Where our Bollywood actors are making noise with their heroic and larger than life characters, here's one actor who is treading the path of an aam aadami. We are talking about the immensely talented Akshaye Khanna who is all set to play a frustrated disillusioned common man in director Rumi Jafri's upcoming film GALI GALI CHOR HAI. In conversation with the reticent actor.
Being a star how was it playing a common man in upcoming film GALI GALI CHOR HAI? Everybody is a common man. In the eyes of law, everybody is a common man whether it's a prime minister or a beggar on the street law is same for everyone. Everybody is affected by whatever happens in the country no matter how big or small you are, in a small or big way, directly or indirectly. This story is also about the system - the law of the land. Ours is a story of a common man who has no great resources but when someone like him gets stuck with the law, with police et al then how he deals with it and what happens is the film about. However it is told in a very funny, entertaining way. This is the story of every Indian. One will immediately connect with the story, character, with the situation in the film.
A common man has the power to awaken the society... Yes absolutely. There's a famous saying in English 'Never underestimate the power of one'. But our story is not about a character fighting the system or raising voice against the system. In fact he is so helpless that he is not able to do anything. We have shown the plight of a common man which can happen to anybody.
Veteran star Manoj Kumar earned the reputation of Mr. Bharat by playing the character in various films and now you are playing Mr. Bharat. So how different are the two Bharats? Manoj Kumar has so many great years of success playing Bharat. If the film does well and if the people like it then I'll be known as Mr. Bharat.
How GALI GALI CHOR HAI happened? Rumi is an old friend, Nitin is like a brother to me. They had this script and Rumi wanted me in this film. I heard the script we embarked the shoot in a month's time. It went smoothly and very fast. No matter what fate the film has, I am proud that I am part of it.
The content of the film looks quite relatable because of the on-going Anna Hazare thing? The issue is the same as both are talking about corruption, both are arguing to implement a law against corruption. But ours is a small film you cannot compare. Anna is a national movement; it's a very serious issue which they are talking about. It's a good thing today the whole media is focusing on corruption and Anna's movement. At the same time our film is also coming may be we'll get some benefit because it's topical today so people might show an interest in the film.
So it is working either ways. Either the movement is proving beneficial to the film or the film will add to the movement? I don't know. It's very difficult to predict what will happen in future.
We heard you wish to show GALI GALI CHOR HAI to Annaji? We would love to show him. If Annaji has time and if he would like to see then we will make him the first person to watch the film. It would be great honour for this film. We would love to hear and know his reactions what he thinks...
Films on social issues and patriotism interest you? Definitely I am hardcore patriot. But that doesn't mean I specifically go for only those films. As an actor I like doing varied roles. GALI GALI CHOR HAI is not a social film or it caters to patriotism. It's a comedy. It's a hardcore mainstream Bollywood film. There's no message, no lecturing, no preaching in the film. It's a pure entertaining film. If someone wants to take message out of it that's fine but our intention is only to entertain.
How is it that you always have meaningful roles to play irrespective of the film and its content? What do you look for while choosing a script? I don't look for anything. You hear something you react to it either positively or you don't react or react negatively. It's very instinctive and spontaneous. You hear something you like it or you don't like it. I loved AAKROSH but the film flopped. No producer puts money in a film thinking it a flop. No actor or director starts a film thinking it will be a disaster. Everybody wants to make a good film. Everybody is trying their best. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
Among the varied characters you have played which one is closest to you or which is more like you? The one which I have played in my upcoming film GALI GALI CHOR HAI.
Comedy and negative roles both suit you well but personally what you enjoy more? I have no preference. I like to go on sets, on locations and act that's my simple funda.
Are you a flexible person by nature? How is it that you are comfortable working with any camp or any actor or any director? I am not closed to working with anybody. But filmmaking is such a business where if you're with somebody you must have certain understanding and rapport. You spend 70-80-90 days with the team so it's important to share good professional understanding. One must work with everybody why should one restrict oneself to working with only few people? But eventually what happens is as one gets more experienced and older one tends to and wants to work with people whom they are already comfortable, already have a relationship. Over a period of time you want that comfort zone. Filmmaking is a journey so that journey must be enjoyable. You don't want to be sitting on the set with people you don't like, who you are uncomfortable with or with whom you don't share a similar understanding. CHECK OUT: GALI GALI MEIN CHOR HAI shooting from 2nd Sept '11
You rely too much on a director? Do you check with a filmmaker's sensibilities before signing a film? Definitely you have sit with each other and understand. Nine times out of ten I do that. Moreover they also will not come up with something that is not upto the mark.
What do you have to say about Rumi? He has the ability to connect with the audience and that is the USP of the film. Everyone will be able to relate to the character, to the story.
We have only seen you playing guy-next door characters. How about doing a quintessential larger than life hero which has become a trend in Bollywood these days? The moment I get any such script I would love to do. It's also something different and I have not done it in my career.
You have created an unique niche for yourself by playing unconventional hero in commercial Hindi cinema. These are all media created. I don't do anything deliberately to create an image. Every actor finds his own place, his own level.
So are you happy with that space? Yes of course. I am very happy.
Sometimes films leave a mark on one's life. Has GALI GALI CHOR HAI inspired you in some way? No film leaves a mark on my personal life. There's no seriousness it's a light, entertaining, funny, hysterical comedy. It's just the serious background which is making it look like one. I don't want to project this film as a serious film. Having said that, it is a highly intelligent film. It's a very rare combination where you get the script which is hilarious, which is topical and which has depth and that is what sets GALI GALI CHOR HAI aside from other films. I believe people are sensing from the promos, from the poster that entertainment hai, comedy hai but there's a certain depth to it.
You maintained a clean image throughout and never got embroiled in any of media scandals... That's because I am a very good boy (laughs).