All's well on the work front

With 'Sab Kushal Mangal', Akshaye tells us that the movie actually marks his return to comedy 11 years after 'Mere Baap Pehle Aap', writes Nishika V

This powerhouse actor who made his debut with his home production Himalayputra all of 22 years ago is still hungry for work. Akshaye Khanna clears the air about the popular misconception that he wants to work less.

“I would like to do four films a year and be very busy, but sometimes it just does not happen,” he smiles. “I cannot do a film just for the sake of doing another one.” He admits that this attribute might be “one of the reasons” for the paucity of his work, but reminds us that movies are a collective art form and not something that can be done by yourself like painting. “Why should I not do more work? It is acting alone that gives me satisfaction and joy.” After all, his roster of great work includes Border, Dil Chahta Hai, Taal, Humraaz, Deewangee, Hungama, Shaadi Se Pehle, 36 China Town, Race, Mere Baap Pahele Aap, Aakrosh and Race 2.

However, in the last four years, Akshaye has been seen only in Dishoom (as the antagonist), Ittefaq, Mom and his last two releases, The Accidental Prime Minister and Section 375. Hopefully, a new innings awaits him in the new decade as he begins 2020 with Sab Kushal Mangal, the first release of the year. Asked what is fascinating for him in doing grey or black roles, as he does in his latest film wherein he plays a don, he says, “It’s not really a grey role. I am playing a don, but he is a lovable one. Mine is the sweetest character in the film. The film will leave you with a smile, and it’s a very sweet story.” Akshaye tells us that the movie actually marks his return to comedy 11 years after Mere Baap Pehle Aap. This is a zone where, largely thanks to his repeated association with Priyadarshan, he has excelled. “I enjoy doing comedy and people have liked me in this zone. I am happy and excited about Sab Kushal Mangal.” Incidentally, after a long while, he has a leading lady here, that too Riva Kishan, a girl 22 years his junior. He grins when we mention this. Returning to our original query, he says that come positive or negative roles, what he looks for in any character is simply how entertaining it is. “Did you know that seven to eight top heroes had turned down Humraaz?” he asks. “But when I read the script, I thought that it was the most entertaining character in the film. Such roles have something for me to do, they leave an impact and are remembered. Look at the recent James Bond villains: they are all top mainstream actors.” Why does he think that Mere Baap Pehle Aap, a thoroughly entertaining film, did not work then but is very popular now on satellite television? “I do not know why these things happen with some films. Even Dil Chahta Hai, now considered a cult film, did not do well except in one or two places. Films like these, or a Shaadi Se Pehle, are satellite-friendly films, I guess. You can watch them at home, even lying down in bed, just to relax.”

Last year, after a good gap, Akshaye delivered two powerful performances, in The Accidental Prime Minister and Section 375. Both films did not do well, but the actor is proud of them for valid reasons. “I was told by so many friends that had Section 375 got a different ending, it would have been more commercial, more satisfying,” he mentions. “But we were offering a different perspective, and we had to be honest to the material. I guess if we had to do it again, we would do it the same way. He goes on, “And why am I so proud of The Accidental Prime Minister, which connected with only a limited number of people, is that it was very important to be honest. India was making its first authentic political film with real names, real-life incidents, real politicians mentioned by name, and based on an insider’s book. We did not whitewash anything, showed everything relevant that happened, and were totally honest!” 

 

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