Less than a week away from the release of his fourth film this year, he’s in a pretty welcoming mood. Zoom-pan-trolley, then, to Mehboob studio for a Sunday-sauce-maar-ke session between Akshay Kumar .. and Rachana Dubey.
What’s been keeping you on your toes?
(Smiles) Parkour, a French sport that keeps people on their toes. Before you jump to any conclusions, it’s for personal pleasure.
Let’s talk work.. every actor says, “Ask me about my work.” Okay.
Now you’re getting there. There’s loads happening. Welcome is up for release. I’m shooting for Singh is King. Then there are Tashan, Eight by Ten, Made in China, Kambakht Ishq.. goodwork from good production houses.<b1>
Goody. Okay now please explain why you’ve been posing for photographs which are in bad taste.. like flaunting your derriere..and another strange one with a dog.
Hello! Do you know athletics?
No wonder! Those pictures don’t fall into the vulgar category at all. If you understand athletics, you would have appreciated them. I shot for them because I didn’t find them vulgar.
Fine. Now news is that you’ve backed out of the Bachchan concerts scheduled for August, 2008.
Yes I have.Initially, I had agreed because the concerts had been planned for April. Then, for reasons best known to them, the shows were postponed to August. I’ve already committed those dates to other projects.
And now, there’s major trade gup about the astronomical fee you charge for every movie.
Too much has been written about my work fee. Honestly, I find this amusing at times. None of these so-called trade figures have been confirmed with me ever. They’ve just been floating around. Price tags are for products on sale. I’m not for sale. (Laughs) I’m a limited edition.
You don’t seem to be interested in promoting your films.. unlike Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir Khan.
(Pause) My films get promoted automatically, people know about them, they draw an audience. I do whatever a responsible actor must do. <b2>
All right. It’s said that you orchestrated the Bhool
Bhulaiyya promotions..to focus mainly on you.
Really? Wow. That means I must be the most powerful man in the industry today. Thanks for making me realise that. So, now I don’t only edit films and edit other actors’ footage, but I also control the promotion.. and that too while I’m away shooting in Canada. Wow, thanks!
But the buzz is that you were in the country when Bhool Bhulaiyya released.
Madam, do you want to see my passport? It has all the details of my travel dates in and out of the country. I can have a copy sent to you. Then maybe, you will stop believing your ‘buzz’.
I believe you. What explains the other buzz—that the Hare
Rama song was shot only for you?
Aha, if that song was only for me, then I’d love to have many many more such songs for myself.. because it did wonders for the film.
Priyadarshan seems to score more hits with you than he does with other actors.
I don’t think so. Where do you get this from? I wasn’t there in Virasat, Hungama and Hulchul. Those films did good business. I haven’t given Priyadarshan anything. On the contrary, I’ve learnt to tackle comedy from him.
Of late, you’ve also been doing quite a few multi-starrers.
Wrong! Did Namastey London have five heroes? It was a solo-hero project. Singh is King is also a solo-hero film. I do films with everyone. Show me one hero who doesn’t do multi-character films. What’s wrong with that?
Okay, tell me something about Welcome. Isn’t it inspired by Mickey Blue Eyes?
It’s a fun film that you can take your family to on Christmas. (saracastically) As for the inspiration, well, we’re heavily inspired. Every frame is a copy of some or the other film from Hollywood. We just put things together.
It’s believed that most of your co-heroes like Fardeen Khan and Riteish Deshmukh run in the opposite direction from you after one film.
Riteish? Wait? (He dials a number, “
Riteish.. hello, hello..”) I think he can’t hear me. Riteish is shooting right here. Do you want me to call him to prove that he’s not running in the opposite direction from me? If he were, then he wouldn’t have done a cameo for us in
. Riteish and I are doing another film together. So, please check your facts.
What about other actors?
Lady, which others are you talking about? I’ve worked in a couple of films with Katrina (Kaif), Paresh Rawal, Suniel Shetty, Mr Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor and Anil Kapoor. I’ve worked several times with most of my co-actors. If the ‘others’ are running away, then either they think I’m too good an actor to share screen space with..or I simply exercise excessive power.
Didn’t Suniel Shetty walk out of Singh is King?
So? That wasn’t because of me. He was shooting for Mission Istanbul in Turkey. There were date hassles. So he took his pick.
What’s the status on Nagesh Kukunoor’s Eight by Ten? Are you still doing the film?
We’ve shot 50 per cent of the film. The remaining 50 per cent will be shot next year. <b3>
Didn’t Nagesh and you get into a tu tu main main while shooting in Canada?
(Smiles) See, there was no tu tu main main. Actually, we had a fist fight. That’s why we packed off to India after finishing only half the film. We will sort our issues out when he’s ready to punch me back. Then we’ll decide what happens to the film.
Apparently, Shailendra Singh of Percept asked you for your dates for Eight by Tenand you said that your fee should be doubled.
Call Mr Singh and ask him to comment on this before I do.
What’s been keeping your from signing multi-crore deals? Why did you call off your negotiations with Adlabs?
I’m not being offered multi-crore deals in the first place. Adlabs wasn’t a multi-crore deal at all. (Mock seriously) It was only worth some thousands of rupees. That’s all.
And how come you’re recommending Katrina Kaif non-stop to filmmakers?
(Poker-faced) True..true! That’s how she’s landed Eight by Ten, Chandni Chowk to China, Priyadarshan’s next and Kambakht Ishq.
Is she in them?
No! I’m not out to spoil her really. I’m making life easy for a colleague. I struggled once. Why should someone else go through that?
You have gone on record, promising a film career to your secretary Vikas Bali’s son Vedant. Right?
Yes.. but that’s between us. We’ll talk about it when the time is right.
Such a lot of buzz.. so many rumours.. how do you tackle them?
I don’t have to tackle them. Journalists like you make my life easy. Thanks a ton.