AIRLIFT : Nimrat Kaur on making her space in Bollywood, Akshay Kumar's infectious energy and awe for Amitabh Bachchan
Seated in a sea-facing suite at Mariott, the radiant Nimrat Kaur appears beaming with confidence and optimism. The 33 year old daughter of the Indian army officer - Major Bhupender Singh, who got killed by the militants in the valley, is against getting pigeon holed as an actress in a certain domain.
After the wonderfully striking debut in LUNCH BOX and the acclaim in popular US TV drama HOMELAND, Kaur will be seen as Akshay Kumar's wife in upcoming AIRLIFT, a film based on a true story.
In a candid conversation, the actress shares on making her space in Bollywood, how will she survive the push and pull of artistic satisfaction and commercial requirement in her career as an actress, her fetish for Akshay Kumar’s infectious energy and her awe for Amitabh Bachchan.
Your sparkling debut in THE LUNCHBOX hailed you as an actress from a different mould. How does a mainstream film like AIRLIFT fulfills your instincts as an actor?
AIRLIFT is not a commercial potboiler. It’s based on a real life incident. Yes, it’s different from my previous outings like THE LUNCHBOX which was a very quaint film and it was made very silently, nobody knew about it when it was being made and AIRLIFT was in news since its announcement, it is on a bigger canvas, scale and has Akshay’s attachment to it. I essay the role of Amrita Katyal - wife of Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar), she leads a rich, flamboyant life but at the same time has a longing towards her nation. She is outspoken and believes that her husband is a shrewd businessman who will never do a thing that will not benefit him. The movie begins with the morning of 2nd of August 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Amrita is unable to understand what is Ranjit trying to do and when she comes to know about the operation; she becomes his strength like a true Indian wife.
What where the preparations you did for the role. Did you meet any one of survivors of the incident, spoke to any one of them?
No, I didn’t meet any survivors. The material we had with the script was enough. Yes I read a lot about the incident online, to get the grip of the seriousness of the situation. Writer and director Raja Krishna Menon has doe his research and some of his relatives where stuck at that time. I really didn’t know about this incident and surprisingly it’s the biggest human evacuation and still not many of us know. I wanted to look like a Middle Eastern women so I got my haired colored n that typical way the high society Middle Eastern women color their hair, just to blend with the look and feel. This is the physical transformation I went through for the film.
You choose AIRLIFT after going through 25 scripts.. was your patriotism backed by your father’s martyrdom give the motivation to say yes or was it the opportunity to work with Akshay Kumar?
I am born in an Army family. I have seen my father in Army parades and watched him in his army uniform. So I am a proud Indian and a patriotic as any Indian should be but that has nothing to do in me doing the film. AIRLIFT is not about Army, it’s about a real life incident, a good story that needs to be told and of course am lucky to work with a star like Akshay Kumar.
Your experience on working with Akshay Kumar?
I was shy before meeting him. I was looking forward to work with him, He has being in the industry for the last 25 years and I am doing my second film with him. So obviously I was a bit shy. But there is a certain belief in you which says you will pull it off and hold your ground. Being the being the person he is, all of this turned out to be just a notion.
Have you being lucky enough to get fitness tips from Akshay as well?
He doesn’t roll out those fitness tips. But yes I wanted to know something which makes him so fit and his ability to carry the look.
What tips he give ?
Cutting down on your last meal. Don’t eat after 7:30 p.m. Keep it light, makes a difference. I hope I continue to follow that.
Will the success of AIRLIFT motivate you to do more mainstream/commercial cinema.. How will you maintain the balance?
Nobody wants to do the same thing again and again. Am fortunate to get a movie on such a big scale as my second film. For a person from the independent cinema background it’s a big thing. But I will never do a film just to reach out to maximum people. A movie which I am interested in acting should also be the one which I intend to watch as an audience. AIRLIFT is one of them.
Commercial/mainstream cinema starring superstars are male centric. What space as an actress do you see in such a scenario?
It depends on the reason why you are on the sets. For me every outing on the sets is an experience, be it short films, ad films, theatre, independent films etc. Sometimes a particular scene makes an impact. For example Irrfan Khan in THE NAMESAKE, Irrfan had few scenes in the film but for me the movie belongs to Irrfan Khan. Yes AIRLIFT is a male centric story. Completely based on Akshay Kumar but I feel proud to be associated and sharing the screen space. It has given me the space as an actor.
Your understanding/.experience with Irrfan Khan and Akshay Kumar?
Unfortunately I didn,t get a chance to shoot with Irrfan in THE LUNCHBOX we got along well during the promotions and I found Irrfan to be a wonderful person. So rich as an actor. The way he emotes with his eyes and gets into the skin of the character is truly amazing. Has great sense of humour.
Akshay Kumar’s energy is infectious. It has being a great pleasure working with him. He has great work ethics. Always on time, very upbeat on sets. Got so much to learn from him on how to be a multitasker. Akshay is all sunshine.
Waheeda Rehman ji. She is such an endearing personality. Rekha is such a divine beauty.
Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Hands down. no one else. Completely awed by Mr. Bachchan right from beginning. Was totally flabbergasted when I met him for the first time.