It was quite a surprise when everyone hailed Akshay Kumar in Neeraj Pandey’s smartly made film Special 26 last year. Many critics felt that it was the actor’s best performance till date. And quite neatly so. However, a section of the audiences did feel that Special 26 isn’t really a typical Akshay Kumar film. The actor who is known to deliver Khiladi stunts better than powerful roles was a miscast.

In a conversation with Koimoi, Neeraj Pandey reacted to the same with, ” The minute we got our script in place, we knew Akshay was the best one to play the role. And we can’t control other people’s judgement. It was ‘The’ casting for the film.”

Neeraj Pandey and Akshay Kumar at an event
Neeraj Pandey and Akshay Kumar at an event

Despite Akshay proving his mettle, the popular thought suggested that Akshay could have been a miscast if Neeraj hadn’t guided him well. However, Neeraj did not agree with it at all. “No ofcourse not. I am not speaking out of humility. Akshay is a very sensible actor who understood what was desired of him in this particular project. A director can only be as good as how his actors make him. Special 26 was a big ensemble. There were many actors, and some were coming in for just two sequences and were extremely crucial nevertheless! Everyone had something important to contribute to the film and my job was only to channelize it in the right direction.”

But adding star value might be disadvantageous for the film often, especially in case of Special 26, there was a risk of diluting the original matter. Pandey confidently retorts with, ” His star value was more beneficial I guess because he brought in an inherent charm. More than that he made this project viable. Huge sums were invested on the production side and when the poster came out as Akshay starrer it was good for us. We had a terrific ensemble and the film could be mounted the way it eventually was because of him. His performance was very good.”

Neeraj Pandey is currently immersed in the pre release work of his film Total Siyaapa which he scripted but the maverick whose A Wednesday is still etched in our minds is working on several projects zeroing his next directorial.

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