Akshay Kumar on 2.0: Playing a villain is better than me playing a hero that no one cares about
Akshay Kumar’s character in S Shankar’s 2.0 can turn into a crow at will. Spicing it up further, the 51-year-old actor makes his Tamil debut in a never-seen-before avatar of an evil scientist, with bloodshot eyes, fangs and a bald patch with white hair. With a budget of over `500 crores, the Enthiran (2010) sequel is touted to be India’s biggest film. While Rajinikanth reprises his role as Chitti, the robot in the movie, Akshay Kumar, who plays the antagonist, says his role carries a message that can change the future. “I’m just a small fish in a big pond, who was given a villain’s role that he couldn’t have dreamed of in a million years,” says the Mumbai-based actor, while adding that he couldn’t imagine a bigger dream project that this movie.
Rajinikanth said that you are the real hero of 2.0...
He is only saying that because he’s the most incredibly humble actor in all of India. What do I say when the greatest superstar of all time gives you a compliment like that? I keep folding my hands, telling him, ‘No sir, the world is coming to see you.’ I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have been considered for such a role opposite Rajinikanth. Shankar sir is truly the man that makes everyone’s dreams come true.
At any point, were you apprehensive of taking up the role in 2.0?
There were never any doubts. I had to pinch myself because I was so excited to play the villian. One of the only awards I ever received was for a negative role. Playing the anti-hero doesn’t scare me, playing a hero that no one cares about is far scarier.
What are your thoughts on this new wave of mega movies?
2.0 is the only mega-movie that I have ever been part of. No budget of mine has even reached a third of the scale of this movie. For me, it’s never about the scale, it’s about the content. It could be the smallest budgeted film with the biggest of heart and I would give my all to make it proud. But 2.0 is in another league. I have never seen so much money, talent and technology come together from across the globe to make an Indian film of this magnitude. Sometimes, the audience needs something big like this to bring back the excitement that only going to a cinema can give you, instead of staying inside and watch a web series, which has become the popular trend nowadays.
Your movies Padman and Toilet Ek Prem Katha opened to immense responses. How important is it to make movies with a social message?
In many parts of the world, these stories are extremely important. They’ve changed lives only for the better. Sanitation awareness—be it toilets or pads, are a huge necessity. Our country needs to have someone with a voice to stand up for basic human rights and spread the message on the importance of hygiene. There is no point in being an actor who doesn’t use his platform to better the country that made them famous in the first place.
You recently wrapped the shooting for Housefull 4. What according to you is the secret behind a successful franchise?
The cast, the dialogues, the songs and the energy everyone brings to the table is important. When you have a group of actors, everyone needs to come together as a team. No one can have a bad day and if they are, it’s up to all of us to bring them back to our madness, because teamwork makes the dream work. (laughs)
What would be your advice to the struggling actors?
Be as versatile as possible when you debut. Don’t just be a boy with sixpack abs or a dude that can kick but can’t act, or romance or dance. Be a jack of all trades. Don’t think you need to master only one thing. Practice them all and master your favorite later. The key to being a producer’s actor and a director’s dream is that they should have confidence in you regardless of the genre. Never curb yourself otherwise people will see you one way and one way only.
Is it a conscious decision to limit yourself to three movies a year?
I don’t think I’m limiting myself at all. If I were, I’d only be making one film a year, I aim to make three to four movies annually for as long as I have the stamina and the audience to perform for. The only conscious decision I’m working on is the substance of my scripts. I may be releasing the biggest 3D spectacle of the year with 2.0. but even this couldn’t work without the story backing the visuals. What I respect most about SShankar'sfilm is that the message and the topic is equally as spectacular as the special effects. He's a legendary filmmaker.
In a recent interview, Ranveer Singh revealed how he always looked up to you as an inspiration. What qualities do you want young actors to learn from you?
If there is one advice I could hand down to the next generation, it would be to respect time, effort and money. Regardless of the kind of day you are having, respect your producer’s money, your director’s time, and your crew’s unconditional effort. It’s easy to forget how much sweat and tears it takes by hundreds of good souls to make a movie, that you yourself end up taking most of the credit for. Never ever forget that an actor is nothing without a script, without an expert cameraman, a director with a vision and a team that makes the dream a reality. Ranveer Singh has adopted many of my qualities. I adore him so much for his energy and purity, and I hope he doesn’t allow anyone ever to affect his flamboyant flame.
As a martial arts expert, how important is it for you to remain fit as well as to promote fitness?
I don’t think it’s right for anyone to not be fit yet preach others. For me, it’s extremely important to be real, healthy, natural and to be something everyone else can be, if they applied themselves. This is why I don’t believe in shakes and supplements. Never be a product of a product, be a product of hard work, instead of getting gains from a bottle.
Favourite new-generation actor: Ranveer Singh
Fitness regimen: Functional overweights
Diet: Everything in moderation
Parenting tip: Be the drive behind your child's dreams in their pursuit of happiness
Favourite pass time: Family picnics, a lot of them
Go-to happy movie: Hera Pheri
Comfort food: Mom's aloo paratha
Catch 2.0 in theatres now