film are real fights with contact shown on face, stomach or chest.”

Elaborating on this, Akshay goes on, “The sport needs what is known as conditioning of the body with sticks as well as hands. It took us five months of training — this film can be ranked numbers 1 to 10 among my actioners, because whichever film comes next will be at 11. Brothers took a lot out of me.”

Akshay adds that Sidharth and he were told to use ice-packs compulsorily for 15 minutes at the end of each action-packed day. “I have a lot of hopes from this film!” he says.

The actor is unruffled when asked why he and other actors do not match up to the three Khans in business. “If you see my four films in a year, they cost a moderate Rs 30 crore or so each. Baby made Rs 95 crore in India. We must see the return of investment too. The films of the Khans are priced between Rs 100 and 120 crore, and then do business of Rs 200 crore or so.”

But he adds, “I don’t think that we heroes are about numbers. Look, we are not race horses at the Mumbai race course. What I would like is for our entire industry to become Number 1 in the world, not just any star.”

Global appeal

Having delivered this punch, Akshay gets going on something he is extremely passionate about. “Look, we are improving and are now making movies that make Rs 300 to 500 crore globally. The audience has evolved and wants solid and different content. But to make good content, money is needed. In Brothers, for example, we needed money to pay our trainers from abroad. Despite all the constraints, we can still make and be proud of a film like Bahubali — The Beginning that cost Rs 210 crore — our costliest venture ever. Give us Rs 700 to 1,000 crore or more and we can truly show the world what we can make.”

Akshay, however, feels that the day will come soon. “We first have to present our own culture to Hollywood, our biggest threat. We cannot compete with them right now on action dramas, because they make far bigger and better films, though they will be dazzled by Brothers. But they love and respect our family fare and our songs and dances.”

The actor reveals how immigration officials in so many far-off countries are thrilled when they come to know that he is an actor from India. As he reveals: “They go, ‘Bollywood! Bollywood! Bollywood! Oh, we love your dances!’ That’s where we must get them. They do not get a colourful song or a strong family-oriented culture over there. And gradually, the time will come when we will be able to make bigger action movies than they do, or at least comparable ones.”

Akshay’s next two films are his co-productions, Prabhudeva’s Singh Is Bliing, in which he is back to comedy, and Airlift, a real-life saga akin to his recent lot of purposeful films like Special 26, Holiday and Baby. Is there anything new that he would specifically want to try out?

“Maybe a mythological film — we are so rich in stories,” he smiles placidly. “My grandfather was a devotee of Lord Shiva and would show me movies like Har Har Gange and Jai Santoshi Maa. I am a Shiv devotee too. I would love to play Lord Krishna too, which in a way I did in OMG — Oh My God!. I would love to play today’s interpretation of Lord Shiva — I would visualise him as a cool dude. But we have stopped making such films, because they may not work now, though I think it is about the way we can put across the story.”

While many contemporaries and juniors have disappeared, Akshay completes 25 years in films this year. What is the big secret of his sustenance? “I think luck is important — getting the right producer and making a hit film. When I see people who look better than me not having the kind of success that has come my way, I have to admit that I have succeeded with only 35 per cent hard work, and 65 per cent luck!”

(Published 08 August 2015, 15:48 IST)

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