Akshay-your co-star for all practical purposes in this film is a dog called Junior, how did you pull that off?
Well, it is a little bit like shooting with a child. So, on any given day if my co-star did not want to shoot, I just let him be. Like in Heyy Babyy, the baby would go off to sleep when the shot was ready, and so we couldn’t possibly have woken her up. This film was no different. One day, Junior (who plays Entertainment) refused to shoot as he was too busy digging up a hole in the ground, so I just let him play around. It was only after he was done that we resumed shoot.
A mainline film like Entertainment with an animal playing a pivotal role will be seen after quite a while. Are there any parallels that you can draw?
Yes, I think the last such film was Aankhein with a monkey, and of course there was Haathi Mere Saathi long before that, starring my father-in-law which went on to become a huge hit. However regardless of how it is received, after watching this film, you and every member of the audience will want to get themselves a dog. It’s also wonderful for kids because they learn of values like unflinching loyalty which is so rare.
Would you agree that the possibility of a dog inheriting a fortune, the premise of the film, is a rather remote possibility?
You know, long back, I had read an article about a Parsi gentleman who left his entire property to his dog and not his son! The poor son would not have known what hit him, but reportedly he survived as the caretaker to the inheritor, the dog. There have been quite a few instances in the USA where people have left their worldly fortunes to their pets—dogs and cats too, so yes, though not very common, such a thing is not unheard of.
What sort of business do you expect Entertainment to do at the box-office?
There is no point in expecting anything in this life; we have to play whatever cards we are dealt. I have never and will never put a price or pressure and definitely never an assumption on any of my films. I’d be a fool if I did, every time I release something, and if it does better or worse than my estimate, it would only make me look ill-informed about what I do, for no-one can truly judge what any audience accepts or trashes on a week to week basis.
There are some things that people just cannot get me to do and playing the ‘predicting game’ is one of them. What people need to remember about me is, I’d still make films whether only a handful of people went to see them, or the whole country.
But as for my honest predictions, all I’m saying is, everybody needs ENTERTAINMENT; ENTERTAINMENT is all we need (smiles)
Anyone you know that got themselves a dog because of the film?
Tamannah, my co-star who at one time didn’t like dogs has got herself one and is now a very proud dog-owner.
Your film Holiday… (that released recently) got off to a good start. Were you happy with its success or could the collections have been better?
Well, sure if it had released during a festival weekend or something, it would certainly have fared better, but the fact that it was appreciated as a smart thriller is wonderful.
Your home production Fugly, on the other hand that launched four newcomers did not fare well despite an initial buzz around it; what do you think went wrong?
Yes, Fugly did not set any records, but I stand by our film. Sometimes even a good, relevant subject doesn’t quite impress the audience due to various reasons.
Earlier today, we spoke about international talent finding its way to Bollywood and even gaining a wide acceptance here—why is it that Indian film talent is not accepted as widely outside India?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. One must remember that we are far more connected to the western world than they are to us on many levels, purely because we advertise them, we listen to their music, watch their films as if they were ours, but they can only see us as a novelty because that’s how we choose to play it. Don’t get me wrong, but we are very much wanted even across the seven seas. Over the years I’ve seen, heard and received many offers to be a part of a Hollywood film, and so have most of my peers. I think it is we, who are reluctant to cross the boarders as we are far more happy being sharks in our own ocean, than being just another fish in their sea.
You have The Shaukeens coming up too, wherein you act opposite model Lisa Hayden, who impressed everyone with her outing in Queen this year. What is your impression of her? Do you think she can be among the top drawer leading ladies?
I am playing a small role in the film. As for Lisa, why yes, she has as good a chance as anyone else, although her way of performing is very different and refreshing.
Would you say that an actor who has more than one release in a year, while he hedges his risks, also runs a chance of diminishing the opening of his second or third film releasing in the year? Does the strategy of doing one film a year work better from that point of view?
Each to their own! I don’t make three or four films a year for a strategic benefit. I make these many films because I want to, I live for my work, whether I make or break records or not, I do what I do for the love and passion I have for it and the pure adventure that it is. Maybe one day I’ll only want to make one film a year, but again it won’t be for profit making reasons, it will be because that’s what I choose to do. Now, I can’t speak for others, what they do with their time and their work schedule is entirely up to them. But I don’t think making more or less movies a year makes that much of a difference to what the film’s outcome will be. If a film is good enough, people will watch it. Regardless of how much they miss you or are used to you, true fans never tire. My films make what they make and I’m not gonna disappear for a year in order to have higher collections. That’s not me, and that’s not how I function, whether I’m right to do so or, not.
It is quite the sports season, so which is the sport of your choice?
I vouch for all sports, anything that gives inspiration to not only kids, but adults too. You are never too young or old to start. I have actually gone against the average Bollywood trend, and opted for buying a kabaddi team ‘Speedy Singh’. I will even be performing at the World Cup Kabaddi tournament at the O2 Arena next week in honour of their Championships!! As idols we need to do the most we can when it comes to promoting, sponsoring, and encouraging sports, as our country has never really stood up for sports.We, as people really need to change this perception.
In a series like Housefull, which is now going to be helmed by new directors, would you say that it’s imperative that the actors (principal cast) should continue in all editions?
Well, a true fan would know that apart from Riteish and I, we are the only original cast, and of course Chunky Panday. But other than that, we have had completely different actors/actresses cast in both sequels.
I’d have to say, I’m as excited as the next man to find out whose gonna make this HOUSEFULL Team!!
Any particular film series that you wish to be a part of?
I’m already part of the biggest and longest film series in Bollywood. My Khiladi franchise has been going for more than 20 years now. It will always hold the biggest place in my heart; I couldn’t have asked for more as an actor. I am a Khiladi all the way. It’s always great to make films where people are eagerly anticipating the sequel before they’ve left the theaters. I remember feeling the same way about Iron Man. To have something like that is every actor’s dream. I’m a very lucky man.
After helming an adventure show, what prompted you to become a judge for a dance reality show on television?
Dare To Dance is going to be very different from shows that you have seen before. We have included an element of dare in the format, which means that the participant is supposed to dance in unusual and difficult conditions unlike anything that is conducive to dance!