So, Akshay Kumar is back from Cape Town from his holidays and now, he is all set to promote his upcoming release, Padman. Just like his co-star Sonam Kapoor in the trailer said, he is a true Marketing Ka Gunda! ;)
Today, we met the man himself for an interview, Akshay looked a stud as always in his casual attire. The Khiladi Kumar has kickstarted the New Year and he was all set to answer the questions with his quirkiness! His upcoming film Padman, now is all set to hit the theatres on January 25, 2018. The actor speaks from his heart about his film, menstrual cycle taboo in our country, Mogul and much more!
Excerpts from the interview:
1. How was your year 2017? Any resolutions for 2018?
Very good! There are no resolutions for 2018 till now. I haven’t got any, what should I do? I am thinking that I should start doing three films instead of four every year (laughs).
2. Do you think there is a huge responsibility like the industry depends a lot on Akshay Kumar delivering four films? So do you think there’s a lot of pressure on you?
No, there’s no pressure! I have been doing it since last 27 years now, to be more precise 27 and a half years now. So, there’s no pressure with it. I love to do it and I enjoying doing so many films. Aur waise bhi kya karunga? The film gets over in just 40-45 days, my four films take 200 days to finish and I am left with 165 days, what should I do then? If you actually calculate it, there’s so much time in your hand and I don’t know what to do! In those free days, I endorse an advertisement then or any show (laughs).
3. Is there any new thing that you want to learn?
Well, I have started learning sword fighting (for Kesari). I will be starting shooting for it from tomorrow.
4. If we speak about Padman, the menstrual cycle is still a taboo in our country. When did you come to know about periods in your life?
Like everyone else, it was kept hidden from me at my home too. I was also not aware about it. But then slowly, I got to know about it. But the actual thing or the process about it or 82% of the women don’t know about it or what a woman uses when they get periods, they use soil or ashes or leaves for it. It’s a shameful thing. So, I came to know about all these things later that is about 2 years back before we started making this film. I started knowing about it and then I thought that this is a kind of a movie, we should bring it in front of people and tell them about it that it is not a taboo, it is as simple as…it is a natural thing. And then I met Arunachalam Muruganantham and then I came to know about his psychology, and how much he cared for his wife. And that’s why he made this whole machine, jo hum crores ki machine kehte hai jo pads banati hai, usne 60,000 me machine bana di. He is a welder, he did that innovation. So, I found this story very interesting and his only thing I loved the fact that he said, ‘Woman strong will make country strong!’ that is the one line I liked about it. Then I realised that it is so true. What is the point of buying so much of defence, when your woman is only not strong? When 82% of women don’t use sanitary pads, they don’t have money, they don’t know about it and they have been excluded out.
When a girl hits puberty, it should be celebrated. It is just like how we celebrate Diwali or Holi, the same we should celebrate puberty. If a girl hits puberty, one should celebrate it because it is a great thing. It makes the girl think that something good has happened rather than making her feel ashamed by hiding it or considering it a taboo. When I came to know more about this, I thought I want to make this film, I want to be a part of this film, I want to produce this film with my wife and we have to bring it. I am so happy, not about that it is releasing on January 26 or how much money it would collect at the box office, but the best thing I like about it that whenever I open my social media account, men are talking about pads and that is the victory of this film that men have started talking about it. That is what I wanted!
5. There are women in the rural space who cannot afford a sanitary napkin as they are costly and several taxes are being laid on it. What do you have to say about it?
I agree! According to me, all these taxes- GST and all, I think it should be free. We can spend 2% less on defence, it will definitely help women.
6. Do you think when it comes to sending out any message with an entertainment value like making it into a film, does that create more impact?
Yes, it does create more impact! People would like to see…when a documentary comes on a silver screen, I have seen people go out to take munchies and all. But when a movie starts, your eyes are wide open. So that means it makes an impact.
7. When did you feel that you need to be socially responsible with the subjects of the films that you are choosing?
Well, I always had a feeling but I didn’t have the money to make it. When I had money to make it, I started producing.
