He has been away, vacationing in the US. But Akshay Kumar continues to make news in Tinseltown, thanks to the much-discussed shift in the release date of his upcoming release, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobara (OUATIMD), to avoid a clash with Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express, on Eid.
For the first time, Akshay talks about the altered release date and his equation with SRK, among other things.
You have been quiet so far on the shifting of your film’s release date.
As an actor, I don’t decide release dates. I’m not the producer of the film. So I think all such queries should be directed to Balaji (Motion Pictures). Personally, I feel that they have done a fabulous job in marketing and releasing all their films till date, so I’m sure they know best.
You and Shah Rukh have been pitted against each other.
I have the highest regard and respect for Shah Rukh. And honestly, I don’t worry about people pitting us against each other. Over the years, I have been pitted against other Khans — Aamir, Salman and SRK. More than anything else, I take it as a big compliment.
So, are you looking at Chennai Express as competition?
I don’t believe in competing with anyone else or other films. I only compete with myself. To put things in perspective, I run my own race. I have no desire to play the game better than anyone else. I only play it my way.
You’re playing a gangster for the first time in your career. How different was the experience?
It is probably the most self-absorbing role in my career. It’s every actor’s dream to be a gangster, but to play a gangster from the ’80s has been a powerful adventure. I enjoyed every single day of my schedule. I never thought the day would come when the intensity of my role would thrill me so much. But I haven’t lost my funny bone yet.
Were you wary of taking over another actor’s (Emraan Hashmi) character from the first film?
As an actor, you think of everything before you agree to do a film. But as a fan of what Milan sir (Luthria, director) created and the story Emraan started, I didn’t have to think much. It’s a gripping story. It has everything I would want to play.
Did you take inspiration from any on-screen gangster?
A few people suggested gangster films that I should watch. But I personally feel that this film is strictly between a director and his actor. No one in Hollywood who can do this film. Also, one can’t repeat a fellow actor’s portrayal of a gangster, since that would be cheating the audience. This character is our version of a gangster.
Has it been a tough film to make? Also, you worked with Ekta Kapoor (producer) for the first time on this film.
It has been tough, but some of the scenes were so dramatic or intense that sometimes we had to step out of the sets to breathe some fresh air. As for Ekta, she is positively addictive to work with. She is a hardworking person and a born fighter.
What was it like to work with Milan? Also, how has Sonakshi, changed as an actor?
Just watching the way Milan works is amazing. He knows what he wants. He will go to any length to make something that will be remembered. As for Sonakshi, she has grown (as an actor). Now, she’s a powerful actress with an equally commanding presence.