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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - He’s one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars today. Having found success pretty early on with a slew of action movies that won him the Khiladi Kumar tag, the Rowdy Rathore actor is also one of the most versatile stars to rule the industry.
This week Akshay Kumar returns to the big screen with the horror comedy, Laxmii (previously titled Laxmii Bomb), a remake of the 2011 Tamil film Kanchana, helmed by the original director Raghava Lawrence. Protests from Hindu religious groups may have forced the makers to tweak the title ahead of its release on November 9, but the dependable Akshay Kumar, appears in fine fettle clad in a sari, with bindi and bangles in place in a role that he admits is out of his comfort zone. While the actor didn’t seem keen to discuss his path breaking role as a transgender in the movie tagged equal parts comedy and horror, fans can no doubt look forward to a dazzling display of what he’s known to deliver best — entertainment.
Laxmii, starring Akshay and Kiara Advani, is the first Bollywood movie to get a full-scale theatrical release post the Covid pandemic that saw cinemas running to limited capacity. A Diwali offering from an actor known to entertain audiences with his larger than life persona on screen as well as a carefully curated selection of movies with strong social messaging, Laxmii is bound to be a crackling watch. Excerpts from an interview with Akshay Kumar ahead of the release of Laxmii.
Laxmii is the first Bollywood movie to have a theatrical release in the UAE post the pandemic. However in India it releases on a streaming service. What are your thoughts on it?
When we made this film there was no trace of Covid and it was a film made to be enjoyed with your entire family on the big screen, but then in life not all things go as per plan and sometimes you need to modify the plan. And that’s what we did with Laxmii and I think we made the right decision because even today as we speak the number of theatres operational across the country (India) is pretty miniscule and would not do justice to the film. I’m grateful to have a mass platform like Disney+ Hotstar VIP to showcase my film to a larger audience.
The song Burj Khalifa from the movie has already amassed over 88 million plus views. What role does Dubai play in it all?
I feel the song shows Dubai in all its glory, featuring the iconic Burj Khalifa standing tall or should I say tallest in the Dubai skyline. It’s a very peppy beat, nicely shot with some fun choreography. But the song is a dream sequence in the film so the story doesn’t really move to Dubai but surely helps uplift the film and the mood.
It’s heartening to see so many of your colleagues like Ajay Devgn, Aamir Khan, and Abhishek Bachchan tweeting out their support of the movie once the trailer dropped. How does that feel?
It was extremely sweet of all of them to reach out and share such amazing feedback. When you do a role out of your comfort zone any and every kind of appreciation is welcome, so all the positive reaction coming from my peers was absolutely wonderful.
You were among the first set of actors from the industry to get back to filming once the lockdown in India was lifted. How did you manage to make the most of the time at home?
Like you said I did make the most of my time... at first like everyone else even I enjoyed this sudden staycation, spending quality time with my daughter, going on bicycle races with her, baking with my son, catching up on web series with my wife Tina, playing board games with the family etc. But soon enough I started to miss work and facing the camera. So I indulged in a lot of script reading over video calls, made some music videos, hosted a music concert, shot a couple of commercials, added a few more zeroes to my bank balance... the usual stuff!
You are ranked 6th in Forbes list of highest paid actors this year. What makes Akshay Kumar such a successful brand today? Is it the movies you choose, the social causes you promote or just clean living?
It is all of the above things and more. I genuinely believe and follow the mantra of ‘kaam karo, kal ki chinta mat karo’ which roughly means do your job without thinking about the results. So my motto is clear, to do as much work, which I believe in for as long as I can without, really worrying about whether it will be a hit or a flop. Luckily for me, it has worked whether it’s a hit or flop!
You and Kiara Advani shared great comic chemistry in Good Newwz. Can we expect to see more of it in Laxmii as well?
Good Newwz was a dramedy, and the dialogues brought in a lot of fun and laughter whereas Laxmii is a horror comedy, which is more situational. So you will definitely get to experience humour in this as well but with a slight twist. You will feel fearful, but enjoy it at the same time!
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