Akshay Kumar: full throttle ahead
After a full year behind him, 2004 looks like another year of extreme activity for Akshay Kumar.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
He has just wrapped up work for two huge,
totally antithetical films "Bewafaa" and "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi", and is now trying to complete work on a third film "Aan: Men At Work", which has taken longer than expected.
"Both Dharamesh Darshan's 'Bewafaa' and Madhur Bhandarkar's 'Aan' took up a lot of my dates. But in the end, it's been worth it. The two films have really shaped up well. Though they both have a huge cast I'm very proud of my role and confident of making an impact. Didn't I stand out in 'Khakee'?" he asks.
"Khakee", in fact has proved to be a turning point in Akshay's career.
"I agree. I'd say Suneel Darshan's 'Jaanwar' at the end of 1999 was one turning point. That's when I was taken seriously as an actor for the first time.
"Now after 'Khakee' critics say I can hold my own in spite of a formidable cast. That feels good. I worked hard on my character of a cop in 'Khakee'.
But it was my director Raj Santoshi who must be given all the credit for making my character so complete."
Now after "Khakee", Akshay will be seen as a cop in two more movie roles in the next three months. "I play a cop in 'Police Force' and 'Aan'. But they're very different from each other and from 'Khakee'.
"Apart from the colour of my uniform, there's no similarity among the three films. That's quite a change from my pre-'Jaanwar' days when I used to have a cop's uniform hanging constantly in my make-up van. I played a cop in innumerable films then, all a blur in my mind now.
"Playing a cop in 'Khakee', 'Police Force' and 'Aan' and playing the same role in my earlier films were two entirely different experiences for me, as I'm sure they are for the audience."
With his newly found reputation as a dependable actor, many trade-wallahs call him the new-millennium Dharmendra.
"I couldn't hope for a bigger compliment. I've always been a huge fan of Dharamji. And if today I'm being compared with him then, what can I say? My dreams are all coming true one by one, touchwood."
Right now there are many dream roles for Akshay's audience to look forward to.
"After 'Dhadkan' I found Dharamesh Darshan to be one of the most fascinating directors. Although 'Bewafaa' has many terrific actors like Anil Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Kareena Kapoor and Sushmita Sen, believe me I'm very happy with my role.
"Again I enjoyed doing David Dhawan's 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi' where my co-star is Salman Khan. I had heard so many things about him. But he turned out to be a cool guy. We really hit it off and had ourselves a ball on the sets."
Akshay says he truly enjoyed doing a comedy.
"Priyadarshan's 'Hera Pheri' is one of the favourite films I've done. Before that another comedy I enjoyed doing was David Dhawan's 'Mr & Mrs Khiladi', though that wasn't as successful as 'Hera Pheri'.
"Comedies are great fun. What better gift to one's fans than the gift of laughter? If I had my way I'd do at least one each year. In fact producer Feroz Nadiadwala is planning a sequel to 'Hera Pheri'. And I'm already chuckling."
The movie market has been abuzz with rumours about a fallout between Akshay and his mentor Suneel Darshan who not only fashioned Akshay's career turn-around in "Jaanwar" but also cast him in last year's mega-hit "Andaaz".
"What fallout? I can never have any differences with Suneel. He's like my elder brother. Because of a jam-packed date diary there was bit of problem adjusting my dates for his new film. But now it's all worked out. I'm doing Suneel's new film 'Barsaat'. It's a romantic musical triangle."
Everything seems to be falling into place for Akshay with remarkable ease.
Son Aarav, now a strapping year-old lad, spends as much time with papa as possible.
Akshay glows with parental pride.
"Aarav and I do a lot of things together. He's as sporty as I am, loves the water. When Aarav, my wife Twinkle and I were together in Mauritius recently for 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi', Aarav was quite a beach baby... He brings my lunch to the set whenever I'm in Mumbai. In fact he should be here any moment."
Akshay's eyes scan the crowded set for the one visual that gives him the biggest high. And it isn't the box-office figures in trade magazines.