|BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu | FEBRUARY 2013
Akshay Kumar: Special 26 Has Been My Best Decision All Year
Ayushmann Khurrana: On Life After Vicky Donor
Arjun Rampal: D-Day is Not Asambhav
David: Director Rues Star System
Varun Dhawan: Not Yet Getting Mobbed
Special 26 Has Been My Best Decision All Year: Akshay Kumar
(Above): Akshay Kumar (c) with Anupam Kher (2nd from l) and others in “Special 26.”
If Akshay Kumar is excited about the prospects of his upcoming film Special 26, he is making no attempts to hide that. With the Neeraj Pandey-film carrying wonderful reports and all thoughts being positive about the film, the common sentiment is that Akshay Kumar is redefining himself with the film. One wonders whether that indeed was Akshay's endeavour when he signed the film.
“Absolutely 100%, you have hit the nail right on the head and hopefully so have I,” smiles Akshay, “I did this film purely to push my boundaries as an actor, start from scratch, go back to the acting school and surrender myself to my director. I wanted to become the character that Neeraj Pandeyji clearly saw in me, even when I didn’t.”
“That’s what’s so great about surrendering yourself to a role; instead of feeling weak or vulnerable, this film has lent a new light on cinema for me in the future. Whether this film does well or not, the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this kind of shoot and that too with the utmost respect for all who were involved, it is a sign that when I hang up my ‘Action Cloak’ and put my ‘Clown Suit’ back in the box, I have an even bigger trick up my sleeve i.e. ‘acting’,” says Akshay with a wide grin.
He can't stop acknowledging his director whose A Wednesday was a brilliant piece of cinema and is widely acknowledged as one of the best modern day thrillers to have come out of Bollywood. No wonder, it was an exciting thought for Akshay to get associated with the director.
“Exciting, isn’t the word, ‘honored’ is more like it. Neeraj Sir is such a respected man in this industry and for good reason. He has no airs, he is a man’s man and he is here for one and only one reason i.e. to tell stories through his gift of directing,” says Akshay, “What really meant the world to me was that he came again to me saying Akshay, this role is for you and only you; if you do not play this character, I will shelve the film. When a National Award winning director has that much faith in you, one can’t help but grip the opportunity with both hands. I can proudly say that so far it’s been the best decision all year.”
And the year has just begun.
Ayushmann: On Life After Vicky Donor
(Above): Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam in “Vicky Donor.”
It's that time of the year for Ayushmann Khurrana when after commercial success and critical acclaim, awards have started coming his way as well. Close on the heels of bagging a three film contract with Yash Raj Films, the youngster has also starting collecting trophies for ‘Best Debut of 2012,’ courtesy his spirited performance in Vicky Donor.
There was competition from the likes of Arjun Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra in the year gone by. Didn't that make you feel a little anxious?
“The question is not about whether I get an award or not. What is important is that this is renaissance period for Indian cinema. The fact that so many of us youngsters have started making an impression is a good enough deal. Otherwise a couple of years back it was Ranbir Kapoor who made an impression par usse pehle kaun tha ye kisi ko yaada nahi.”
Exactly ten months have gone by since the release of “Vicky Donor.” Have you settled down to the fact that Ayushmann of today has a different positioning in the industry than it was before the film's release?
“Ayushmann of today is very different from that of the days of television. See, TV is always a second fiddle to Indian cinema. You may be called the star of the masses par fact yeh hai ki TV hamesha peeche hi rahega, chahe kuch bhi keh lo. That's what I feel and this is the reason why I am so very critical about every performance of mine. I want to grow with every film. You would see that in Nautanki Saala where I have acted, sung and composed better. Also, the kind of respect that you get here in the movies is different from TV. People have started respecting me more and are seeing me in a different light.”
How about acting in a different light as well in films to come? Have you given a thought for yourself from the genre perspective?
“In fact there is no plan. I am getting every kind of film and genre and whatever excites me most, I will go for it. It could be a commercial film or parallel cinema, I am fine with that. As I said, this is a golden age of cinema. We are seeing Dabangg 2 and Rowdy Rathore accepted along with Vicky Donor and Gangs of Wasseypur. In such plethora of opportunities, it would be stupid of me to say that main aise hi roles karoonga.”
Arjun Rampal: D-Day is Not Asambhav
(Above): Arjun Rampal in “D-Day.”
After working in a rather realistic Inkaar, Arjun Rampal is now stepping into an altogether different world. This time he is happily turning into a killer with a dramatic action thriller D-Day, the shooting of which is currently on.
