Contrary to rumours, Bollywood star Akshaye Khanna isn't unhappy with his role in Abbas-Mustan's just-released slick thriller Race.
"Where do these things start from?" Akshaye laughed heartily. "I've been in Bangkok for almost a month shooting for my friend Anil Kapoor's Shortcut. We're going to be in Bangkok until April 20. This is the last schedule. We'll finish the film and return. So where was the time to come home for Race?"
Akshaye, who shares screen space with Saif Ali Khan in the film, says they gel well together.
"I really enjoy working with Saif. He is 24-hour entertainment. He is a joke-a-minute pal. And after Dil Chahta Hai, he's really blossoming as an actor."
But isn't Saif moody like Akshaye?
"I've never seen Saif's moody side. Am I moody? Honestly, it was a reputation well earned at the beginning of my career, but now no longer applicable. Everyone is entitled to highs and lows. I'm not temperamental. I get annoyed easily, but I don't get angry easily."
And right now sitting in Bangkok, the 33-year-old is far from angry.
"Race has had a smash-hit opening. It's got a bigger opening than Anil Kapoor's other release, Welcome. Mine is a very effective role. My character is the mover-shaker of the script."
Son of veteran actor and politician Vinod Khanna, Akshaye is very choosy about his roles and enjoys playing negative characters.
"Abbas-Mustan had earlier cast me as negative character in Humraaz. I enjoy being wicked. Such roles are fun to play and fun to watch.
"When I had heard the script of Humraaz, I told Abbas-Mustan, 'Boss I'm the hero, though conventionally I'm the villain but my character is the most entertaining.' Sure enough people came out of Humraaz wishing me not to die."
Akshaye goes into a wicked rewind.
"If you look at the history of great screen villains, for example Anthony Hopkins in The Silence Of The Lambs audiences don't want them to die in the film. So many people have told me they didn't want me to die in Race. That's a very positive sign about my negative roles."
Akshaye can't stop glowing over the way Race has been received.
"Abbas-Mustan really know how to use me well. So, for that matter, does Anil Kapoor. I enjoy shooting Shortcut and Gandhi My Father for Anil as much as the films of Abbas-Mustan. I wouldn't give up either.
"There's a greater likelihood of people watching Race than Gandhi My Father. But no one can tell what would work, what wouldn't. I'm really proud of that film. No other film has given me what Gandhi My Father has. And it will continue to make me proud."