Akshay Kumar: We are keeping our fingers very tightly crossed that the worst is over
It was raining release date announcements in Bollywood over the weekend, after cinemas were given a green signal to reopen in Maharashtra. But, for Akshay Kumar alone, there was this special line-up queued up. The actor announced release date for not one or two but five of his films — Sooryavanshi, Prithviraj, Bachchan Pandey, RakshaBandhan and Ram Setu — that are all set to finally hit the big screens over the next one year. There’s also Oh My God and Atrangi Re, both of which are likely to release sometime next year. In an exclusive interview, Kumar talks about keeping up his pace of four to five films a year, ensuring all releases are spaced out, and how the entire film industry is finally hoping got good times ahead.
So, how is it like to finally have the pending and much awaited backlog finally ready to release over next one year?
It is a good feeling, having four to five releases in a year again. The life, as we all knew and lived, is back now; things are getting back to normal again, and I hope it stays that way (fingers so tightly crossed that they hurt). Since the past year-and-a-half, we have been waiting behind the scenes with bated breath for the right time to showcase and unleash the entertainment to the audiences.
Do you feel it’s going to be an ‘Akshay Kumar overdose’ at the box office? Does such a thing worry you or excite you as an actor?
If you have seen the release dates, they are all spaced out like how my films used to be before the pandemic... a film comes out after a span of three to four months, and that’s how it is even now. As for it being an overdose, I don’t think so. Since all the films belong to completely different genres, there is something there for everyone. As an actor, finally my films are again going to be enjoyed on the big screen, like how they are meant to be, this is the most excited I’ve been in a very long time.
Amid all this, Atrangi Re is missing from the theatrical release line-up. Since the film is ready, do you plan to announce it soon?
To be honest, I haven’t yet included Atrangi Re in the list (of theatrical releases), because we are still mulling over whether it should be a theatrical film or an OTT release. It has a fantastic, never-heard-before subject and storyline. For me and (director) Anand L Rai, it is critical that the most suited platform is chosen for the film. Also for me, good content goes hand in hand with the platform. I am as much for OTT as for theatres. What’s best for the film should decide the medium of release. OTT may simply be the medium of choice for Atrangi Re, as it looks right now.
As many as 20 films announced their release dates in one single day. Of course actors and filmmakers are hoping that these will finally bring people back into theatres. Do you agree it’s time for people to leave the fear behind and step out to experience the big screen magic?
Absolutely, and I think people have already started doing that because till when can you stay cooped up at home with life being at a standstill? Offices have started, people are working out... going to the gym, parks etc., eating out at restaurants, visiting malls if they are fully vaccinated, travelling and going on vacations. So why single out going to the movies? Films have been around to entertain you since decades and now they need your support to revive and survive. And I’m sure together we will manage to do so in no time. Though I would still urge the audiences to follow all the safety protocols that have been listed out by the concerned authorities.
Even before the second wave, a lot of films announced their theatrical release including Sooryavanshi, but again, the shutdown of theatres changed everything. With fear of a third wave looming, is there a back-up plan this time? Has the film industry thought through it?
If I could say anything on behalf of the industry, it is just that we are being hopeful like we were before the second wave and keeping our fingers very tightly crossed that the worst is over. We are just going with the flow. It’s been a very tough year-and-a-half for the entire industry with everyone bleeding money but things are finally looking up with the reopening of cinemas in Maharashtra (from October 22). And I hope the audiences have missed watching us as much as we’ve missed them. I’m truly looking forward to a great year at the movies.
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