Akki breaky heart: Akshay Kumar on friendship, fame and fortune
The khiladi actor Akshay Kumar has been quite busy of late. He has been travelling in and out of Mumbai for film shoots and other engagements. Earlier in May this year, Akshay was at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive his first National Award for Rustom. A few days after the awards ceremony, he tweeted a photo of himself with the Prime Minister; apparently, Akki was talking about his upcoming film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha with PM Modi. Later in May, the actor was in Bengaluru for the India Style Luxury Week, and walked the ramp for designer Ramesh Dembla. Akki looked dapper in a three-piece suit and even flexed his muscles with a nunchaku, while front-row fashionistas swooned at his style and swag. In an exclusive chat with Indulge, the actor opened up about certain people and things in his life, which rarely make it to the news.
It has been 26 years since your debut. With over 100 films and a National Award, how does it feel?
I still feel the rush and excitement that I did 26 years back when I stepped onto a film set. Isn’t that what it’s all about? I do more of what I love. And being appreciated for it, that too something as prestigious as the National Award, is like a cherry on the cake. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Your career can be divided into three phases — action/suspense, comedy, and films with a patriotic message. Was it all planned, particularly the films with a message for the masses?
Like most things in my career, I’d like to say it’s sheer good luck. I’ve been fortunate that these scripts came, and hopefully continue to come my way. These are stories that I’d like to be a part of not just as an actor, but even as the audience that watches these films. Some of these stories are a part of our country’s glorious history, long forgotten in textbooks or newspapers, and what better way to revive them than on celluloid.
Tell us about the India Luxury Style Week and your association with the designer Ramesh Dembla.
Ramesh and I have known each other since 1990 — that makes it 27 years of friendship, which only grows strong with every passing day. Not many people know, but Ramesh’s father financed my first film Saugandh. I was shooting in Bengaluru for one of my earlier movies and Ramesh’s dad was producing that film. I used to stay with them and spent a lot of time with their family. That’s how we got to know each other, and we instantly bonded. I remember going for early morning walks with Ramesh. Being a Punjabi, I loved his mum’s food and would relish all the special delicacies. We used to hit the gym, work out together and chill out. I never partied even then, so we just hung around like two friends normally would. I guess there is truth in the saying, ‘If a friendship lasts longer than seven years, psychologists say it will last a lifetime’. When Ramesh mentioned that there is no exclusive fashion platform for men, I was amazed to hear that. There have been so many fashion weeks for women, and there is a need for men to catch up. I thought India Luxury Style Week was a great idea. I trust Ramesh’s vision and I have always believed in him, and I can never tell him no for an answer. I could also foresee that this would be one of the turning points in the Indian fashion industry and therefore, I agreed to be the brand ambassador for ILSW.
What’s your personal style statement? What are you most comfortable in?
My personal style statement is very casual and relaxed. I think I’m most comfortable in tracks and a T-shirt, and that’s what you’d see me in on a regular basis. When out partying, which isn’t often, I’m simply dressed in formal trousers and a shirt with more emphasis on my footwear. I have a fetish for shoes. I think I own more pairs of shoes than my wife.
What do you have to say about the emerging fashion segment dedicated to men?
For long, we have had this notion that fashion isn’t for men, grooming isn’t for men. But not anymore. Women have been the torchbearers of fashion for long, but I think that men’s fashion is now becoming equally important and I am happy about that. We have exclusive designers for menswear now, an exclusive fashion week for men, and magazines for men. We should encourage more platforms because everybody should dress well, be fit, exercise and look good. Grooming too is an essential part of being stylish. Style does not come with clothes alone. Be it man or a woman, being well-groomed is important. It says a lot about you as a person and everything said and done, it matters in terms of an overall impression. I believe in eating right, being fit, taking care of personal hygiene, carrying yourself well and of course, dressing right. If you cannot take a little time off your 24-hour-schedule to work on your body, and to groom it, then you are disrespecting it.
Who’s your favourite style icon?
In my growing years, Mithun Chakraborty was a rage and people would go crazy with all his blingy clothes and inimitable style.
Your favourite designers?
I like D&G, Armani, Tom Ford — these are classic evergreen brands.
We can never catch you dead in a...
I think you would never catch me alive or rather awake at a party post-midnight.
Do you wake up in shorts/tracks?
Pyjamas… I have quite a few sets of pinstripe pyjamas that I love to sleep in.