Posted by Fenil Seta
Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; April 13, 2017)
Sceptics have dissed Akshay Kumar’s National Award win for Rustom but the actor would rather focus on his face-off with Shah Rukh Khan this August and advocating social causes like open defecation and sanitary napkins with his next two releases. Here’s Akki, unplugged...
Congratulations on your National Award win. Is this a dream come true?
I’m very happy. I consider it the blessings of my parents and the good wishes of my family. Mrs Funnybones (wife Twinkle Khanna) who always teased me on not getting any awards is happy and my happiness lies in making her happy.
What about the controversy? There is a section that believes filmmaker Priyadarshan who headed the National Awards jury favoured you?
I have completed 25 years in the film industry and I’ve never called in a favour to bag a movie or an award. As for Priyan favouring me, I think he has answered that question in your newspaper. (In an interview dated April 8, Priyadarshan told Mirror, “Akshay Kumar deserved the award and we gave it to him. There were a total of 38 jury members with me on this. How can you question the decision of so many people? Ramesh Sippy headed the jury last year. When he gave Best Actor to Amitabh Bachchan for Piku why didn’t anyone question him?”)
You’ve set up a box-office clash by pushing the release of Toilet - Ek Prem Katha to coincide with Shah Rukh Khan’s next film, Raula, this August.
My film is coming on August 11 because it’s a big date and an opportune time. Besides, Independence Day, there is another holiday in the same week. Such long weekends can easily take two big releases. Ghayal and Dil clashed, as did Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan.
But clashes tend to get ugly…
Box-office clashes are professional hazards and ideally they should not have any personal implications. In a situation where we have 200 movies to be accommodated in 52 weeks, clashes have become unavoidable.
Surely, we don’t live in an ideal world…
I’m aware of that. But I’m not willing to draw blood or go to war over a movie.
But a clash also eats into the box-office pie?
(Laughs)At least both of us are still assured of eating pie.
SRK and you almost clashed in August four years ago.
Yes, Chennai Express came on August 8 followed by Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara a week later. The clash was averted by the producers, Ekta Kapoor and SRK.
There is a growing tendency amongst superstars to own Republic Day, Independence Day, Eid, Diwali and Christmas weekends.
I released Airlift on Republic Day last year and Rustom on Independence Day. Both films were successful but I still do not think I own these dates. As I said earlier, these are good weekends to cash in, but they most certainly do not belong to me or any other actor.
You’ve suddenly become the go-to actor for projects with a cause. Toilet - Ek Prem Katha speaks against open defecation, followed by Pad Man which advocates the use of sanitary napkins.
I’m an actor, an entertainer; I’m certainly not here to preach. That’s why I balance out my choices. On one hand I do a slapstick comedy like Housefull and a social comedy on the other. If my films can entertain and also carry a message subtly, why not? Toilet - Ek Prem Katha is a satire, but it is also an entertainer. It is such a pity that 54 per cent of India still goes to the fields to relieve itself. This practice not only endangers them but also those around them. If women in rural India had a toilet in their homes, we’d have 30 percent less rapes in the country. We really need to change the statistics if we are to become a safe, progressive country.
Isn’t it tricky trying to sell sanitary towels?
Padman is based on the life of social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganatham whose efforts towards making a low-cost sanitary towel machine was recognised by the government. My wife sourced the story in her book, The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad. I am proud to play him and propagate such a sensitive message. I don’t know if India is ready for the message but I most certainly am ready to impart it. I’m a male feminist. In my opinion women should be nurtured not bullied, respected not threatened, looked after and not abused.
You’re advocating so many causes. Do you harbour political aspirations?
I am not looking to get into politics and am not aligned with any political party. I am just happy that the current government is doing a lot to fight open defecation. I’m aligned with the ruling party’s thought process on this. Beyond this, I have no interest in politics.
This entry was posted on October 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm, and is filed under 64th National Awards, Akshay Kumar, Akshay Kumar interview, Interviews, Pad Man, Priyadarshan, Shah Rukh Khan, Toilet - Ek Prem Katha . Follow any responses to this post through RSS. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.