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Akshay and John are [Desi Boyz] at heart

November 23, 2011

In this free-wheeling interview at his sprawling office by the beach over cups of green tea, Akshay Kumar bares his heart and talks to JYOTHI VENKATESH about his films like Desi Boyz and Khiladi 786, his leading lady Chitrangda, David Dhawan’s son Rohit Dhawan as a director and unfolds his plan to do action films for the next five years.

What is your role in Desi Boyz?

I play the role of a Gujarati boy called Jerry Patel in Desi Boyz. What is interesting to note is the fact that Jerry’s actual name is Jignesh Patel and he has made it a point to change his name to sound like an American as people who migrate from India to USA often do.

Is Desi Boyz an out and out comedy?

I’d say that Desi Boyz is the true story of two boys-one an Indian and another a Pakistani national who are good banker friends who were hit by the recession wave in 2008 and were affected like every one else and even lost their jobs. In order to earn their livelihood, eventually become male escorts. Desi Boyz has been inspired by the story of these two friends though both John and I play Indian desi boys in the film.

Since both of you play the role of male escorts, is it a sleazy film?

Desi Boyz is in no way a sleazy film. We are seen as male escorts in only 10 to 15 minutes in the entire film. It is an emotional film woven around friendship. It is a two hour and two minutes long happy go and feel good chilled out film right from the word go.

How easy or tough was it for you to get into the skin of the character of the male escort?

I’d not hesitate to state that there is not much difference between a male escort and an actor, because like the male escorts, we actors also fulfill people’s fantasies. In fact though we are known as actors in English, we call ourselves bhands in Hindi. All that I had to learn to get into the character of my skin as a male escort was to learn pole dancing in London for six days as part of the preparation for the role.

To what extent are you desi at heart?

I am Rajeev at home even though I am Akshay Kumar outside my house even today. I have not forgotten my roots. I am fully desi at heart. I am of the opinion that maa baap ke seedhe ladle ladke do not leave their roots. Even today I live with my mother and though it is considered to be cool quotient to talk in hi- fi English, I do not believe in it and like to talk in Hindi whenever and wherever it is possible.

Have you started talking in Hindi only because you want to promote Desi Boyz?

I really feel from my heart that we should talk in Hindi because Hindi is our national language and we are working in Hindi films. In fact, I’d not hesitate to salute Katrina Kaif for talking in Hindi even though it is not at all her mother tongue. As far as promotion of Desi Boyz is concerned, I write on Desi Boyz on tweeter every day.

In what way is Rohit Dhawan, son of David Dhawan different from David?

David Dhawan goes according to the rule and waits for the actors to tell them their scenes and asks them to enact the scenes and keeps the camera according their performances whereas Rohit Dhawan goes by the book and places the camera and then asks his actors to act. There is a world of difference between the working styles of both the father and the son.

Can you elucidate?

Rohit is only 27 years old but is very confident. It is not at all easy to direct stars like Sanjay Dutt on the first day. The difference between David and Rohit is that David is fun loving but Rohit is a little bit serious. If the film Desi Boyz runs in a big way, I’d give the entire credit to only Rohit. I know Rohit ever since he was a tiny boy when I used to work with David Dhawan. Rohit has made a breezy film and I’d say that each scene in the film will make you’d feel that Rohit had felt the same while in college. There is no slap stick kind of comedy in the film and there is no scene of any person falling down over kele ka chilka.

How did you have the confidence to come on board when Rohit decided to turn a director?

Rohit was actually slated to make a film called Come On Pappu with me and a chimpanzee but some how the script did not turn out to be as exciting as we thought that it would and eventually were ended up changing the original script and opted for the script of Desi Boyz and in the process, replaced the chimpanzee with John Abraham instead. (Laughs)

How would you rate John as a co-star?

It is my second film with John after Garam Masala which I had done with him six years ago.I found a lot of difference between the John Abraham of Garam Masala and the john Abraham of Desi Boyz. Like his muscles, his comedy sense of timing also has increased tremendously. Though he is one of the best looking boys in the film industry, what I like about him is that he dopes laid back comedy effortlessly, in the sense his way of delivering dialogues in comedy is effortless. He is like Bean who is subtle and not like Charlie Chapin who was loud and I always tell him that I have to learn his way of laid back comedy as an actor.

