Akshay: We have the 100-crore gun pointed at our head
On a rainy Bangalore evening, Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar exudes energy and charm, despite having been stuck in traffic for over two hours. In the city to promote his next release, Khiladi 786, the actor takes time out to speak to TOI about his connection with Bangalore in his journey to becoming a superstar. Excerpts from the interview:
Bangalore and your journey have been quite synonymous. For Rowdy Rathore, you shot here again after a decade. What does the city mean to you?
Bangalore is where I began my journey as an actor. My first film Saugandh was shot here. I’ve shot for many of my films from the 90s here. So when I returned to shoot for Rowdy Rathore, for a day, it brought back many memories. I love this city, my best friend lives here. The only thing that has changed is the traffic. In the 90s, it used to be so peaceful. Today, the traffic is worse than Mumbai’s. But, if one discounts the traffic, Bangalore is the best city in India.
Yes, I’m working with (AR) Murugadoss. I like working with south Indian directors because they are very disciplined. They visualize their entire story and screenplay in their heads even before they start shooting, which I respect. They finish their work on time. Being a disciplinarian myself, this suits my style. I still remember, during my early days, that I had to wait for a producer at his office for over 45 minutes. I didn’t wait to meet him, I just left from there.
Has Kajal Aggarwal been retained as the heroine?
Honestly, we haven’t decided about the heroine yet. Kajal is a part of my film Special Chabbis. This is a delightfully intelligent script that has been scripted by Neeraj Pandey, who made A Wednesday!. Neeraj’s script is one of the few Indian scripts that have been adapted into a Hollywood film in recent times. Robert DeNiro is acting in that.
Word has it that your production house is soon entering the south market… I’ve always respected regional cinema. We’ve already done two films in Marathi and are doing one in Punjabi. We do have intentions of entering the south Indian industry, but it will take some time.
Do you watch a lot of regional films too?
Yes, I try to catch as many films as I can. I watched Thuppakki recently. I also watched Ravi Teja’s Don Seenu. I thought it was entertaining.
With two 100-crore films this year, do you feel the pressure for a third this year with this release?
Yes, speaking as a producer myself, the initial pressure lasts for the first weekend, because we have the 100-crore gun pointed at our head. So even achieving 99 crore is not good enough. I’d give it just another year before it becomes all about the 200-crore club.
Asin falls ill in Bangalore
The hectic promotional tour for her upcoming release Khiladi 786 finally took its toll on Asin. The actress, who flew into Bangalore on Tuesday evening, was battling a flu, but still sportingly attended all the activities planned for the team. But as soon as she was done, she retired to her room to consult a doctor, given that the last lap of the tour was still pending. Asin heads to Pune next.