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Akshay Kumar on National Award criticism: Have never called in a favour to bag movie or award

The actor said that in a situation where there are 200 movies to be accommodated in 52 weeks, clashes have become unavoidable.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

The decision to award Akshay Kumar the Best Actor National Award for Rustom has met with heavy criticism. While filmmaker Priyadarshan, who led a 38-member jury, has defended the jury decision, Akshay has finally opened up on the controversy.

Speaking to Mumbai Mirror tabloid, Akshay played down the controversy.

“I have completed 25 years in the film industry and I’ve never called in a favour to bag a movie or an award. As for Priyadarshan favouring me, I think he has answered that question in your newspaper,” Akshay told Mumbai Mirror.

In an interview to the same tabloid, Priyadarshan had defended the jury decision.

“Akshay Kumar deserved the award and we gave it to him. There were a total of 38 jury members with me on this. How can you question the decision of so many people? Ramesh Sippy headed the jury last year. When he gave Best Actor to Amitabh Bachchan for Piku why didn’t anyone question him?” Priydarshan had told the tabloid earlier.

The actor was also asked about his Independence Day week box office clash with his film Toilet – Ek Prem Katha set to lock horns with Imtiaz Ali’s film that stars Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma. Akshay refused to be drawn into the Shah Rukh v/s Akshay clash.

“My film is coming on August 11 because it's a big date and an opportune time. Besides, Independence Day, there is another holiday in the same week. Such long weekends can easily take two big releases. Ghayal and Dil clashed (in (1990), as did Gadar - Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan (in 2001),' said Akshay.

Akshay had clashed with Shah Rukh before in 2006 when his Jaan-E-Mann: Let's Fall in Love... Again lost the box office battle to SRK’s Don.  

“Chennai Express (2013) came on 8 August followed by Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara! a week later. The clash was averted by the producers, Ekta Kapoor and Shah Rukh. There is a growing tendency amongst superstars to own Republic Day, Independence Day, Eid, Diwali and Christmas weekends. I released Airlift on Republic Day last year and Rustom on Independence Day. Both films were successful but I still do not think I own these dates. As I said earlier, these are good weekends to cash in on, but they most certainly do not belong to me or any other actor," added the Rustom actor.

Akshay further added that these clashes should never get personal.

“Box office clashes are professional hazards and ideally they should not have any personal implications. In a situation where we have 200 movies to be accommodated in 52 weeks, clashes have become unavoidable," said Akshay.