Acknowledged by his peers as a fine actor, he has not exactly mingled with the city’s glitterati. Aloof and even considered moody, the younger of Vinod Khanna’s two sons has hand- picked his movie projects. Striking up a count of 24 films in ten years, most of his performances have been top grade.
As for his private life, for years he was linked with the feisty actress Tara Sharma. Then came the split. Is the 31-year-old Akshaye Khanna chronically commitment-phobic? Interviewed by Khalid Mohamed
I must have met him, may be a dozen times during my interviewing beat, right from the pre-Himalayputra release days. It was apparent that he has what it takes —attitude, intelligence and a certain natural-born acting instinct.
With journos (especially critters like me), he’s been suspicious and unforthcoming. It’s been a smile, shake hands, hello-how’reyou-nice-nice that sort of a relationship.
Anyway, since I’ve been hearing that his “good friend” of many years, Tara Sharma, is on the cusp of marriage to deejay-cum-actor Rupak Saluja..and yes, the fact that I’ll be seeing Akshaye K after a longish hiatus in Salaam-e-Ishq, I trundle over to meet him. For an interviewer, there’s no stronger challenge than to make the untalkable talk.. hallelujah, he did:
Hi, long time, can I ask you anything?
(Lighting a cigarette) Hi, yeah it’s been long..anything?..it depends on what you mean by anything.
Let me rephrase myself — what’s up?
What’s up is that I’m really looking forward to the release of Salaam-e-Ishq.
|Akshaye Khanna's Salaam-e-Ishq releases this Friday.|
Doesn’t every actor say this before every film’s release?
I’ve never looked forward to the release of any film of mine as much as this one. It’s the most fun character I’ve played in my career. He’s a Delhi guy, saucy, mad, his take on life is skewered.
Skewered.. and he’s commitment phobic.
Sounds like someone I know.
Yeaaah? Maybe. What do you mean?
Like you don’t commit yourself to relationships, Akshaye.
I’ll let that pass. The role lends itself fabulously to an actor. Scenes were improvised, I added stuff which wasn’t on paper. Some of my suggestions were shot and have been kept in the film.
Isn’t filmmaking primarily about marketing today..and you haven’t marketed yourself at all. Right?
I can’t deny that. Yup, I’m not good at selling myself, my PR skills are atrocious. In any case, I’m not sure how much marketing works for an actor in the long run.
Would you agree that you’re mammothly moody?
Yes, earlier on I was.
So, on the eve of your film’s release you’ve come out of media hibernation?
Doesn’t everyone? But it’s not to get only good stuff written about me. I’m talking because..well, I don’t have problems in talking to anyone, anytime.
I heard you were going to script, direct and produce your own films.
I’m not a writer. As for direction, I don’t have the guts to do that. Still you can never say never. Production? Maybe sometime in the future..I would certainly not make science fiction movies. I’d go for the adventure movie genre like Indiana Jones. I love thrillers, too…Casino Royale was fabulous and I saw Bourne Identity over and over again.
meaning you want to be the Indian James Bond?
(Seriously) I couldn’t be Bond, I’m just saying that it would be fun to do thrillers.
Every actor is asked this — how come you’re not in an Yashraj or Karan Johar movie?
I’m doing a guest appearance in the Madhuri Dixit movie being made by Yashraj. By the way, why don’t you ask Karan why he has never cast me?
Roger, will do. How come you were in a corny Dharmesh Darshan movie.. err.. I’ve even forgotten its title.
That’s absolutely understandable.
Have you ever been disappointed when a film of yours doesn’t click? (Lights up another cigarette) Yes, Doli Saajake Rakhna and Aa Ab Laut Chalen.
Akshaye, stop. This is a non-smoking interview. Okay, you’ve eased up.. so unlike the way you were with Subhash Ghai once?
Excuse me, what are you talking about?
I was on the sets of Taal but you seemed to be elsewhere.
I can’t remember you on the sets ever. And please I’m genuinely fond of Subhashji as a friend and filmmaker.
Tell me what I don’t know already.
Oh..you’re all knowing but you couldn’t know that I’ve just finished reading Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra. It’s fantastic.
Right. Now tell me all about your private life.
What is there to tell?.. it’s zero.. my private life’s quite sad. I’m solo.
Your close friends tell me that you should have married Tara Sharma..she was the right girl for you..you’ve known each other for the longest time. Who are these friends who are saying this? Sure, Tara and I’ve known each other for years and years. But now she’s getting married to her boyfriend..soon, she’ll be a very married married woman.
You still have time to whisk her away like Prithviraj Chauhan.
(Glares, stubs out cigarette) Tara and I are old friends, Khalid. And I’m not going to do what you’re telling me to.
So you’re footloose and fancy free?
Yeah, but I’m off to South Africa to shoot for a long spell...it’ll be all work.
Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif are there too, aren’t they?
Yes. So what do I do with them? They already have boyfriends.
Whisk them away maybe.
Why don’t you do that?
Ulp. Do you intend to remain a bachelor all your life?
I don’t know. I hope not really..but I don’t have any set image for the woman I’ll marry..if I ever do marry that is..she doesn’t have to have black hair, beautiful eyes, that sort of stuff. As long as she’s a great cook, I’ll marry her.
Don’t you feel envious of Abhishek Bachchan who’s getting married?
No, no, not at all. Far too many married men have warned me about the downside of getting hitched… Do you mind if I have another cigarette please?
You do need a wife pronto.
Khalid, I guess you’re right on this one.