Akshay Kumar probably has the most interesting career graph in the industry considering the ups and downs he’s seen. While he started out as the famous stuntman, he’s moved on to comedies big time. On the eve of the release of his film, Khatta Meetha, Akshay gets candid with Komal Nahta on ETC’s Bollywood Business, talking about learning Marathi, turning producer and even clarifying on why he charges a high price from his producers… Read on.
Was learning Marathi, talking in a Marathi accent, difficult for you?
It wasn’t very difficult since I’ve been in Bombay for 35 years. I arrived in Bombay when I was 7 years old, after my dad’s transfer. I didn’t know Marathi in the beginning. Then one day I was in a bus and the conductor kept yelling at me in Marathi and I couldn’t figure out a word. A co-passenger then told me that he was asking me to move forward. I then decided to learn the language as soon as I could and it wasn’t very difficult since I lived in a Maharashtrian neighbourhood.
Did you expect to get so far in life?
I never expected so much from life. I wanted to become a martial arts teacher or would have become a Navy officer, but I never expected to become a film star.
You had a bad spell at the box office for almost two-and-a-half years. Then it turned around and ‘Housefull’ brought you back to stardom.
This isn’t the first time. I’ve had 14 flops in a row. Ups and lows, highs and lows are all part of life. If a film is a hit, I celebrate with my son, wife and family. When your film flops, you can barely get out of the bed in the morning and drag yourself to the shoot. Even at the shoot, you just want to get it over with and go back home. You feel depressed for about a week or two and then life must go on.
“I’ve had 14 flops in a row.”
Whenever it comes to star prices, you’re named first. Why did you start charging so much?
These charges against me are baseless. If I demanded an unreasonable price like 20, 30 or 40 (Rs crores) and if a producer agrees to pay the price then you must be getting something back in return. That’s why I started my own production company. I invest money in the film, and the profit is shared between me and the distributor. I was the one who began this studio system solution of having a percentage with the distributor.
Do you think that Salman Khan and you are responsible for prices hitting the ceiling?
I don’t think so. There were people to support us for this. We aren’t holding a gun to anyone’s head. If we are being paid such a price it’s only because people are willing to pay.
“Almost 60 per cent of hit films in Bollywood are comedies.”
You had once said that you didn’t understand the system of actors becoming producers and distributors. And now you’ve turned producer…
There were allegations of me charging too much. So I decided that if you don’t know how much to charge for a film I decided to become producer, invest in the film and then take a share of the profits.
Why are you sticking to comedy films? Is it a conscious decision or are these the only types of films that are coming your way?
If you study the hit films over the years, you will realize that 55-60% of them are comedy films. If these films succeed then I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t do them. But I am doing a film like Patiala House which is based on a father-son relationship. Once in a while I try films like 8x10Tasveer, where even 4×2 people don’t come to see the film!
By Koimoi Team