Bollywood star actor and producer Akshay Kumar rose from a humble beginning on the streets of Chandni Chowk, to being admired by many fans worldwide.
In this interview with Online Editor, LEKAN OTUFODUNRIN and MERCY MICHAEL, the actor opened up on Bollywood @100 and the future of Indian films. He also talked about relationship with his female fans among other things:
YOU have been variously described as the undisputed king of Indian cinema, one of the world’s most famous Indian film stars and the global ambassador for Indian cinema, how would you describe yourself?
I have been so lucky for my career to have been so successful and I am very thankful and grateful to all my loyal fans and the great directors, producers, film crews and actors who have helped me give my best performances. Although I may not have come from a ‘traditional’ background in regards to what makes a successful Bollywood star I believe the support around me and the love of my family (whether or not they have been in the industry) has really been at the roots of my success. Every movie has been momentous and life changing for me because I have learnt, whether to play a different type of role or from the character I’m playing.
As someone who stumbled into acting, what has been your general experience as a film actor and producer?
My journey has been incredible – a guy from the streets of Chandni Chowk, to being admired by my adoring fans the world over, and making my mother, father, wife and children proud of what I have achieved (and yet to) I am truly blessed. I think the key to success for any actor is determination and ambition. Being a producer is a tough job but an extremely satisfying one. As an actor you only have to focus on your character and playing it convincingly. You do what your director wants you to do to the best of your ability, but as a producer it’s the whole film that you have to look after and it’s a big responsibility. As with any industry there will be a number of ups and downs to overcome, therefore it is so important to stay positive at all times. There were times when things were bad, even ugly, but I loved what I did too much to bow down to the pressure.
What are the gains and pains of being a superstar?
I love my profession and working in this industry. I owe my life to it on so many levels. As far as the competition goes, rather than cut throat, I see it as healthy competition which keeps you on your toes – it keeps things fresh and ever evolving. One cannot afford to become complacent in this, or indeed in any other industry. As long as my fans will have me, I am happily here to stay
In 2008 you were named the Sexiest Man alive by People Magazine. How were you able to cope with your numerous female fans then and now?
Numerous female fans? Lol. If a person lets such an honour go to his head, then he will become arrogant. I am so flattered and humbled to have received this notable honour, but I also try and stay grounded and not let it affect me. My main purpose is to make good movies that I’m proud of and happy with at the end of the day, and most importantly, that my fans will like my work.
Compared with other films, what would you say is unique about Indian films?
The Indian Film Industry started out in 1916 and has grown into a multimillion dollar industry. We are a very cultured country so obviously we portray a lot of dance from many cities as well as the multiple cultures and religions we have. We are very full on. Any excuse for a song and a dance number. As the years go by we are making many urban modern day movies but they will always have a touch of Masala. Indian films will always be Indian. It is a genre within itself albeit adaptable to new audiences and wider changes in the world of cinema, but without losing its core essence. The Indian film industry is booming. It has enjoyed a lot of success over the past 100 years as it celebrates its 100 year anniversary in 2013. Indian films have a mass, global appeal as they feature drama, comedy, music, dance and romance all in one! Indian films entertain, inspire and engage the audiences across the world.
What do you think is the future of Indian films?
We have an amazing new generation emerging in the industry, be it filmmakers, artists, scriptwriters, etc. They bring such a fresh and innovative perspective to the industry. I wouldn’t want to single out any particular individuals as there are many, hugely valued new members of our fraternity. It’s incredibly refreshing to work with such enthusiastic newcomers who just wanna change the way of everything positively
You have been involved with helping to bridge the gap between Indian cinema and Hollywood. How successful have you been in this attempt?
I think that as the world becomes increasingly connected, it is inevitable that the respective industries will continue to converge and collaborate. Slumdog Millionaire was a good example of that integration and highlighted the need and benefits for the two to merge. Hollywood and Bollywood differ hugely in terms of production, content and aesthetics but it is an exciting prospect to think of the potential that we can forge together, moving forward to create an entirely new genre of ‘world’ cinema. Through my own film projects, I was lucky enough to work with international stars such as Kylie, Snoop Dogg and Sylvester Stallone. Each was a wonderful experience in its own right, and so much that we shared and learned from each other in terms of our respective experiences in the entertainment industry.
What film are you working on now?
I have Boss this year which is directed by Tony D’Souza and also the sequel of Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. I am also filming for some very exciting new projects. I also have some very interesting regional projects through my company Grazing Goat Pictures such as the Punjabi film Ba Ji in Problem and the Marathi film 72 Miles. We also just announced another Marathi film Adhantari which will be shot extensively in London and stars Tanisha Mukherjee.
Do you still have any dream role or stunts you would want to play in films?
Now that’s a tough one for sure, let’s just say that there are many and more to come.
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