Akshay Kumar can celebrate the success of his latest Bollywood movie "Singh Is Kinng" these day. Even in Germany the film is very successful; not only for the Indian community but also for the German fans of the Hindi cinema. For more than 20 years Akshay has been successful in the Indian filmindustry. In the interview he's talking about "Singh Is Kinng" and his new image as Superstar:
You’re on an amazing run at the box office. Has that now put added pressure on you to deliver?
Akshay: It has! As an actor and as a professional, it’s only obvious that you want to better your previous release and keep setting new standards and benchmarks for yourself. To that extent, it is difficult because you know that expectations from the audience have risen even higher and you have to be able to meet them, or better still, surpass them. It is scary but it is a challenge I endeavor to live up to.
What has been the secret of your success?
Akshay: (Laughs) I wish I could answer that! First and foremost, the blessings of God, my family and well-wishers, and above all, my fans who’ve faithfully stood by me and appreciated my efforts.
How are you selecting your projects?
Akshay: I’ve reached that stage in my career where I want to be consciously selective about the work I take on because my audience is expecting a lot. I can’t afford to let them down. As an actor, I’ve done more than hundred films till date essaying a diverse range of characters. Now there has to be something really different or challenging for me to want to pursue it. Else I have no qualms about giving the project a skip.
What attracted you to Singh is Kinng?
Akshay: I have an excellent tuning with my producer (Vipul Shah) and director (Anees Bazmee) with whom I’ve worked before. Singh Is Kinng worked for me at a number of levels – I was excited about playing a through and through Sikh character. I’m a Punjabi myself and have never been too happy about the sms jokes that are poked at Sikhs. They are a phenomenally colorful race and there’s so much that can be done with a Sikh character. When the script was narrated to me I fell in love with it because it had all the ingredients of a commercial entertainer with an underlying message about positive attitude.
Can you tell us about the film and character you play?
Akshay: I play Happy Singh, a reckless and happy-go-lucky sardar from the pind who is asked to go to Australia by the villagers to bring back a group of miscreants who were tarnishing the name of the community overseas. The unexpected twist of events that takes place is what constitutes the crux of the story.
Who will the film appeal to?
Akshay: My films have a universal audience and Singh Is Kinng will be no different! It is one for all the families to sit back, enjoy and have a laugh!
There’s an interesting story behind how you came across the title of the film?
Akshay: While I was shooting for ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ in Jaipur, I saw a Sikh driving a truck, which had ‘Singh is King’ written on the back. I called up Vipul Shah immediately and told him that I had a title for the film. Of course the extra ‘n’ that came in ‘King’ was for numerological reasons!
How does Katrina Kaif compare to your other leading ladies?
Akshay: This is our fourth film together and I can truly say that she has come a long way! Katrina has evolved into an extremely confident and diligent actress who is very well turned out and popular with the audience. It’s always a pleasure to work with her.
Can you talk a little about your look in the film?
Akshay: As I mentioned earlier, I play a Sikh character so I’m in a turban throughout the film! That’s my look and it’s a first for me!
What was it like getting reconnected with your Punjabi roots?
Akshay: There’s a lot of the real me in the character of Happy Singh! I was perfectly at ease essaying the character because I am from Punjab myself. At the same time, I had to be very careful about my look, body language and dialogues so as to avoid hurting the sentiments of a community unintentionally.
What was the logic behind shooting a portion in Egypt? Does it go with the narrative?
Akshay: It does, indeed. Katrina’s character in the film is based in Egypt and the narrative moves from Punjab to Egypt and on to Australia.
Can you talk a little about the music?
Akshay: The soundtrack of Singh Is Kinng is extremely unconventional – in fact, it’s extremely British-Asian and American-Asian in its sound. We have a breadth of singers from Daler Mehndi to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to Neeraj Shridhar to Mika Singh who’ve rendered the songs. There’s one soft romantic duet, a boy-meets-girl dance number, Bhangra, Hip-Hop, R&B. Pritam has done a very good job of the music, which explains why it topped the charts within a week of release.
What are your biggest passions away from work?
Akshay: I enjoy spending time with my family and going out on short breaks with them. Aarav is growing up and needs his father to be around.
Can you see yourself following in the footsteps of other stars and directing a film?
Akshay: I’ve never followed others’ footsteps. Currently, I am concentrating on acting and producing the odd film if I believe in it.
With Singh Is Kinng you have turned producer. We see the logo of your production company Hari Om Films on all the publicity?
Akshay: I have been busy doing what I love and do best, and that’s acting in movies. Just because half the industry has turned producer doesn’t mean I was slow. I work at my pace and do things when I’m ready. Of course, there was an extremely long thought process behind it as production is a stressful job. My production house and name are both very dear to me and so is everything that I will produce going forward.
A section of the media and industry are touting you as the new superstar. How does it feel?
Akshay: It’s taken two decades for people to call me No.1, superstar, etc. While that’s not a very happy feeling I suppose I’ll utter in the same breath – better late than never! Being in a good position puts the others in an insecure one. So I know I’ve got to be prepared for people to rip me apart and criticize me to close quarters and behind closed doors. Honestly, I think I’ve moved beyond all that. What matters to me today is my family, my friends and well-wishers, and the love and appreciation of my audience and fans.
Does it bother you that you’re still seen as a ladies man even though you’re married?
Akshay: Not really! (Smiles) There’s a time and place for everything. I’m not denying my past but after a point in life you realize that you have to move on and settle down for good. That’s when I married my beautiful wife. I’m sure that I’m a soft target for many but it doesn’t bother me. People who are close to me know the truth and that’s what really matters!
© Interview/Photos: Studio18 India/Viral Bhayani