Bollywood star Akshay Kumar says his next movie Rustom — based on the sensational K.M. Nanavati case of a Mumbai naval officer — will make the audience think about the country’s legal system.
The Rustom trailer has evoked the unprecedented response. Your response?
Gratitude is my biggest response. I knew I liked the film, I knew I found the concept interestingly gripping. But one never knows how the world will react to what I personally feel is intriguing and interesting.
Are you happy with the response?
So far the response has been mirrored to my own emotions and that is one of the greatest feelings an actor can experience, a shared passion about one’s choices of projects is just so humbling that it makes you want to hug all your fans and thank them for sharing their eagerness in your work.
While the trailer was released, you were away on a holiday. Do you regret missing out on the excitement for your film back home?
I would have regretted not being on holiday with my kids. I’ve made over 130 films, and luckily still counting. But I only get so many years to throw my kids in the pool and watch them marvel at the world before they become too big and too distant for me to impress.
But didn’t you feel cut off from the pre-release excitement back home?
Thanks to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg’s greatest inventions, they kept me connected to the world which made me feel like I was at home feeling the love and support as if I was only inches from everyone’s excitement.
Rustom is your first film on a crime of passion… It’s about a loving husband who murders his wife’s lover. How difficult was it for you to portray this man who loves his country and wife but is accused of murder by the law?
It was so thrilling for me to portray such a character, one who has nothing but love and patriotism in his heart. But a crime is a crime… This film will leave you thinking twice about the legal system, the action of mankind and the ability to do the right thing at the right time. It’s one of those films that people will argue about on their way out of the theaters, questioning each other on what they would do, given the same circumstances and what would they have done if they were on ‘that jury’.
The year has so far been extremely kind to you. Your reaction to Airlift and Housefull 3 being big hits?
You make it out like I wasn’t deserving enough to have a kind year! I personally couldn’t have wished for a better response to one of the most patriotic films I’ve ever made.
You mean Housefull 3?
I see my comedies have helped critics loosen up. But jokes aside, Airlift made me feel proud to be Indian. As for Housefull 3, I love the fact that one of my favorite franchises can still bring so much laughter to the crowds, people let their hair down and let out whoops of laughter in the theaters. It’s the heartiest feeling in the world. What better feeling than to make people happy?
Another semi-new director in Rustom. What made you see a spark in Tinu Suresh Desai?
Anyone that makes the grade with Neeraj Pandey (he has produced Rustom) is all good-by me. Neeraj’s standards of filmmaking and his script sense are irreproachable. So Tinu had my full faith from day one. I’ve not regretted my instincts for a second.
Isn’t it difficult for a new director to guide you?
Tinu has pulled all of us together into one creative vision so fast and so well that I take my hat off to him. He’s a producer’s director and he doesn’t mess about for a moment. He would forget to say hello to you as he had to be so engrossed with his work. But his practicality always brings him back to reality. Speedy man, fast paced, exactly what I like in my directors when they know what they want and get it come hook or by crook, they get their shot.
What impels me is change. Keeping my audiences intrigued is a very important part in keeping them interested in my career. When I star opposite a fresh face, the audience has no idea what kind of connection we will have.
What about Ileana? What about her?
Ileana is a pleasure to work with of course. She has a competitive edge about her but laced with a charming exterior. She likes to push herself in her scenes and takes a demanding day on the chin. Rustom may not be a physically taxing movie but it was certainly emotionally draining for all of us.