100 plus films, over 20 years in the business, a consistent success rate, a stable position amongst the top superstars and the only one to be releasing three to four films at an average every year – No wonder, Akshay Kumar has chartered a unique path for himself where he is driving the show merrily. His Baby stays on to be the only major grosser that Bollywood has seen this year and now he is ready to release his Gabbar Is Back this Friday. In this exclusive conversation, the actor bares his heart about picking up the mantle against corruption and still ensuring that the entertainment quotient for audience stays on.
The film features you in two different looks. How was that devised? I am particularly impressed with your bearded look; it has never been seen before!
(Laughs) This is my most luscious beard on screen till date, probably the manliest I’ve ever been at liberty to look! In fact I don’t remember ever being quite as comfortable as I was during this shoot – no daily shaving, windblown hair and baggy hoodys to fight in. I was in actor heaven throughout, until they made me shave my beard. This is when I genuinely felt facially naked for a few days, but it was necessary as I was a good boy when I was married. The beard comes into the picture when the beast comes out in me (winks).
Even your body language, facial expressions, dialogue delivery and mannerisms are totally unique to the film. As an actor, did it just come easily or you had to mentally condition yourself for that?
I just absolutely played the inner demon in me, I didn’t hold back. I think whatever I’ve ever felt about what happens to people less fortunate than me and the struggles they face on a daily basis – pure revenge just boiled up and came out in the meanest greenest way possible. I may have been blessed with no-one ever trying to mess with me over the years but unfortunately others and what they go through is just painful to witness. I know people close to me who couldn’t even get admitted into a hospital when they were in a life and death situation; they were refused through the bloody doors! But if it had been myself in that situation, I know I would have been admitted and most likely pampered till I returned to full health. This is wrong on so many levels.
So what did you do?
Thankfully I came running and got my friend admitted at another hospital before the worst could happen, but not everyone has me as a friend. When will our society realize all humans are equal, every single person’s life is just as important as the next. Yet, we allow bribery, corruption, and death and let it come in the way of what’s right. Where’s the justice in that?Gabbar takes a stand for his people and that’s what makes him golden; he risks his own life in the hope of helping others. There’s no greater connection to the people, than standing up for what’s right for them. This is why I hope every single Indian enjoys this. Gabbar is Backwas made for them and for them only!
Coming to the core of the film, it makes a statement against anti-corruption. Was that the single most factor that made you give your consent to the film?
No no, much more!! There’s a differentiation from an Anti-Corruption film that’s just about listening to a bunch of people going on and on about it. The love that I have for this film is the way in which circumstances are dealt with. This is about sheer force of a man’s instinct to fight in a manner that puts the fear into those that dare steal from the innocent to feed their rich appetites. This goes beyond cheating the public, this is about giving our nation a bad name. Well, not anymore! This film is to inspire, but not to influence, please let me make this clear. Do not try any of these happenings at home, this is not an excuse for others to take the law into their own hands, but just to be aware of when you might be being fleeced.
Were you surprised though when told that while you are playing a positive vigilante in the film, your character would be termed Gabbar, which is the greatest Bollywood villain of all times?
I know, my producers love to put pressure on me, don’t they (smiles). As scary and intimidating as it is and knowing the amount of opinions that are going to be thrown in my direction, it is neither here nor there. At the end of the day, my way of acting comes from my heart, it’s not calculative. It’s not to make me look stunning or handsome. I play characters, I portray my director’s vision as much as I humanly can. If people think less of my Gabbar toSholay‘s Gabbar, I will always understand, but at the same time I will always walk away knowing I was genuine, I tried hard and I put my people first, not my status.