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Interview Hindi

Gold sounded like a massive project with Akshay Kumar in it: Lakshya Kochhar

After assisting Milap Zaveri on Mastizaade (2016) and Shujaat Saudagar on Rock 2 (2016), Kochhar makes his acting debut in Reema Kagti's Gold.

Mayur Lookhar

Lakshya Kochhar, 25, began his career in the Hindi film industry as an assistant director to Milap Zaveri on Mastizaade (2016) and Shujaat Saudagar on Rock On 2 (2016).

Looks like the talented young man has now struck gold. He makes his acting debut in Gold, starring Akshay Kumar.

“Isn’t that cool,” says Kochhar. Hailing from Bhopal, Kochhar came to Mumbai for his education and graduated in commerce. He then went to the US for a course in filmmaking at the New York Film Academy and returned to India to pursue his dreams.

Reema Kagti's Gold, a period film, is based on independent India’s first Olympic gold medal in field hockey at the 1948 London Games.

A still from Gold

“I was really excited to meet Reema Kagti," Kochhar said. "It just sounded like a massive project with Akshay Kumar in it. The journey that this team took was very exciting, from being the underdogs to actually winning the gold medal. It was a very exciting concept on paper. I was sure somebody like Reema and Excel Entertainment [the producers] will bring it out on screen the way it is on paper.”

It is premature to talk about the film just yet, but Kochhar revealed that he portrays one of the hockey players from the 1948 team.

From Hrithik Roshan to Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan to Sidharth Malhotra, many celebrated names have begun their careers assisting acclaimed directors. Unlike the star kids, however, Kochhar applied for a job at Excel Entertaiment and was selected to assist Shujaat Saudagar. He bonded with Saudagar who then cast him in a few commercials.

What does an actor learn while assisting a director?

“Rock On 2 had Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Shraddha Kapoor. What I basically learnt from that film was to know the process of the actors really well. I worked closely with Farhan, I used to read dialogues with him, Arjun and Shraddha. That helped me know how these actors prepare for a scene. Also, technically, you get to learn a lot about lighting, camera. There is a lot of knowledge to gather which really helps you later... The basics remain the same. You are working on the same sets, it's just the position that gets changed. You get familiar with the environment when you assist,” Kochhar explained.

Madhya Pradesh has given us talents like Kartik Aaryan, who shot to fame with the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (2018). Actor Pankaj Tripathi comes from a small town in Bihar. This only underlines how talents are emerging from small towns as opposed to the usual metros. Kochhar, though, believes it is immaterial where you come from.

“Aaryan is an inspiration and so are the other names you took, but it's all about how you see yourself. It’s not about where you are coming from, but where you are going. It’s also about the vision you have about yourself, it’s also about how and what kind of people you meet in the journey. It’s about your inner confidence, how you see yourself. Small town, big town — they all are one once you come to the sets. The set is a big leveller,” he said.

To buttress his point, he said, “When you see a cricket match, you don’t say that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is from Ranchi. All of them are playing cricket. It’s the same when we are acting. Having said that, it's just that when you come from a small town, you need more confidence, self-assurance, because people will question you again and again. You need to stick to your ground, believe in yourself a bit more than people who come from the industry. If you are not intimidated, success will come to you.”

Though Kochhar could not talk much about Gold, he spoke fondly of Akshay Kumar and of being trained by the best.

“We were trained by Australian hockey legend Michael Nobbs [former coach to the Indian national hockey team] and there was our own Sandeep Singh, who has a film on him [Soorma] coming soon. Nobbs was with us when we were in Britain. He choreographed the whole movements. I didn’t find it much difficult for I was always into other sports. However, I had never played hockey before, but I managed it.” said Kochhar.

Akshay Kumar's character in the film is believed to be inspired by former Indian team manager AC Bannerjee. But Kochhar said the character has been fictionalized and the name changed.

Commenting on working with Akshay Kumar, the actor said, “He has spent lot of time filming. We shot for about a year. Usually, Akshay sir does many films [in this period], but he has given a lot of time for Gold. He is a disciplined man, but a fun-loving, chilled-out guy too. He is always up to something on the sets.

"He is so active that he never sits at one spot. We played cricket, or if nothing we would play catch-catch with bottles, sometimes we even threw stones. There were so many boys on the sets. He divided people into teams and played games. The first day when we met him, Akshay sir said we’ll make two teams, one of Indians the other of the foreign cast and crew. From the onset, he sent positive vibes."

While the makers launched an impressive teaser in February this year, Gold is set to be released on Independence Day (15 August).