In spite of having stuntmen on hand, actors often insist on performing their own stunts. Hrithik Roshan just underwent brain surgery after hurting himself during a stunt for his next, Bang Bang. We speak to Akshay Kumar (he too injured his foot while shooting for the tentatively titled Pistol) about precautions and safety on the sets.
What are the safety measures taken while filming stunts?
When we hire a stunt team from abroad, we realise our safety measures aren’t up to international standards. I always check my harness before I do a stunt; I test-drive the cars I have to race or explode; I’m present at all pyrotechnical rehearsals; and I walk through everything step-by-step. No man should put their life in someone else's hands unless they have covered their own safety from all angles.
With advancing technology, is it possible to replace filming stunts with computer-generated imagery?
Our films are advancing, but not to the point where actors are replaced by computer doubles, like in Hollywood films. Most of the time, the time to choreograph fight sequences in advance isn’t available. We tend to walk onto set, get told what to do and choose whether or not to do it. At times, we ask the stunt double to perform, purely for safety reasons. In the last five years, though, I've seen a change, and India has finally given safety more priority.
You perform your own stunts. Is safety a concern?
Of course I fear for my safety, but the trick is to never let fear control you. Your adrenaline helps keep you alive and stops you from making potentially life-threatening mistakes. The day I take either my body or my work for granted will be the day you hear that I’ve smashed every inch of myself to pieces. In nearly 25 years of doing stunts, I made my first real mistake recently. I’ve never felt more ashamed.
What advice would you give to fellow action stars?
Always think twice before you decide to do anything for a film. It may seem like a career-changing idea, but think of your family and your future before doing anything risky. Train properly, because looking strong and being strong are two different things.