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Akshay Kumar: Nothing happens if you don’t get any award

In an interview to Cinestaan, Kumar speaks at length about Jolly LLB 2, the change in audience's taste in recent years and the recent award controversy. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Keyur Seta

There was a lot of buzz on social media recently when Akshay Kumar and his films were ignored by an important awards show. The Khiladi gets candid with Cinestaan.com on the issue and speaks at length about Jolly LLB 2, his next release. He also throws light on how content has taken the front seat when it comes to entertaining the audience. 

How was your experience of shooting Jolly LLB 2?
First of all, any film you finish in about 3-4 months, your experience automatically turns out to be good because you are living that character for a little while. After some time, it starts getting boring; even while playing the best of characters. So, I prefer to finish my films in a three-month span. Working with Subhash Kapoor was excellent. The character was very different. I was playing a lawyer for the first time. I practically enjoyed it. To play a lawyer and crack cases was a great experience. I started shooting for the film a day after Rustom (2016) released. And today I am sitting with you guys finishing my interviews.

From the trailers, it seems like Jolly LLB 2 is quite different from the first film and there are various other aspects. It is not just a courtroom drama... 
Look, a courtroom drama doesn’t mean the entire film is based in court. Even in real life, the story also goes outside the court. Like what exactly happened, how it happened and who is trying to subjugate the witness. So, the story belongs outside the court as much as it belongs inside. This happens in every case. 

You are playing a lawyer for the first time. What preparations did you do for that?
I didn’t do any kind of preparations. My director prepares more than me. I won’t be able to compete with my director’s preparation because he is just doing one film a year and I am doing more films than him. So, it is much better and intelligent. He has all kinds of cases, files and all moments that he wants to include. He knows what the courts look like and what kind of language is used. Bohat smart ban ne ki koshish mat karo (Don't try to be too smart). Do what you are told and make sure you excel in that. This is the only preparation I did.

There are people who don’t have faith in our judicial system due to many issues. After playing a lawyer, has your faith in the judiciary increased?
Who says people don’t have trust in judiciary? I am sure tomorrow, God forbid, if you face any such problem, where will you go? Obviously to the court. If you have a fight with someone, you will tell him/her, “I will see you in court.” Actually the problem lies with only one thing – the time taken to solve a case. It goes through eight, twelve, thirteen years. But even what can they do? They are giving their level best. 

Maths says that there are 3.5-4 crore cases pending because there are only 21 thousand judges. Journalists make an entire newspaper ready in just one day. And there are so many people working for it. That gives you so much of strength. Imagine how many cases they have to deal with every day. They have to read files after files trying to know if one is right or the other is wrong. Plus, the need to make sure they don’t give a wrong decision. While playing the judge in our film, there was so much stress in Saurabh Shukla. So imagine what a real judge has to go through. Hats off to our judiciary. They are taking time but they have no other choice. 

You recently shared a video on social media where you said there should be an app to donate money to our martyred soldiers. Can you tell us more about it?
It was just a very nice idea. I thought of it few days back and I love talking. This is one place nobody can twist your words. What you say will be direct to the audience. This also means even I can’t back out. I thought there would be a lot of people who would like to help army people but they won’t know how. I do it because I know army people. But it becomes very difficult for a common person. A friend of mine from Matunga pointed this recently. This is how it struck me. We are in a digital world. We can easily donate a thousand rupees. At least we owe them this much. And government helps them. So, at least they are secured. The guy is carrying a gun fighting the enemy. He should know that if something happens to him, 1.25 billion people are standing with him. You know how much inner strength will he get due to this? This can only be done with the help of the government and army. 

Have you spoken with the government regarding this?
No, I have just put this (video) up.  

Social media seems to have helped celebrities a lot.
It has actually helped. A lot of times when something is written about us, people think there is jealousy or I have eaten into other person’s role. So, now you can fix it up. Actually it doesn’t happen so much. It does somewhat. When there was no social media, I was accused of editing my co-stars' roles. Imagine, I have the power to enter the director’s editing room, put him aside, cut people’s roles and he will quietly sit down and say, ‘Okay he has cut his role. Now release it this way.’ How can you do that? Such stories floated in quite a few of my films with Priyadarshan. He once got angry at a journalist who said Akshay cuts people roles. He said, ‘Am I a fool?’ He got so upset with it. 

Last year you did films that were acclaimed. But your films were ignored in various awards. Your fans were continuously protesting against this on social media. 
Maybe because I don’t deserve it (award) because there are various people who have done much better. So, they got it and they deserved it more. 

You don’t believe in awards?
No, awards are good. 

Kareena Kapoor recently said on Koffee With Karan that you told her that one should believe in rewards and not awards.
Did she say that? I thought it was a secret. I told her never to say about it. I need to have a word with her. I just said, just keep on working and don’t think so much (about awards). Nothing happens if you don’t get any award. Just keep on thinking that if you got a reward, carry on. 

You were earlier tagged as an action hero, then a comic actor and now you are doing different genres. How has been your journey on the personal front?
Yes, when I started my career, for about 8-10 years I just kept on doing action for every day of my life. Nobody would consider me for a role besides action. That got to me. And it was an experience I learnt. You cannot stick to one image. You yourself will start getting bored. I still remember one day when I got into the lift and saw the mirror which kept on saying, ‘Wohi karne jayega abhi tu? Two kicks, three punches, four times you would fall and then come home.’ This doesn’t mean the mirror actually started talking to me. I thought I have to do something different. Then I spoke with Priyadarshan sir. He gave me this opportunity (Hera Pheri). He believed that I could do comedy. Trust me, I was not sure about it because comedy is very hard. He taught me a lot. Later Rajkumar Santoshi ji and Neeraj Vora too. 

Your films Airlift and Rustom did better business than Housefull 3. Do you think people nowadays prefer content above everything else?
This is very true. Content has started taking over. People don’t want to put their Rs150-250 on a film without content. They want to be very happy that they got to see some story. It is no more like, ‘Ek raja tha, ek rani thi, khatam ho gayi kahani.’ There has to be a twist in Raja, there should a twist if Rani is having an affair somewhere. 

These days, two hero projects aren’t coming out. There is a buzz that two big actors aren’t willing to work together because of insecurities. 
I have done a film where there were seven heroes – Jaani Dushman (2002). I hope you have seen it. Kohli sahab (Rajkumar Kohli) has stopped making movies. If there is an offer for me, I would love to do. Actually I am considering one. I don’t care even if it is a three hero film. It will be good as I would have to work that much less.