It's all in the head: Akshay Kumar on his salt-and-pepper avatar

  • Prashant Singh, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 20, 2015 18:15 IST

Age is just a number: Akshay Kumar clearly believes in the adage. At a time when most actors make efforts to look young, Akshay has been seen sporting a grey beard at several occasions -- on and off screen. But he is totally nonchalant about people's perceptions, and says, "It's all in the head." Ahead of his next big release, Gabbar is Back on May 1, Akshay Kumar opens up about his salt-and-pepper look, his 'writer' wife, working with new directors, and more.

Every year, you manage at least three releases. How do you handle the pressure?
I don't plan it that way; it just happens. From the beginning of my career, I have been able to manage this. Also, I don't know anything else in life, but my work.

While releasing films around festivals has become a priority for most actors nowadays, your films never vie for the same. Is it a conscious decision?
Every year, other actors get hold of the popular release dates. So nothing is left for me (smiles). But I am not complaining. We do whatever seems best for our movies.

Also, of late, you have made several appearances, on and off screen, sporting a grey beard. Stars usually don't do that.
I have never understood what the big deal is - whether your beard is grey or black. In fact, an A-list actor recently told me, "Akki, please don't keep your beard grey because when you do that, people can automatically guess my age, too, since we are almost of the same age." Age is defined by your mindset and not by the colour of your hair.

I have just finished shooting for an action-based film with Sidharth (Malhotra). In fact, when we were shooting the action sequences, not even for a moment did I feel that I am older than him. It's all in your head and how you maintain your fitness level.

Your wife, Twinkle Khanna has been dabbling in writing, and her pieces usually have a hint of humour. Did you know she had a sense of humour?
I knew Tina could write, but I am pleasantly surprised to see that she has a great sense of humour. I am proud that when she decided to do interior designing, she became the best. And now, she is doing so well as a writer. I'm happy for her. It proves that once she focuses on something, she achieves it.

Why do you choose to work with new directors so often?
I have worked with 16 or 17 new directors so far. The biggest plus point of working with them is that they always bring something fresh to the table. I love working with new people because unlike experienced ones, an opportunity to direct a film is make-or-break situation for them, so their level of dedication is unmatched. Someone gave me a chance when I started out; so if I come across a deserving person, why shouldn't I do the same?

Are you signing different films of late on purpose?
I am tilting towards 'real' cinema. I am enjoying taking up such films that have a sense of realism in them. So, be it my next film (produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali) or Airlift, they all have a strong connect with reality. For instance, the interval scene in my next film will give people the goosebumps, but it happened for real. The best thing about such films and roles is that no one can question you or point fingers at you since everything is taken from the real world.

You have spent over 25 years in the industry. Does the release of a new film still give you the jitters?
They do, but only till Sunday because by Monday, the verdict about whether the film is doing well or not is out. So by Monday, you are either rejoicing or you let it pass, go to the next film and try even harder.

In your new film, you have worked with Kareena Kapoor Khan again after a long time.
Yes. She isn't playing a big role, but she has an important part. She plays my wife. She was kind enough to take it up.

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