Adaptability is the secret to Akshay Kumar's success.
Akshay Kumar needs no introduction in the world of Bollywood cinema – a prolific actor with more than two decades of acting experience behind him, the 46-year-old star is known for his great looks, excellent physique and the ability to churn out consistently crowd-pleasing hits.
Having first made his name in the early 1990s with a series of action movies like Khiladi and Mohra, Akshay has thus far acted in almost 100 movies, and starred in some of the most commercially successful Bollywood releases, including Singh Is Kinng, Welcome and Rowdy Rathore.
His ability to pull off both pulse-racing action and slapstick comedy means his films, while not always critically-acclaimed, rake in the rupees by the millions.
Thanks to his versatility, he has dabbled in practically every genre, from romance (Dhadkan) to thriller (Khakhee).
And despite being widely regarded as a commercial actor, he has also received critical acclaim for films like Dil To Pagal Hai, Sangharsh and Ajnabee, scooping up a Filmfare Award for Best Performance In A Negative Role for the last.
Akshay’s upcoming release sees him returning to the action genre with Holiday, a remake of the hit Tamil-language movie Thuppaki. Directed by A.R. Murugadoss, the movie also stars Sonakshi Sinha (as Akshay’s love interest) and Govinda.
Akshay tells us in an e-mail interview about his new release, his acting career and the niche he has carved for himself in Bollywood.
Tell us what Holiday is about.
I play Virat Bakshi, a military officer who comes home to Mumbai on holiday after protecting the Indian borders. However, unbeknownst to his fellow officers, my character is also a secret Defense Intelligence Agent (DIA), and he gets caught up in a terror attack that sees a crowded bus blown to pieces.
It is a very relevant film in today’s times, and it deals with an issue that few people are aware of.
I’ve learnt about the field of intelligence whilst researching this role, and heard stories of sleeper cells, the role they played in terrorist attacks, and the importance of cleaning them up to safeguard nations.
That is exactly what this film is about: a soldier is never off duty! There is so much this film will highlight about what really goes on in our streets. Thanks to the Indian Army, we get to sleep a lot safer.
Working on a remake, how did you make the role your own?
I think that happens quite naturally, every actor has their own unique style and substance to bring to a role.
For my role, Murugadoss opened my mind and sucked me into his version of death and destruction. The man looks gentle, but his mind works like a genius!
You are best known for your comedy and action films. Given a choice, do you have a favourite?
This is a tough question. I have an absolute passion for both comedy (Charlie Chaplin is one of my idols!) and martial arts (I’m a die-hard Bruce Lee fan!). I would have to say that both are my favourites; the ideal role would involve both comedy and action, like Rowdy Rathore.
What is the secret to your success and staying power?
I would say my ability to adapt and diversify. Being in the entertainment industry, you need to be able to adapt to the industry, and more importantly, to your audience and what issues are affecting them.
The beauty of Holiday is that it touches upon very true-to-life issues we all face today; terrorism is a challenge for us all, and I hope that this film will make people more aware of what is going on around them.
You’ve had both massive hits and misses. How do you deal with a project that fails to succeed?
You can never expect a 100% success rate, that’s life! From my films that have not done so well, I have learned valuable lessons, but I never see them as failures; a lesson is the next step in the direction you want to go, it’s never a step back.
It may be gut-wrenching for a day or two, but only because one cares about the blood and sweat everyone gave to the project. It’s never something you can’t overcome. Flops are like staring a bully right in the eye and saying, “Yeah, what you gonna do about it?!”
What is your dream role?
I have no dream role and no expectations, whatever comes my way I am happy to receive. I never rule out a role until I’ve read the script fully and explored the idea first. I’m an open-minded man, nothing is too big or too small to attempt in this life.
You are well-known for your sense of style. How, after having been in the industry for more than 20 years, do you continue keeping your look fresh and interesting?
As I’ve grown and matured, my style has too. I try to always be comfortable in what I am wearing. Stars can’t get away with looking like they don’t care offscreen anymore. It’s lucky that I enjoy fashion, and I like to push the boundaries every so often.
Whether I start a trend or end up on the fashion police list, it doesn’t matter; as long as I like what I wear, I think the confidence comes across. It doesn’t always work, but when it does and you see college kids copying your style, it makes you want to keep giving them something new.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What kind of roles do you think you’ll be doing?
Who knows where I’ll be? I try not to think too far ahead and just enjoy the moment. I hope I will still be making films of course, as that is my absolute passion. As long as my fans still want me, I will keep on going.
> Holiday opens in selected cinemas nationwide today.