“Well, ‘killer’ would be wrong word here,” laughs Arjun, “He is basically an agent who turns to being an assassin. There is a back story to him around whether he has any heart whatsoever and why does he kill people. At the core of it though it is a thriller-cum-drama with a lot of action in it. The whole film is like a conspiracy theory that something like this or that could have actually happened and what you see on the face isn't something that reflects reality.”
What is real is the fact that he has knowingly stepped into a film which is directed by Nikhil Advani who has faced rough weather with his last few releases (Chandni Chowk To China, Patiala House). Notwithstanding the vast critical response that he received for each of these films, Nikhil is looking at changing gears with D-Day which has to work big for him. Can Arjun see that fire burning inside his director?
“I can confidently state that this is the kind of film that is in Nikhil's alley. The people who know him are saying that it was about time he makes a thriller. He is very interesting, strong and a powerful director,” says Arjun.
He denies any similarities with Asambhav where he had played an agent out on a mission even as conspiracy games were played all around him and other characters, including the President of India.
“No, there is no similarity whatsoever with Asambhav; D-Day is far more realistic,” says Arjun, “From a performance point of view there is lot more to do and there are quite a few dynamics in this character. It is not just about action and there are performances talking the talk as well. Having said that, the kind of action you would see in the film is wonderful. Just watching Nikhil on the sets along with the (Hollywood) action director Tom Struthers brings in energy of a different kind.”
David Director Rues Star System
(Above): Neil Nitin Mukesh in “David.”
David is getting good reports and filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar is ecstatic about all the dedication shown by his actors (Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vikram, Vinay Virmani) for the film. However one regret that he carries till date is the way some of the top production houses operate, as a result of which some independent films suffer.
“Independent producers as well as corporate studios are happy to bank roll your film as long as you bring to them a complete package affair with stars leading from the top,” says Bejoy whose Shaitan was a largely star-less affair before the burden of ‘big league’ was thrust upon him, “Everyone works like that and it takes a lot of guts to back a film which is based purely on content and not on stars. However all of them with big money are looking as just being safe.”
Mellowing down a little, he reflects, “Okay, so I understand that they are also not wrong; after all they can't take chances when stakes are so high. However they should also understand that independent films don't necessarily have to be small with small ideas. At times they too may need certain kind of budget and there should be people who back it. When it comes to stars, they are willing to fund to your liking. However they don't even want to take one rupee chance when it comes to small films.”
This makes one wonder what is stopping Bejoy from taking the plunge as well and make star-studded films. As long as his script is strong, one tends to believe that it wouldn't be a challenge for him to make his next as a full-on star affair.
“But then stars have their plates full so we are all back to nothing,” he shoots back, “Okay, so I may request a production house to intervene but then no one wants to go and convince a star. They want everything ready. In fact they don't even want to see your script till your cast is ready. I went to every big one in the industry but no one said that “Ok Bejoy, you give me this ready script and I will go and get these stars together.” No, none of that ever happened. So what should one do in that case?”
Varun Dhawan: Not Yet Getting Mobbed
(Above): Varun Dhawan and Aila Bhatt in “Student of the Year.”
Over 100 days have gone by since the dream release of Student of the Year and as per it's lead actor Varun Dhawan, “absolutely nothing” has changed. The fact that he is still getting his fair share of scolding from his mom is a testimony of the fact that it is as normal as it can get for the youngster who is already being looked at as the next big thing.
So is the feeling of being a star struck you?
“Arrey please, honestly mujhe aisa koyi change nahi lag raha hai (smiles). Those who say ki ek picture ke baad hi change aa jaata hai, woh jhoot bolte hain. Kuch zameen assmaan ka faraq nahi hai. I have come to realize that unless you are Sachin Tendulkar, one of the three Khans or someone amongst the top six stars of the country, nothing changes at all.”
You seem to be finding some good attention coming your way from the female folks though?
“If 5, 10 or 50 of them come, say “Hi” and go then that is no big deal. I am not seeing any stampede with 1000-2000 people behind me when I walk on roads. It isn't like if I go to theatres then people don't allow me to watch a film. I guess that kind of hardcore excitement takes time to build on. I am not yet getting mobbed and that's not my aim either.”
So what's your aim?
“I would tell you something that Karan (Johar) said to me. He said that you concentrate on being an actor and audience would do the rest to make you a star. My goal is to be an actor for my own and also audience satisfaction. Hopefully both of us would be entertained.”
Smart and modest?