2012 cemented Akshay Kumar’s almost invincible box office power with three box office winners in Housefull 2, Rowdy Rathore and OMG, out of the five films he did in the year. Akshay’s been on a hot streak for a while now and he knows it, with the numbers screaming his consistent and reliable star status. Special 26 is Akshay’s first 2013 release wherein he adds singing to his many onscreen talents with the track, Mujh Main Tu. Special 26 explores the most feared government agency in the 80s in India, the CBI and releases on 8 February.
Of late, you seem to have a fascination with numbers in your film titles like Khiladi 786 and now, Special 26 that releases on 8 February - is it intentional and in conference with your directors or just you?
Khiladi 786 was definitely my title and the number is so significant all across India; it was the whole and soul of my film. As much as I love numbers, with Special 26, it was totally different. This title is purely down to history as the film is based on a real life story back in the 1980s, and the number 26 came from my director Neeraj Pandey and his research for the film.
You are the highest tax payer in the Bollywood sector, self-admittedly. Is it the first time or have you worn the crown before?
‘Unfortunately’ it is not the first time the tax man has reaped the most benefits in Bollywood out of me, but as long as they are putting my hard earned money to some good use, I can’t complain. It is an achievement in itself to be the highest tax payer in my industry, but then I make so many films and work on that many projects, it’s bound to happen a few times over the years, especially 2012, it being a bit of a box office year for me. For the record, I assure you there is no crown involved when being the highest tax payer, in fact I think only the tax man wins in this scenario.
You have sung a song in Special 26, Mujh Main Tu - how did that happen?
Well, I was so in love with the song, that after listening to it for months and months in my car, it just meant more and more to me everyday. It was a spur of the moment thing wherein I said “I’d be honoured to sing the song in a studio, do what you wish with the end product”. I just felt in my heart I’d really appreciate a chance to bring in a little bit of me to the song, in my own sweet way. So far, I’ve been forced to sing it everywhere I go, at events, colleges, hockey stadiums - I didn’t know people would react this positively to the song which was born of out a very innocent suggestion to the team.
Would you say you have a singing voice, given your voice is not very deep or high... Will you try and cut an album or sing more often like say Farhan Akhtar does?
Uhhhhh no!!! I know my limits - there’s a difference between a God given talent like what Farhan has and a harmless effort to try out something you’re passionate about, like I have. Farhan is too good and I wouldn’t dream of making an album! I’m a Copy King! I like copying what other people have so magically created!
In Special 26, you’ve once again gone into multiple physical personalities as the trailers exhibit - how do you do that so effortlessly? Every look looks very convincing and not out of place in the least...
Why thank you my dear, that’s very kind of you. I am a bit of a chameleon on the inside - the more characters I’m given to play, the more I enjoy my day. You see, we shoot for months on end, playing the same characters, day in day out, so when you are given multiple roles to perform in one film daily, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I couldn’t be happier! The director was adamant it was me that played my character, which is such a compliment, because when one man has that much faith in you, you become fearless, I followed Neeraj-ji blindly and completely surrendered to his vision and together, we’ve brought something new to the table, which is exactly what we set out to do.
What kind of film costume do you enjoy wearing the most - the cop uniform, exquisite designer suits, dhotis, lungis, casual jeans and tees or...?
I’m dying or should I say living, to do a film in my pajamas! I think I’ve worn every material known to man kind and it’s finally taking a toll on me. I just want to be comfortable, there’s nothing more annoying than being made to do kick ass action, but then the designer has chosen tight jeans, a tucked-in shirt, sharp shoes and a tie for the shot and it’s like my worst nightmare! By the time I’ve kicked my first goon, I’ve torn the crotch of my jeans, my shirt has ripped apart from the back and the tie is choking me. Why can’t we all do action in a pair of track pants and cotton tees? Having said that, I do love wearing a dapper suit. It is undeniably the best thing about being a man – you feel like one when you wear a sharp, tailored suit custom made only to fit you!
How has the birth of your daughter changed you, especially since you share a very close bond with your son Aarav and do all the sporty things together?
It’s still very early for Nitara to be doing any kind of sports. I mean she’s only 4 months young after all. So Aarav and I have plenty of years ahead till we start worrying about Nitara kicking some Kung Fu out of the two of us! Aarav has sworn blind he will teach her everything he knows and seeing as he’s already a brown belt in karate, I need not worry about Nitara being able to defend herself. We are yet to see whether she becomes adventurous like me, or artistic like her mother Tina. Either way, we’re happy. But no one can change the bond between my son and me, just like when Nitara grows up and starts to need me, we will have our own personal magic that will be just as unbreakable!
Will Nitara be scaling walls and jumping off trees too like Aarav?
Who knows, but if Aarav gets his way she will be in the gym by the time she’s two years old, climbing along behind him. Even his two cousin sisters train with him any chance they can. We are a family that plays together, trains together and of course eats together.
You have worked with all the new girls – Deepika Padukone, Anuskha Sharma, Sonakshi Sinha, Asin... Who are you most compatible with on set?
It really depends on the film. I had a much bigger connection with Asin in Khiladi 786 than in HouseFull 2 purely because the script permitted us to. I genuinely get along with all my heroines and for some unknown reason, they all feel safe and looked after when I’m around. I make a genuine effort to make everyone feel comfortable on every set. Filming is a very daunting experience, especially if you are a newcomer and I don’t want anyone coming to work feeling like they don’t belong. By the time they get around to doing their second films with me, they know all my jokes and stories, so it’s easy. But to answer your question you’ll have to ask my fans. I never think how compatible I am with an actress, because we are all playing characters, so there is nothing real therefore, there’s nothing to feel.
How does it feel being a dependable winner at the box office for all your films? Whatever cost they are made at, your producers and distributors never suffer... what's the secret?
My secret is quite obvious actually, which is to be a producers’ actor, get to work on time, don’t mess around with scheduled dates, give your best shot, despite how you are feeling on the inside and most importantly, stay within the budget of the film. Next, charge what you are worth in the film that you are making, not what you feel like. Promote the film honestly, keep your fans faith and they will keep their faith in you. Put all this together and 8 out of 10 times, you will succeed, but there are exceptions to every situation.