Akshay Kumar: My age doesn’t concern me, it affects others
Be it his noble deeds of contributing to grief-stricken areas, or doing a film in a genre that not every actor would take the risk of doing— Akshay Kumar loves to take the lead in everything he does. Even when it comes to actors resuming work during Covid-19 crisis, he was the first one to step out for an ad shoot and now, busy on a start to finish schedule for Bell Bottom in Scotland, he’s one of the first actors to be shooting a full fledged film during the pandemic. In an exclusive chat, the actor talks about how the new normal is looking like, his birthday plans and why he, too, feels theatres should finally open.
It’s been almost a month of shooting in Scotland, how’s the new normal looking like on a film set, and how are you getting used to all of that?
Apart from being humbly aware that I’m a very lucky man to be one of the first actors in the world to shoot a feature film in these unprecedented times, I’m also aware that many are struggling in all walks of life the world over, and I wish everyone the best to get through this difficult year, it’s not easy but never give up.
Is there any one particular thing that you’re really missing on set during Covid-19 times or any positive you’d like to point?
As most of you know, I enjoy being a versatile man, I like to adapt to my surroundings however possible, as much of a change as this is, it’s already an ingrained part of my life, quarantining, sanitizing regularly, wearing masks, keeping distance from those outside of my bubble etc. It’s what life is about now, I don’t want to live in fear. Most of us are all aware the deadliest thing in the world is a virus, measures need to be taken seriously, no one is exempt from this, but for me, it’s time to move forward taking as much precautions as possible. What I miss the most is hugging and shaking hands of those I respect, love and admire outside of my bubble, that’s the only thing that makes me sit back and remember how warm and welcoming life was before this pandemic. But health and safety comes before anything especially now, this version of life isn’t forever, it’s just for now, we all need to focus on self, social & societal improvements, then and only then can we better our future.
Since your wife and kids are also there with you, is that a kind of relief that you get to unwind once you’re back with them after shoot? Or is there a sense of worry too given the virus scare?
I’m blessed, lucky and relieved that my whole family is with me. First thing we did after quarantine was take a walk in the park together and played with this one tennis ball my daughter luckily carried with her — our lives were made. Of course there’s a sense of worry and concern even though it’s much safer in Scotland right now — Covid is around every corner — but all we can do is be sensible, take all precautions necessary and try to move on with our lives safely. My family knows, myself and everyone around me is taking extra special care, there’s nothing more we can do now than be brave and safe, as we are all in this together.
You’ll turn 53 on Wednesday, and yet again, you prove that age is indeed just a number for you, as you continue to give young actors a run for their money with your unmatched fitness. Does turning older by a year ever makes you fear that things would soon change for you in terms of work, offers or anything else?
My age doesn’t affect me, it’s others that it concerns (laughs). Every actor has a shelf life, either via popularity, opportunities, hard work, and sometimes, age, if you’re lucky enough to reach that far. Either way, there’s a time in every man/woman’s life where they have to hang their working hat up. Do I need to worry about that now? I hope not, but, yes, I’m aware that I’ve had an incredible 30 years in this industry already, but another 30 would be a dream, if possible. So, it’s back on the bicycle for me, gotta keep my fresh face glow on for it’s these pretty newbies that are the ones giving us old dogs a run for our money (laughs).
And what are your birthday plans this year? Now that you’re with family, anything special in store for the special day?
Now that’s something you’ll have to ask my wife and kids, for they’re the ones planning my birthday, but for sure I’m shooting that day. My Bell Bottom team is super cool, so it’ll be lots of games, home made pizzas by my master chef of a son, and I’m hoping he makes me his famous cheesecake or Cinnamon buns, they’re so good they made even Mr Mahesh Bhupati drool with pleasure. Either way, I’m surrounded by my family and that’s all that matters. I’m grateful to still be here, I’m grateful for having the best fans in the world who I know will send me videos of them reading to the blind, feeding the poor and donate their kid’s toys to orphanages. My fans are literally the best blessing about my birthday; they celebrate me by being incredible to others and for this I’m eternally grateful for all their love, support and genuine kindness. I’m unbelievably lucky to have all that I have.
We saw your promo of Into the Wild with Bear Grylls and your fans can’t wait to see the full episode. Knowing the adventure streak in you, how was the experience of being on the show? Was there any particular reason you agreed to be on the show?
In all honesty, I think Bear and I were destined to meet. We’re like brothers from other mothers, or ‘two peas in a pod’ like Bear would say (laughs). Whether it was Man vs Wild or any of Grylls adventure programs, any adrenaline wild junkie would be obsessed with anything and everything he does, he is just like his name a Wild Bear that survives anything and everything. We believe in the same training, we have so much passion for nature, stunts and pushing ourselves to our limits, age playing a factor only when we allow it to. Bear is as humble as they come.
Also, your contribution to Assam and Bihar floods’ victims has once again made people laud the fact that you always take the lead when it comes to helping people. Do you look at it as a pressure on you as a public figure or a responsibility as a citizen?
Actually, neither. It’s more to do with my responsibility as a human being. While growing up, I remember my parents telling me this and hence, for as long as I can remember, I’ve followed this one simple rule. In 24 hours, do one good thing. It could be anything, big or small, monetary or a mere act of kindness, something which helps someone and trust me, you’ll sleep like a baby. So in a way, you can call me a little selfish, as I do it to sleep better (smiles).
In addition to this, you also shared a video urging people to help the lesser privileged who’re struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. Was there a moment when their plight hit you hard and you felt like sharing this thoughtful message with everyone?
Somewhere I felt our local vendors had no one speaking for them. Like for instance, the film industry workers have their unions and other bodies supporting them but these people have no one, so it was just a simple appeal to the public. We all have a bhaji wale bhaiya, a fruit wale uncle, bread wale bhaiya etc, who’re a part of our lives and being privileged if we can help them, by just buying what they are selling, we can all come out of this pandemic together.
Talking of the pandemic affecting various sectors, the film industry has also taken a big blow. And as theatres continue to remain shut even during Unlock 4, the multiplex owners and producers have expressed strong displeasure. As an actor and a producer, what’s your view on this?
I think like how various sectors including airlines, malls, gyms etc. have started functioning taking all the necessary precautions, it’s about time theatres also get a go-ahead from the authorities, but only and after only taking satisfactory safety measures for the audiences. Not only will this help bring some stability to the film industry but help so many people’s livelihood who’re associated with multiplexes, plus it’ll also bring the audiences some cheer in these drab times.