If I don’t charge my wife, how will I put rocks on her fingers: Akshay Kumar
The Jolly LLB 2 star Akshay Kumar, who has completed over 25 years in B-Town, says he enjoys his work a lot more now.bollywood Updated: Mar 23, 2017 23:51 IST
It has been over 25 years since he made his Bollywood debut with Saugandh (1991). Interestingly though, Akshay Kumar admits that now he “can have a flop and not worry about where my next meal is coming from”. HT catches up with the superstar about his life, career, and working with wife, Twinkle Khanna.
You just had your fourth consecutive Rs 100 crore grosser, Jolly LL.B 2. At this stage of career, does success taste just as sweet?
Success is a very bittersweet symphony. It comes with five minutes of relief followed by months of anxiety of maintaining one’s success in the hope that one can improve personally as well as professionally; and rise rather than fall by the next big Friday [release] (laughs). But I will admit that now, the outcome of my movies have a different effect on me.
Maybe, about a decade ago, my family as well as my welfare was dependent on every movie. Now, I don’t have that kind of pressure. My family will survive even if I stopped making movies tomorrow. Now, it’s about making films from a different perspective, and to grow in the industry rather than proving my worth every time my face is seen.
So, success and failure have different meaning for you now?
Today, I can have a flop and not worry about where my next meal is coming from, which is why I can enjoy my work a lot more. But I must clarify that I am absolutely not hinting that I’m okay with failure (laughs). We all strive to be successful but now, I’m in a much happier, less earnest space at this stage of my career.
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You have just started working with your wife in her maiden production venture. Excited, or pressured? Also, are you going to charge Twinkle with your usual fee or any fee at all?
If I don’t charge my wife, how will I put rocks on her fingers, and give her holidays to write about (laughs). I’m actually in my element right now. We just started shooting, with my wife at my side, my kids on her lap and with temples all around. It is a script so worthy that I truly believe every man and woman should watch this film. It will bring awareness and truly make so many women’s lives easier, better and, most importantly, healthier. Again my wife has proved her magic in bringing to light what India needs to hear. All we can do now is pray that they want to listen to that. We are proud to make PadMan.
You are also going to work with your friend Salman Khan – the producer…
Each and every partnership with Salman, over the years, has been epic in every way. This film will be no different. We have the utmost respect for each other’s time and talent. Plus, the subject of this film has all of us excited, something I’m truly waiting to start.
You recently said that one must be a producer’s actor. Do you see that not happening, especially with new actors coming in almost every day?
Like all things in life, give them [the actors] time and they will learn. It’s surprising how many people enter this industry with a chip on their shoulders, but I am never afraid, because life will teach them very quickly. If they want work, they better be a producer’s actor. Regardless of how great anyone’s last film may have been, the second anyone becomes a pain in the a**, the less you’ll see of them. When they start to struggle, no one will want to work with them.
But you have been a part of the industry for so long. What’s the mantra?
I’m living proof of that fact [being a producer’s actor works]. Even after 14 back-to-back flops, directors and producers still wanted to work with me. I was disciplined, punctual, saved them time, effort and money. I was a safe bet, and the word ‘diva’ didn’t exist in my vocabulary. I must admit, though, that all the newcomers I have had the pleasure to work with have been at their best behaviour, and are giving us a good run for our money (smiles).
You had also mentioned that you have earned enough money…
Absolutely! I have a completely different driving force now. I’m enjoying my script choices, which I make freely. I remember wanting to do patriotic films and real-life dramas for so many years, but the audience wasn’t accepting or ready to see me in any avatar other than as an action or comedy [hero]. So, it was difficult to put my commercial career on the line when box office numbers were the only thing that kept an actor afloat.
Of course, you have now changed the course of your career...
Now, I’m stable, established and comfortable pushing boundaries, even if they are risky. I’m in a position to make more worthy (sic) cinema, and I feel the audience is enjoying what I have to offer. India is growing and getting braver by the day. Therefore, it should also reflect in its film industry.
Last month, you finished three films (Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Naam Shabana and 2.0) in a row. The speed and precision with which you finish your films attracts a lot of attention...
It attracts attention because it is hard, quite rare and not something that a hero can do on a regular basis. The three films in question were all being shot last year but it was only by chance that I had to wrap all three of them in one hectic month. Thank God for continuity assistants (on film sets), otherwise apart from my insane makeup and costumes for 2.0 [Robot sequel], I didn’t know what clothes I was wearing or which moustache had to be put on (laughs).
Speaking of creativity, you have overhauled your career with films such as Special 26, Baby, OMG – Oh My God!, Rustom, Airlift and Jolly LLB. 2. Did you plan it out?
Thank you for your kind words; I’ll enjoy them for a while before I fall off the pedestal (laughs). It was definitely a concoction of timing, bravery and growth. Above all, cinemagoers’ maturity and their level of acceptance has grown drastically, and that alone has given me the opportunity to branch out and rediscover my acting abilities. It has let me sign scripts that directors believed only I could pull off. These feelings are worth [their weight in] gold.
Does that high keep you going?
I couldn’t have turned a blind eye [to such films] out of a fear of not delivering blockbusters. I really think I’ve reached a point in my career where I’m just enjoying the quality [of films] rather than the quantity, despite the fact that I still have films releasing back-to-back. What I like is that no one expects what I have in store. And being refreshing is just as important as being versatile.
You have always been proactive when it comes to the armed forces...
I believe everyone should be more proactive towards the armed forces, regardless of whether they’re connected to them. We sit comfortably in our homes while people fight for our safety. Just being ‘shocked’ when servicemen and women die is not enough; they don’t need you to be shocked. Instead, they need their loved ones to be looked after. We should give back as much to these people. They are braver than us and do a job that we respect, but fear to our own graves.
Aaditya Thackeray and you have been running free self-defense classes for women for four years, and have trained more than 20,000 girls so far. How has the journey been?
First, let me say that Aaditya Thackeray has not only been a great friend through all of this, he has also wholeheartedly supported this martial arts movement. Touch wood, our women’s self-defense programme is growing by the month. Our mission is to not stop until every girl in the country has the opportunity to learn self-defense for free, and that should start with schools. They can protect themselves better in the world with the right skills and confidence. If I could change some men’s mentality, I would. But unfortunately, even their mothers cannot. So, all I can do is protect women to the best of my ability by giving them the opportunity to protect themselves.