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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Akshay Kumar: “Everyone Has The Power To Create Greatness”

Akshay Kumar is a bonafide megastar who has continuously made waves through his independent talent, discipline (in profession as well as physique) and hard work.

In a career spanning over 29 years, Kumar has appeared in over 100 films and has won numerous awards – including the National Film Award as well as the Padma Shri – fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India.

Furthermore, according to Forbes, Akshay is also the fourth highest-paid actor in the world and undoubtedly a bankable name.

Since his rise to prominence with Khiladi, the 52-year-old superstar has impressed us in several roles be it thrillers like Ajnabee, comedy such as Hera Pheri or a romance like Dhadkan.

The year has been a triumphant as we’ve witnessed consecutive blockbusters through movies like Kesari, Mission Mangal and Housefull 4.

Concluding 2019, Kumar returns in Dharma Productions’ and Zee Studios’ Good Newwz, a comedy of errors around the crux of IVF. 

Filme Shilmy managed to catch up with Akshay Kumar to talk about the film and his on-going endeavour of raising social awareness through Hindi cinema.

IVF is quite a serious topic. How does Good Newwz deal with this topic in a sensitive manner, rather than trivialise it through comedy?

Today the global total of babies born as a result of the science behind IVF is about 8 million.

It has fast become a part of the lives of so many families and has given so many willing parents the gift of childbirth in scenarios where they may not have been able to in the past.

Our film may be based on a real Goof Up, which of course happens across all fields of science and humans, but we’ve incorporated it to bring humour to an otherwise stressful situation.

But what’s more important is the awareness of films like Good Newwz that shows such miracles that matter.

At the end of the day, regardless of the trials and tribulations, it’s about the birth of Life, which we have delicately or rather humorously portrayed in our film.

Even now, the topics of reproduction and fertility are quite ‘taboo’. Why do you think this is the case and how long will it take to break this taboo?

Yes, these things are still considered taboo because we still have a lot of conservative minds who have prescribed values and beliefs.

Behavioural change has never been an overnight process and can sometimes take generations.

I feel there has been a slow and steady change amongst us, especially with the youth empowering new thought and activism.

The beauty with cinema, especially from an entertainment lens, is that it has the power to not only entertain but inspire action.

In Good Newwz, whilst what happens in the film did happen in real life, the plot nevertheless is unique.

Putting the goof-up aside, the film touches on various issues which I can personally relate to such as the subject of pregnancy, the trials and tribulations parents go through during those 9 months and the months preceding.

The whole notion of being pregnant being a WE thing and not just an ‘I’ thing is also important.

Yes, the film is super entertaining but I guarantee you will feel so much in your heart in the last 20mins, even when I saw it I got choked up.

Things are slowly changing and it will take time till everyone can openly talk about such topics but I hope a film like Good Newwz becomes a conversation starter that can tackle many taboos.

You’ve reunited with Kareena (in a full-fledged role) since Kambakhht Ishq, which was 10 years ago. What changes have you witnessed about her as an actor?

Reuniting with Kareena after the birth of 2 of our own children Nitara & Taimur has been rather nostalgic and very homely, to say the least.

Our long-standing family camaraderie transcends on screen and both of us know that our fans enjoy watching us tease each other and create magic on screen.

Shooting with Kareena is always a pleasure, she is truly a diva, enigmatic even when she goofs up.

I am in awe of how she can alternate from being a mother, a friend to a cinematic star with the sound of the words action!

We couldn’t think of a more perfect project than ‘Good Newz’ to recreate our chemistry for the World to watch with a tissue and a box of popcorn.

Since both, you and Kareena are parents, in what way has your experience as a father helped you to present the character organically?

The joy of having a child is a very special feeling and I have been fortunate to be blessed with two beautiful children.

I think it goes without saying that as parents we will relate to certain circumstances and emotions with more vigour as we have experienced it first-hand.

I hope at the very least helps to bring out a convincing performance, especially in the scenes which are exceptionally endearing.

You have also undertaken formidable socially relevant films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Pad Man Gold, Kesari and Mission Mangal. Why do you think it’s important to bring such stories to the mainstream cinema?

Because a lot of these issues are untold or even unthinkable and it’s wonderful to see how our cinema cannot only entertain but also inspire and create awareness.

Using the cinematic canvas to project those stories to a much wider audience is a blessing.

I wouldn’t say every film I select is with the sole purpose of inspiring- they are just to simply entertain.

But yes, when films portray social messages and it brings about change in society it is fulfilling from within to see the impact we can make.

I guess I’ve grown as much as my audience has and this is where I believe the change starts – get into people’s mind and hearts and see what they do with that.

I think everyone has the power to create greatness.

Post this, we will be seeing you in a variety of projects – including your first web-series on Amazon Prime. How does doing different films/character satisfy you as an actor? What is your view on the digital revolution in India?

I am a big fan of the current digital revolution as it gives our stories a wider more accessible platform to reach audiences.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to work across a variety of roles that touch on all spectrums of society.

Be it playing the role of a small-town sanitary pad-making entrepreneur in Padman to being part of the cop universe in Sooryavanshi to my first historical with Prithviraj and now to an upper-middle-class workaholic in Good Newwz.

Good Newwz revolves around an urban couple played by Akshay and Kareena (playing Varun and Deepti Batra, respectively) trying to start a family and end up taking the help of IVF.

On the other hand, a couple from Punjab played by Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani (essaying Honey and Monika Batra) also comes to Mumbai for the same.

They consult the same doctor and wait for the results. The problem starts when their surnames are Batra due to which Varun’ sperm has gone to Monika and Deepti receives Honey’s swimmer.

This leads to the biggest chaos in their lives which constructs the trailer and film’s focal narrative point.

Directed by debutant Raj Mehta releases in cinemas from 27th December.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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