Nagesh Kukunoor likes to portray real life characters in his films and in his latest film, 8X10 Tasveer, the director himself is the inspiration behind Akshay Kumar's role of an environment protection officer.
"I like to cast characters who are close to me. And this one gets as close to me as possible. I was once an environmental consultant. Akshay plays the part of an environment protection officer," Kukunoor told IANS in an interview.
Releasing Friday, the film also stars Ayesha Takia, Sharmila Tagore, Vinod Khanna and Javed Jaffrey. <b1>
It's believed that Akshay and Kukunoor had quite a few run-ins during the making of their film.
"Akshay Kumar is no longer just an actor. He likes to make his presence felt in every department of his projects. He'd often give suggestions. Kukunoor thought he had hired an actor. Akshay had other ideas," said a source close to the project.
Kukunoor doesn't deny that there was stress during the shooting.
"The most frustrating thing about shooting the film was when the first infamous Canadian schedule went awry. The rest of the shooting was badly affected. In fact, all of us were badly affected. Akshay had clearly set aside 40 days for the Canadian schedule whereas we actually shot for just around 17 days. This wasn't a situation conducive to a happy work atmosphere," said Kukunoor.
The director says he put himself into a zen-like state.
"Akshay was booked throughout the year and he kept making the time as and when he could. I am not used to working this way. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do about it. We just played the catch-up game throughout."
But Kukunoor is happy with Akshay's performance. "I can say many things but I'd rather let you watch the film." <b2>
About audience getting enough of Akshay's comedy, Kukunoor said: "His comic space is not my cup of tea. I was very clear I wanted a big star for 8X10. I was also clear I wanted the non-comic Akshay Kumar. He was the first actor we approached and he agreed.
"And to his credit Akshay was a thorough professional on location. John Abraham during 'Aashayein' was exactly the same. No khit-pit. Both would work and go home. To get a performance out of them was my responsibility."
The director, however, had to face problems during the Canadian schedule when the stunt director turned out to be a bit of fraud. Kukunoor decided to direct some of the stunts himself.
Asked what happened in Canada, Kukunoor said: "We were conned. We had selected a stunt director who turned out to be a stunt man. The local Canadian agents, a couple called Raj and Bina, messed up on everything. It was a complete disaster.
"I did a few stunt scenes. And I've never had more fun. Just like when I directed a dance number for the first time during 'Bollywood Calling'."
"The next big schedule in South Africa had a full-blown action director Shyam Kaushal. He's done the action in 'Slumdog Millionaire'. And I couldn't have chosen better. My action sequences were finally in place," he added.