The actor, whose first historical drama was released last week, says he would love to play another character from history, Sambhaji, someday.
Been 15 years late coming out of my comfort zone, says Akshay Kumar
Mumbai - 10 Jun 2022 15:22 IST
Akshay Kumar is candid and funny most times. The star had just recovered from another bout of COVID-19 when he met the press for an interaction ahead of last week's release of Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Samrat Prithviraj (2022) but looked fit as usual and began the session with a confession.
“I didn’t think I suited the role of Samrat Prithviraj,” Akshay Kumar said. “I was apprehensive about playing this character because when I saw pictures of him in books, I thought he was a stout person. But doctor saheb [director Dwivedi] explained that Samrat Prithviraj was quite athletic.
“He died at the age of 36 by when he had fought 18 wars. Each war used to last 20 or 25 days. Of course, someone who can fight wars like this cannot be a stout man. Then when I heard of our director’s research, I was convinced I would suit the part.”
Many others also said Akshay Kumar would not fit the role, but the director’s "in-depth research of 18 years" carried the day. Akshay Kumar had to learn swordsmanship for the film. He already knew how to ride a horse.
The film was shot in a short period — Akshay Kumar shot for only 42 days — and he credits the director’s preparation for that. “Mission Impossible (1996) is one of the world's biggest action films, but Tom Cruise shot for only 53 days because the homework was done," he pointed out. "The director did his homework and decided how much time he would need from the actor. I shot for 42 days and the film was completed in 100. He has not wasted any shot. Whatever I have shot for is there in the film.”
As one of Hindi cinema's top stars today, Akshay Kumar understands the importance of the box office. But he dislikes the divide between Southern cinema and the Hindi industry. “I hate it when someone says South industry and North industry," he said. "It’s one big industry. We should never divide ourselves. That was what the British did. They divided India. It’s high time we realize we are one industry. The term pan-India, meri samajh se baahar hai [it's beyond my understanding]. I hope every film runs.”
The artiste also said there was no reason to look askance at remakes. “If a story is good, why shouldn’t we remake it in Hindi?" he said. "So many of my films like OMG: Oh My God! (2012) and Special 26 (2013) have been remade in the South. Why shouldn’t we remake their films if the story is good? It does not mean we lack talent.”
Over three decades in the industry, Akshay Kumar has worked at his evolution as an actor. “In fact, I realized I have been 15 years late in my career to come out of my comfort zone of just doing action," he said. "It’s like a child who is used to having pizza. But you need to get them used to having vegetables and healthy food too. It’s difficult but you have to do it.
"When I did Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017), or Pad Man (2018), everyone was against it. Even when I did Airlift (2016), everyone opposed the title for it was in English. But you have to go by the gut and do what you have to do.”
Asked if there is another historical character that he would love to portray in the future, the actor responded, “I would like to play Maharaj Sambhaji.”