He is, possibly, the busiest actor in Bollywood at the moment, in terms of the number of films he does every year. But, not many people know that Akshay Kumar also makes sure that he takes out ample time for his family too. He says he “loves the way he works”, and does not like taking himself “too seriously”. As the 48-year-old readies himself for the release of his comedy film, Housefull 3, he talks about his long career, his family, and more.
In January, you completed 25 years in Bollywood. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I go to bed asking myself, “How would I feel if I lost it all tomorrow?” That gut-wrenching feeling of failure is enough to wake me up. It makes me appreciate what I have got, and everything that still continues to come my way even on my worst days. I can’t complain. Being grateful is the key to happiness. If you aren’t thankful for your life, you don’t deserve what you have achieved.
Would you like your daughter, Nitara, to pick up self-defence techniques as well?
Absolutely. She will be starting her training when she turns four, which is not too far. It is important for girls to feel that they have the confidence, and the strength to defend themselves — anytime, anywhere and against anyone. A man can’t imagine the insecurities, and the fear some women have to face on a daily basis. I can only protect my daughter if she learns to protect herself. I wish I could hold her hand for the rest of her life, but I know that that’s just a father’s dream. Whether she likes it or not, she will have to learn these self-defence techniques. I already have a feeling that Nitara’s going to be a little Ninja. There is power in her big brown eyes, and I can’t wait to put that to some good use.
You have done comedy films in the past as well. But how comfortable are you with the kind of comedy your next movie is all about?
I love this humour. It has some over-the-top antics, but it’s harmless. It is beyond all reason, and it is so far-fetched that you’ll have to be a prude to not laugh. Now, there are many new family members (actors) in the Housefull squad. But still, everyone can be rest assured that Housefull 3 is all fun. It is meant to be taken with a pinch of salt, and maybe, a slice of lime (laughs).
You have been known to be very quick when it comes to working on films. So, are other actors slow or are you way faster than them?
I wouldn’t know that, as everyone is fast when I’m around. It is not for me to say what’s right or not. I like the way I work; if others want to crawl, it is their prerogative. I maybe fast at shooting, but others surpass me in many other things, like in playing games such as Pictionary and Chess (laughs).
Even today, comedy doesn’t get actors as much respect as other genres. Even you joked that with Housefull 3, all the respect you had earned for Airlift will be lost...
Yes, it’s sad, and most probably, I will lose that respect. But I don’t mind it. Comedy is one of the most powerful genres, and a gift [for actors and the viewers]. I live in the moment, and so do Indian audiences. It has never mattered [to me] what I have worked on in the past; I just know that now it is time to make people laugh. I’ve already been forgotten for Airlift, as people only want to know what’s next. Audiences must know that I’m prepared to do anything. I may not be the biggest actor out there, but I’m happy being the most versatile one. At least, that way, I can’t be accused of being boring.
You recently said that you don’t take yourself too seriously. What did you mean?
All my peers will agree with this too; I have never taken myself too seriously. If you can’t laugh at yourself, how do you expect others to laugh at you, or in my case, with you? In my house, the no.1 rule is that no one is allowed to take themselves seriously. So, one must laugh or he/she can go and sulk in the garden.
Like you, your son, Aarav, too, now has black belts in karate and kudo. Would you like him to join Bollywood as well?
I just want to see him fulfil his dreams; I don’t want him to feel that he has to fulfil mine. Aarav earning his black belt means more to me than when I bagged my own. The sheer pride and happiness he has given me and his mother is something he’ll never know till he has his own child. I have been there throughout his struggle; I know the pain he’s been through, and the kind of dedication it takes. But this moment, and his achievement, will never be taken away from him; he’s earned my respect for life.
You also completed 15 years of marriage with your wife, Twinkle.
Tina is my best friend. My wife is the best person any man could wish to wake up next to. She holds me up when I’m falling, and puts me down when I’m flying. She makes me laugh when I’m sad, and moans when I am sitting idle (laughs). Tina is everything for me. She is my reality check.
You are taking up a variety of films nowadays. What do you personally enjoy more?
The ones that give me a kick would be films like Baby (2015) or Holiday (2014) that have action, adventure and drama with an added twist of humour and some romance too. It’s like a desi Bond movie, but without the tux (laughs).
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