Prose of prosthetics

Akshay Kumar speaks about all things '2.0' and his rapport with Rajinikanth off-screen.

He was floored by the concept and the script. And he wonders why no one, before writer-director Shankar, had even thought of such an “international social message” — Akshay Kumar continues working in the realm of social movies with 2.0, after movies as socially relevant as Gabbar…Is Back, Jolly LLB 2, Toilet—Ek Prem Katha and Pad Man. “The film was exciting for many reasons,” he says. “Besides the message, there was the pleasure of working with Rajinikanth, and the honour of getting punched by him!”

Akshay had a great time shooting with Rajinikanth, he says, and Rajinikanth, in his humble way, kept telling him that 2.0 was Akshay’s film! “That was just his greatness!” smiles Akshay. “I am just the Amrish Puri of the film! On sets, we would enjoy conversing in Marathi — he is a Maharashtrian and I know good Marathi! And he is a great man — there is no veneer, and everything he says or does is epic. A simple sentence like ‘How are you?’ in Hindi is said in such a way that it becomes supremely entertaining!”

The layers of his role also fascinated the actor, though he had done a few negative roles back home, like in Ajnabee. “What was also very exciting was that I was needed only for 38 days, while Rajini-sir must have shot for double that period. That was the best part of being a villain!” he quips.

Active, passive

Akshay admits the role was not easy. He had to just sit in one place for hours for the prosthetics and make-up team to do their job, both in the morning and after the shoot ended at night. As he puts it, “When I went to bed, there was the thought that the same thing would be repeated the next day! But when I saw the result, it was all worth it!” Raving about his director’s expertise, he calls Shankar “James Cameron on steroids!” He points out that if 2.0 was made in Hollywood, the budgets would have been 17 times bigger. “But I dare them to make this level of movie in Rs 450 crore!”

Having also done Vishnu Vijay, a Kannada film, Akshay is open to good offers from down South and adores their professionalism as well as the fact they are ahead in technology. “A 7.30 am shoot there starts at 7.30 am, unlike in Mumbai!” he smiles. “They value your time and do not take anyone for granted, which is why they do 35 to 40 shots a day, unlike us, who manage only 12 to 13. In my opinion, every newcomer should do five films down South before coming to Mumbai — there is so much to learn!”

Praise be...

Akshay is now doing his own productions Mission Mangal, Kesari and a film co-produced by Rohit Shetty and Karan Johar, who is also producing his Good News. Then there is also Housefull 4. He is all praises for the five girls led by Vidya Balan and Taapsee Pannu who star in the real-story-based Mission Mangal. “These five women are so involved in their own roles that they are not bothered what the other four’s roles are!” he says. ”Can five heroes ever work this way?”

But, would he agree to do a five-hero film? “Why not?” he replies. “I would even do a seven-hero film! There were seven of us, headed by Sunny Deol, in my 2002 film Jaani Dushman — Ek Anokhi Kahani!”

A non-film project close to Akshay’s heart is the App he has begun along with the Government of India, named Bharat Ke Veer. Explaining his newest passion (he has been doing this for around 18 months), Akshay tells you that this is the way we civilians can help do our bit, apart from the government, in looking after the families of our martyrs from all our armed forces and auxiliary divisions like the Border Security Force and more. It is a very consumer-friendly App, he says, giving a small demonstration. The App opens up photographs of all the martyrs and anyone can donate any figure. “There are no middlemen,” he says. “What you give goes directly into the person’s kin’s bank account. We have capped the amount at Rs 15 lakh per soldier, and once that figure is reached, the soldier’s picture is removed and another one takes its place.” Now, this, indeed, is Akshay Kumar’s biggest social project.

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Prose of prosthetics

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