“I have the greed to keep on doing different roles”– Akshay Kumar
By Ankita R. Kanabar
(With inputs from Amul Mohan)
From the August 15, 2015 issue of Super Cinema
Sometimes the adage ‘more the merrier’ makes a lot of sense. While having a conversation with one actor can be quite enlightening, chatting with three together can only be a lot of fun. Not to mention how interesting it gets to hear out different views of different people! So here we were, on a bright Wednesday afternoon having a rendezvous with ‘The Beauty And The Brothers’. In a white shirt paired with black pants, Akshay Kumar continued to defy his age, looking fit and fabulous. He had his signature humour and honesty right in place, which makes him a sheer delight to speak to, always. On the other hand, we had Sidharth Malhotra exuding immense charm, completely justifying his heartthrob status among women. Being icing on the cake, Jacqueline Fernandez in a pretty peach dress – was poised in parts, yet a partner-in-crime when the brothers cracked jokes and had fun. We chatted to this trio about ‘Brothers’, Akshay Kumar completing 25 years in the industry, and lots more. Read on…
Evidently, ‘Brothers’ is about Mixed Martial Arts, but apart from that, was it the fact that it’s high on emotions that drove you towards doing it?
Akshay Kumar (AK): MMA is one of the major reasons for me to do the film, but we did the film not just because of that, but also for the emotions. The emotional level of ‘Brothers’ is 60 per cent more than the original, ‘Warrior’. We are a country that loves emotions. When I read the script, or even when I saw the film, I could vouch for the fact that men are going to cry more seeing it. And it’s going to be difficult for women to see men cry like that. To have an MMA kind of background and still make people cry – that’s a unique combination. So, I think ‘Brothers’ is the best gift I could get at a time when I’m completing 25 years of my film career.
And you’ve also said that it’s been the most physically draining film for you…
AK: One of the most difficult actually. Both Sidharth and I worked very hard, so it was challenging for both of us.
Sidharth Malhotra (SM): As far as the prep is concerned, this film required the maximum time. I didn’t do anything for four months – I would only train, eat and sleep. For me at this stage to not do anything for four months is a big deal because this is the phase where one has to work more hard. I’ve not reached a phase where people will wait for a year for my film. So, it was a bit of a risk.
Jacqueline for you as well, was this a departure of sort from what you’ve done so far?
Oh yes, big time! It was like my first movie, everything was so different. There was nothing I could relate to, or I haven’t experienced anything like that in my real life as well. But I think it was about time I did something different and something that people had not expected. I was hesitant to take this project at first, but now I feel it was a fantastic decision because it’s helped me grow so much.
When you’re doing a remake like this, do you prefer seeing the original, or would you rather not watch it just to avoid performing the same way?
AK: We’d seen it before there was any plan of making it, just as an audience. But once I was offered this film, I didn’t see it again.
SM: For me it didn’t make a difference because my character is very different from Tom Hardy. My character is a lot younger. We’ve changed it by about 40 per cent. In this film, we show the back story of my character which is not shown in the original. Even the drama is very different.
Sidharth, not many new actors prefer doing a film with a big star since the limelight obviously would be on the latter. But did you see things differently and thought of ‘Brothers’ as an opportunity to learn?
SM: This is where my background comes in, where it’s not so film-oriented and my calculations are different. I don’t think that I’ll be sharing screen-space with such a big persona and won’t be noticed. My decisions are more personal. The way I looked at it, was that I’ll get to do something I haven’t done. I loved the original, I thought I’ll get to learn a new sport and play such an intense character. I was sold at the first meeting when Karan Malhotra told me I’ll have to put on ten kilos, since in general I have a big built and normally people tell me to tone down. So, I didn’t see it in the overall scheme of calculation. For me, if I’m doing something new, it’ll only add to my resume is what I believe.
Talking of resume, 25 years in the industry and being at this stature…how do you continue to push the envelope with each film and be disciplined as opposed to taking it lightly or throwing starry tantrums, AK?
That’s because of my greed. I have the greed to keep on doing different roles all the time. For instance, a film like ‘Holiday’ or ‘Baby’ or ‘Gabbar’ and now ‘Brothers’ – I feel good that these scripts have come to me and I am only greedy to play those roles. Which is why, it’s not like I just want to come and do my job for the sake of it. Thankfully, I also have the time. People ask me how can I do three-four films a year. I think it’s very easy. I’m not the first one to do that. I’m not saying that people who do one film a year are wrong. They have their own ways, I have my own. I don’t know anything else, but acting and being in this industry so I’d like to make the most of it. Plus I also have so much time on hand to be with my family, go on holidays. After every three months, I take seven days off. Sundays I don’t work. Saturdays are half days (smiles).
And when you’re relatively new, does success give you more confidence?
JF: I think it’s funny that only today Akshay and I were talking about my first item song ‘Dhanno’. I was like a deer in headlights in that song. I think when I first started, I lacked a lot of confidence and that really set me back. Now with certain movies, roles and of course, success, my confidence is growing. That helps because you have to be first sure of who you are, before you slip into a character and be someone else. And when you’re confident about yourself that comes across very beautifully on-screen.
SM: After ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ when people started telling me they liked me performance, it felt good because it was a small film, with no big sets. And then during ‘Ek Villain’ we had big numbers on the first day so you know people went to see your film. My struggle was to first make a place for myself at least, because there are so many people here. Being an outsider, with no film background, when you realise people have gone to watch your film, it does makes you happy and confident about your next film.
From ‘Saugandh’ that released in 1991 to ‘Brothers’ in 2015, how much have things changed for you?
AK: A lot! I have changed myself so much, the technology has changed, the zeros added on my cheque have changed (laughs). Of course, even the audience has changed.
JF: I don’t think you have changed as a person.
AK: Oh that you’ll have to ask people who’ve worked with me in the beginning of my career (smiles).
SM: I wonder how he was on set at that point. I used to really like films like ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anari’, ‘Khiladi’, ‘Mohra’. He always had the knack of making even an action film entertaining. The humour he would get was so new for that time.
I think the one thing that has also remained the same is how he reacts to success and failure….How have you managed to not blow your trumpet during success or get bogged down by failure and simply move on?
AK: I don’t have a choice.
JF: Stress doesn’t solve anything.
AK: Yes, it never solves anything. But failure requires you to concentrate more. It is like your body – it tells you, “okay enough, you need to work out more or eat a certain way or I’m going to collapse.” It keeps you on your toes.
JF: It is about knowing your mistakes
SM: So, the trick is to not be in denial of your mistakes.