8. Salim Khan considers that the superstars of today haven’t evolved that well like you have. He feels that you will leave all of them behind in the coming years. What do you have to say about it?
No, nothing like that. It is just his greatness that he has said such a nice thing. But according to me, there are no such rules and regulations in the industry about how a film will get hit. There is no formula in the industry. I can say that I have done a different kind of films. My one film should not match the other film, the other film should not match the third film. Now, I am doing Padman and then there’s another film called 2.0, where I am playing a villain. I am the main villain, fighting Rajinikanth. So that is a complete change! Lot of people asked me why I want to play a villain’s role, but why not? Koi villain hoga toh koi hero hoga! I liked that role, so I did it.
9. You worked with so many directors and have hardly repeated any of them in every film, and you have worked with first-time directors too. So, how does the process gets changed after working with different directors?
In this industry, I have worked about 21-22 directors and 17 new heroines in my career. My process is that I mould myself according to the director’s needs. When I work with a director, I become like water. My whole body will mould according to the way he wants me to.
10. Just like you have made films on different topics like Toilet: EK Prem Katha and now Padman. Is there any other topic that you want to make a film on?
For now, there’s nothing as such. Today in the morning, when I was at a radio station for promotions, a girl came to me and asked a question that after Padman, which other issues you will be highlighting? So I said, ‘you tell me, because I haven’t thought of it yet.’ And she says in a very stern voice, ‘Make something about dowry!’ Thodi der ke liye main hi darr gaya (laughs).
11. We have seen Mr. Arunachalam’s videos, his TED talks, he is a man of a very strong sense of humour. How was your first meet with him and how much of his qualities you have imbibed for Padman?
A lot of it, the way he is and what he does! But in the beginning, I tried talking to him but he didn’t talk to me. You know why? I asked him that why you didn’t want to talk to me when we became closer, he said, “I hate talking to men! I don’t like talking to men. I like talking to women.’ I said, ‘Why sir?’ He said, ‘because sir they are very slow! They take too much time to understand what I say. Women, they catch fast!’
12. How much do you think films have an impact on people and since it reaches a larger audience, even the rural audience especially when you make movies on social issues?
If it is supported by the government, it makes more impact! Like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha made an impact because it was supported. So I hope this also they understand it and they take it, because it is not only the need of hour but it is the most important thing. From last 2 years, I have been studying, thinking, reading, understanding and meeting rural women. The biggest problem is when they get their periods. Those 5 days is like hell, not because the periods have come, it is because people around them are surrounded with so much of taboo and things like that. People say bad things to them, when girls go to the schools, boys tease them, it is a shocking thing! Do you know what they call, I was shocked to know what they say to girls when they get their periods- Uska test match shuru hogaya, 5 day test match! This is the code word.
13. You, the three Khans- Shahrukh, Salman. Aamir and Ajay Devgn have dominated Bollywood as superstars for almost two decades. Despite the age catching up, you guys are still magnetic on-screen. But after six-seven years, what’s next? Because besides Varun Dhawan, in today’s times the public isn’t going to the theatres for the actor. Instead, they are being driven by stories and strong content. But there was a time when an actor used to attract the audience to a film. So what’s next?
A. I don’t know. I am doing my work. But the day I realize that I have slowed down and don’t have the stamina, I will step aside.
14. What’s the latest update on ‘Mogul’, the biopic on Gulshan Kumar?
A. It is still being written. Yes, I am part of it.
15. What is the screen count we can expect for Padman?
There are 5000 screens if I go according to Toilet: Ek Prem Katha count also, so it is 2400-2500. So maybe half!
16. Last year there was a film on the same topic (Phullu) which almost went unnoticed. Do you think our industry is still driven by a star system?
A. There is no formula that a film will work only if it has a star. A small film may also do well. At the same time, a star-driven film may also flop. A film works completely on the content and not the actor. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was made on a budget of 20-21 crores. Padman too has a same budget.