How was Chitrangda Singh as your co-actress?

Chitrangda is a dusky looking desi girl who reminds you instantly of the late Smita Patil. It is her first commercial film though she has to her credit quite a few offbeat art films like Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi , Sorry Bhai, Kal and Yeh Saali Zindagi.I remember the first day when we were shooting, Chitrangda was quite petrified when there was a crowd of around 350 people thronging on the location and since she had never come across a situation like I had to make her comfortable by escorting her out of the crowds whereas Deepika Padukone  was quite confident of herself and managed to be at ease in front of the crowds .

What next after Desi Boyz?

I am now all set to act in action films like Prabhu Deva’s Rowdy Rathore produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rohit Shetty’s assistant Ashish R Mohan’s film Khiladi 786 Made In Punjab produced jointly by my own banner Hari Om Pictures and Himesh Reshammiya’s H. R Muzik and presented by Eros International. It is twelve years since I did an action film. For a long time, I have really not acted in any action film. My son is now 10 years old. He likes to watch action films and is also learning karate. For the next five years at least, I’d love to do action films. I am now 45 years old and after I turn 50, I do not think I can continue to do action packed films.

Are you doing a 20 minute cameo in Khiladi 786 Made in Punjab?

Though I am the producer of the film, I have heard reports in the media that I have been paid a sum of Rs 20 cro0res for acting in the film. I have also heard that I am doing just a cameo in the film. Damn it Man, it is an action comedy and I am playing the title role in it. Why should I do a cameo role in my own film?

Why are you now veering towards negative roles after doing comedy roles?

With Rowdy Rathore, which is a remake of a South Indian hit and Once Upon A Time In Mumbai sequel for Ekta Kapoor, I want to try my hand after a long time at negative roles. I do not think my fan following will decrease if I do negative roles. Are you aware that the fan following of both John Abraham and Hrithik Roshan tripled after they did negative roles in Dhoom? We used to have a wrong perception about an actor who plays a negative role. Ranjeet has played the rapist in many films but do you know that he is a seedha saadha guy who is actually a vegetarian? I have always been a naughty person on the sets and like to play pranks on my unsuspecting co-actors, because I feel that if you do not do masti, you will end up getting bored on the sets and also make every one bored of you, though there are actors who like to maintain their distances and do not do masti at all on the sets while shooting.

How do you manage to get time to spend with your family amidst your hectic schedule?

I do not work at all on Sundays and on Saturdays I work from 7 am to 2 pm, because I  like to spend time with my family. We love going to swim. My son likes trekking and hence we go to Gorai or Bhayander, where there is a mountain called Mama Bhanja near Pokhran. We play volleyball too. I also cook on Sundays at home.

Shah Rukh Khan has said that he had set out to make Ra One for his son. Would you also make a film for your son?

I did the voice over for films like Transformers, Jumbo etc because my son wanted me to dub for them but I would not lie to make a film for him, because lets face facts film making is a business which involves crores of rupees. In any case, my son likes to watch only cartoons like Tom & jerry and does not like to watch even my own film.

What is your take on relationships?

I have always believed that you should be very honest as far as your relationships are concerned and give it a lot of time to nurture it, though it does not take time to break any relationship

Which has been your high point and low point this year?

I have seen so many low points as far as my career is concerned, that honestly my low points too have been my high points but I have not let any of my low point affect me at all.

How would you evaluate your growth over the years as an actor?

It is 21 years since I had made my debut with Pramod Chakraborty’s Deedar opposite Karisma Kapoor. I have grown by leaps and bounds not only age but also experience as well as bank accounts. My family also has grown and the number of films I have done also has grown by leaps and bounds but people know me right from the beginning like you do can vouchsafe for the fact that I am still the same old Rajiv Bhatia.

 Jyothi Venkatesh

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