Cinema plays an role in showing nationalism: Kumar

Cinema plays an important role in showing nationalism: Akshay Kumar

He is awaiting the release of 'Bellbottom'

Actor Akshay Kumar. Credit: AFP Photo

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar believes the unsung heroes of the country deserve praise for their service, which he says is the highlight of his upcoming release Bellbottom.

In the 1980s-set spy thriller based on true events, the 53-year-old actor plays an intelligence agent with codename 'Bellbottom' who spearheads the mission to rescue 210 hostages from a hijacked Indian plane

Asked if unsung heroes are the new face of nationalism via movies, Kumar said, "Cinema does play an important role in showing nationalism."

"It is essential that we tell everyone about these people who do so much for the country, the risk they take. I am glad I got the opportunity to be part of Bellbottom which is about an unsung hero," the National Award-winner told PTI in an interview.

"Bell Bottom" joins the long list of Kumar's films which blends high octane stunts, synonymous with the actor's action star status, and patriotic fervour following titles like Holiday, Baby, Airlift, Kesari, and Mission Mangal.

“With this film, I would like the audience to see and understand the life of an agent, who are unsung heroes and how they work selflessly for the country without expecting anything in return. And how he goes unnoticed. It is a great life and people should know about them.”

Asked about his views on nationalism, the actor said, “What I believe about nationalism I show it onscreen through films and that is what I want to say about nationalism.”

As the contribution of many heroes goes unnoticed, it is imperative they are celebrated through films, he added.

“…They are the unsung heroes and even if there is more glorification being shown, then I don’t see any problem in that. I feel it shouldn't be less, if it is more than it is ok. They deserve praise.”

It is not that he enjoys playing unsung heroes more in cinema, said the actor, who averages three to four movies a year.

“I enjoy every space. I have played this man who stands in support of women in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Padman, an out-and-out comedy role in Houseful and then played a transgender (person) in Laxmii. So, I have not restricted myself to playing particular kinds of roles.”

For "Bell Bottom'', the actor said, he has tried to make the character a bit glossy to make it entertaining for the audience.

“The film is about this mission and how these men saved the lives of several people. These undercover agents are very normal people. They are not like James Bond, they do things in a very raw and real manner.

“Like, my character is not someone jumping from one building to another. Since, this is a real story, things are done in a logical way. But we have tried to make it a little big and commercial (by adding some fantasy). However, 80 per cent of the story is real,” Kumar added.

Bellbottom happens to be the first film to be shot amid the pandemic last year and Kumar is grateful to the producers for shooting the film during Covid-19 in the UK.

"We didn’t face any difficulty. The credit goes to the producers to take the crew of more than 200 people to shoot over there but with all the necessary protocols. They took the risk to do something unbelievable,” he said.

It is also the first Hindi movie to release on August 19 in 3D and 2D after the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though cinema halls in many parts of the country have reopened with 50 per cent capacity, Maharashtra, which contributes a major chunk to the overall business of Bollywood, continues to remain shut.

But for Kumar, the bigger joy is the arrival of Bellbottom on the big screen.

"It's been two years and we haven’t seen anything in theatres. It's about time that people come to watch movies but with necessary protocols as suggested by the government. We just hope it never closes down again,” he said, adding, he hopes cinema operations resume in Maharashtra too.

His other film "Sooryavanshi", a cop drama, is still awaiting theatrical release since March 2020 but Kumar said there is nothing much that he can do in the current scenario.

"We don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t have any answer. I am not the only one facing this difficulty, everyone in the industry is. There are so many people who are facing such big difficulties and my difficulties are nothing in front of them."

The actor also has films like period drama Prithviraj, musical romance Atrangi Re, action comedy Bachchan Pandey, comedy drama Raksha Bandhan, and action-adventure drama "Ram Setu" in the pipeline.

Prithviraj is ready and if all goes well then it should release during Diwali," Kumar shared, without divulging details about his other movies.

Directed by Ranjit M Tewari and written by Aseem Arrora and Parveez Shaikh, Bellbottom also stars Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, and Adil Hussain in key roles. The film is produced by Pooja Entertainment and Emmay Entertainment.