Pick & choose

Akshaye Khanna on his next Gali Gali Chor Hain,his admiration for Anna Hazare,and why he will always be choosy about his film.

Written by Geety Sahgal | Published:January 6, 2012 5:25 pm

Of the many adjectives used to describe the actor,unconventional,moody and arrogant are staple. Which of these are inherent and which got attached to him along the way,we don’t know,but Akshaye Khanna continues to fascinate the media and the audience alike. His choice of films,however,remains questionable. At first glance the actor’s repertoire of movies is varied. There’s the very successful Race,the understated Gandhi My Father,the comic Mere Baap Pehle Aap and the dramatic Aakrosh,to name a few. But trade analyst Vinod Mirani says,“Akshaye is very particular about what he does,but he should know that no one wants to pay Rs 200 to watch a film on honour killings with a local flavour,like Aakrosh. Since he has the potential,he should attempt more comedies as it’s a genre in which he fits the best. With Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn around,he will not be accepted in the action genre.”

As Akshaye,excited about his to-be-released Gali Gali Chor Hain,a satire on the system,cheerfully settles down for a conversation in producer Nitin Manmohan’s sprawling Mumbai office,there is a casual air about him. He sinks into a comfortable chair and reclines coolly as he defends his rather brief repertoire of movies,since he made his debut 14 years ago in Himalayaputra.

“We need more scripts,at least the ones that I like. It’s not that I like sitting at home,in fact I get depressed doing nothing. If I had my way I would work 360 days a year. But one doesn’t work for the sake of working,especially in our profession. It’s a very people-oriented industry and you have to like the script,and have to enjoy the people you work with. You can’t do anything. I am not saying that every film I do will be a correct choice or a hit,but at least I have chosen it. Tomorrow if I get three scripts in one year I will do them all. I am constantly reading scripts but not much appeals to me,” he says with a smile.

So what attracted him to GGCH? “The script! And let me make it clear that there is no message or awareness about corruption in India in the film. Who is not aware of corruption in our country? You don’t need a movie to tell you that. This is just a story about a simple,small-town man,that’s me,who gets trapped in the system. He’s a bank employee,a cash-ier whose hobby is acting. GGCH is a hardcore entertainer,a commercial Hindi film in which we have taken a satirical look at the system. Whether you are the Prime Minister or a beggar the system is the same. It’s not easy to get anything done here,even a simple thing like getting a ration card is quite an ordeal,” explains the actor,adding that GGCH is an extremely important film for him,not only as an actor,but as a citizen of this country.

Born and bred in South Mumbai and mingling with the affluent,was it easy to fit into the character of a middle-class married man residing in Bhopal in the film?

“See,there was nothing like trying to fit into the character. I was just playing a normal person. Once you have the material with you,you just follow the script and the scenes. It’s like cycling on a path that is already carved out for you. No matter how good an actor you are,if you don’t have the written word or content no one can do it. At least I cannot. And this film has tremendous content.”

That prompts the next question. Will the film have an impact on the audience too?

“Any form of art has an impact. Thousands of movies have stayed with me,I even remember the dialogues and scenes. In fact,the title song Gali gali is going to become very popular and stay with us for generations. It’s difficult to say if this film will make an impact,but I hope it will as serious issue like corruption has been tackled in an entertaining way. It’s one of Rumy Jafry’s (director) best works in terms of his writing.”

Does he think that Anna Hazare’s campaign on anti-corruption and the film’s release are well-timed? “Nothing was planned,but yes,we happened to make a film on an issue and it became topical and front-page news. That’s good for the film. And in this case I really admire Anna and his cause. He has demonstrated to the country quite spectacularly the freedom that the constitution of India allows its citizens. He has shown,that in our society one man can take over everything,including the Parliament on a single personal belief that the country needs an anti-corruption law. It’s very inspiring as something of this scale has not been done in our country for a long time.”

His last film Aakrosh,despite reasonably good reviews,did not do well. However,Akshaye is quick to admit that though it had a good story,it wasn’t promoted well and as a result didn’t appeal to the audience. “I thought it was a well-made film and Ajay and I worked well together. I think it was not publicised well enough,though Ajay and I went all out to promote it. I guess the promos were not as attractive as they should have been. I think people decide beforehand whether they want to watch your film or not,no matter where you go,what you say,and how many television shows you do,nothing makes a damn difference. When you watch a promo or a poster,you decide whether you want to watch a film. And to tell you the truth even I do that,” says Akshaye,who was exposed to the robust world of Bollywood ever since he can remember,accompanying his dad Vinod Khanna to film shoots and hanging out on the sets with him.

And what did he think about Veena Malik,who has done an item number in GGCH,especially the publicity stunt about her going missing for a day and then resurfacing saying that she was tired and needed to sleep? “To each his own,live and let live. Frankly I appreciate and respect someone who has that kind of drive to go to extremes to achieve his or her goals,and in this case,grab headlines,” he says with a laugh.

There is a lot at stake for Akshaye with GGCH and he hopes that the audience will like the movie. As for his future projects,he candidly admits that he has nothing in his kitty as of now. “I am out of work till I sign something else. And as an actor,I am open to anything whether it’s TV shows also,only I have to like it. But I don’t want to try my hand at direction or production as it’s a huge responsibility. I am not ready for it them. I am very satisfied and happy being an actor. However never say never because no one knows what’s in store for the future,” he grins.

Unlike his peers who are busy raking in the moolah while working with big banners,Akshaye is hoping to find his place in the industry. “It would be nice if people came up with more innovative scripts,” he says in a matter-of-fact tone

However,trade analyst Komal Nahta says that regardless of the lack of good scripts,which is a hazard in the film industry today,Akshaye should do more films. “Whatever he does,he has to be seen more on screen otherwise it will be the case of ‘out of sight,out of mind’ situation’,” says Nahta. So now it can be left up to Akshaye,whether he wants to wait for those elusive roles,or make the most of what is there.

geety.sahgal@expressindia.com

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