He is the man who has backed 25-odd films in just the past 5 years, some of these being game-changers like Baby, OMG – Oh My God, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Queen, Kahaani, Special 26, Pyaar Ka Panchnama and Gangs of Wasseypur to name a few. Now with the company that he has founded, Abundantia Entertainment, he didn’t want to do anything lesser. Post Abundantia’s debut with Baby, he is bringing on Airlift and with this film, one again gets to see Akshay Kumar in a new avatar.
Over to Vikram Malhotra.
The film has Akshay Kumar as the leading man who is certainly having the time of his life by choosing varied genres. That makes Airlift further special, isn’t it?
I have been fortunate to have associated on some truly non-conventional and exciting films with Akshay since 2012, be it Special 26, OMG – Oh My God! or Baby. Akshay has redefined his career over the last few years. Also, he is probably the only actor in the industry who has displayed such high versatility in the recent years. The man can shock you with ability to tackle diverse work. His ability to work on varied subjects is much higher because he is at that cusp where he can easily essay characters of diverse backgrounds, ages and contexts.
That said, in Airlift he is not just a hero who is fighting a villain in particular, but instead is taking on circumstances.
Yes, villainy in Airlift does not come from an inidividual; it is the circumstances that Akshay’s character has been put up against, I am a firm believer in the thought that why must a hero always be seen in a conventional mode? Ranjit Katiyal (the character that Akshay plays in the film) is someone who triumphs with spirit and acumen rather than being the one who wins with his muscles. (Chuckles) Of course when his muscles need to do the talking, they do too!
While the film has a real setting to it, it has also been shot at a very lavish scale with shooting across continents. That makes Airlift interesting, right?
You know, whenever the word ‘lavish’ is used, it typically brings to mind extravaganza and a big budget. However, in Airlift it is the eye for detail coupled with genuine research and planning that have delivered the scale that people are talking about. Our director, writers, marketing folks and even Akshay have deeply and regularly engaged with actual survivors of the event and have gained tremendous insights that have gone into this film.
Can you please elaborate?
So, whether it is showing war-torn Kuwait, recreating Ranjit Katyal or recreating the evacuation, it is Raja’s eye for detail that has mattered. Raja Menon and our production designer have left no stones unturned to ensure the authenticity of the film. There has been considerable research done on what kind of ammunitions, weapons and tanks were sent to that area. All of that adds to the film’s scale and believability. The actors cast for various parts too are true to the characters; that ensemble is also very important.
All in all, right start for you and your company Abundantia Entertainment?
You can say that (smiles). After Baby, we had crossed a big threshold of conviction. I knew that in Airlift we have a film that has an opportunity of great storytelling and great commercial connect. I am told by many people that such subjects are dark horses or unlikely but we have enough experience and capability to handle such work and deliver superior creatives with resounding success. Also, all such choices involve a good amount of audience tracking and research. We base our choice of films to green-light and content to back based on what the story is and also, who the audience for such stories are.