Akshay Kumar is on a roll. With five back to back centuries behind him [Airlift, Housefull 3, Rustom, Jolly LLB 2, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha], he has been experimenting with varied genres films after film. He starts his 2018 campaign with PadMan which would be followed by 2.0 and Gold. We get chatting with the superstar as he braces up for the release of PadMan which is directed by R. Balki and has two women coming together as producers – Twinkle Khanna and Prernaa Arora.
Akshay, you definitely seem to be making some great and different choices for sure, be it Toilet – Ek Prem Katha or PadMan.
Toilet – Ek Prem Katha and PadMan are my way of helping spread the awareness I wish I had known since childhood; it would have made me an even more understanding son, brother and husband if I had known or been able to share with the women in my home the menstrual difficulties they face. Because it’s kept so quiet through pressures of society and backward thinking, it was never a topic of discussion, but the fact that I didn’t even know the struggles my own sister was going through and I shared a room with her has upset me more than you could imagine. To this day I wish I could have been there to help her through nature’s woes even though she never even let me know; I should have been more understanding.
While there are politicians and administrators definitely doing their bit to pass on the message of sanitization to ‘aam junta’, you seem to be doing it through your own entertaining medium of cinema?
They are doing an incredible job and the effort I’ve seen myself is inspiring & educational. It is just so humbling how many people I meet especially now who are trying to help and do their bit for those who can’t help themselves. Cinema is such a wide powerful medium to spread awareness on social causes, it can educate people on history in India, be it wars, royalty, even such events like the one seen in Airlift. The power of opinions, true life stories, even imaginary effects – all impact & leave some kind of imprint on cinema goers.
Still, the fact is that even in current times, be it in smaller towns or big cities sanitary napkins are still handed out in black polythene bags. How do you address even the classes that this is not a taboo after all?
By being the change that everyone no matter what their class is needs to see and hear, that’s how (smiles). When a man of fame or caliber comes out humbly but loud and respectfully to address a crisis I can only hope that people accept the bold move and embrace it with the same encouragement I have. I cannot force people to see things the way they ‘should’ be seen, but through the power of entertainment. I think via gentle persuasion and general realization (and of course a good storyline,) I believe people will discover for themselves by purely watching this film that this is something to be approached and not tossed aside and stamped on with the shameful label of ‘Too Taboo’.
In this new phase of your career, with choices like PadMan and many more, are you trying to imply that conventional ‘herogiri’ is passé now?
I’m implying nothing of the sorts. I make what I want to make and when; nothing is ever off the cards for me. I enjoy my work most when it has a demanding versatile approach. When you’ve made as many films as I have, you learn that sometimes you need to make things that your heart desires, filmmaking can’t just be about box office collections and working with the who’s who of the industry. I love my job because it has so many weird and wonderful sides to it. I’m not here for the success, that’s just a bonus; I’m here to entertain, to give, to teach, to learn, to express, to bring matters of need to attention, to take people through history, to make them laugh even if life isn’t funny for them right now. I don’t want to just be a money bucket, collecting rupees because I can, I want to make a difference, leave a mark and not a legacy.
However, isn’t it also a matter of phase that sees a turnaround every five years. For now it may seem like simplicity is in but tomorrow swag could be back as well, isn’t it?
I’ll tell you what, I’ll continue to be simple, because no one does swag better than Salman Khan right now (smiles)