"Akshay is a non-interfering actor" - Anees Bazmee
By Satish Sundaresan, Bollywood Hungama News Network
He is a writer-turned-director whom the Bollywood residents have very aptly termed as the 'Midas Touch' man. And he has every reason to be called so. Whatever the world may know him as, but we would like to call him by his name 'Anees Bazmee', a name that's synonymous with a clear mind, no attitude, no starry airs and above all, a thorough gentleman! He is back with Singh Is Kinng, a magnanimous film that stars the Box-Office 'Khiladi' Akshay Kumar. If the fate of Anees' films like, Welcome, No Entry is anything to go by, then, we are sure that he is undoubtedly sitting on a gold mine with Singh Is Kinng. Bollywood Hungama caught up with this man for a free wheeling interview.
Aneesji, to start with, after all the hype and publicity blitzkrieg, your most heartfelt film Singh is Kinng is releasing this Friday. Are you nervous or excited?
Frankly speaking, I am totally at a loss of words to answer this question. In my career of 33 years in Bollywood, the excitement factor simply refuses to leave me. The level of excitement, instead of decreasing, keeps on increasing with every film of mine. With my film releasing this Friday, my mind is now passing through mixed emotions of excitement, fear, anxiety et al. I have never ever seen a positive reaction to any film as much as I have got to this film. I feel all the positive reactions are just God's way of conveying his feelings through someone else's voice. With the amount of expectations that this film has built, I just hope that the film is able to live upto it. The irony of the situation is that even though everyone is talking high of this film, I feel that that no one can predict the outcome of any film before Friday.
Was the number '08-08-08' the reason of to release the film on 8 August 2008?
No sooner that we finished the shooting of Singh Is Kinng, we felt that this day was just right to release the film. The date '08-08-08' was fixed by the film's producer, who I feel, believes in numerology. He feels that this date is not just auspicious but also immensely lucky. Hence the date '08-08-08'. On a personal front, even though I refuse to believe in such stuff, I am not at all against those who believe in it.
With the kind of pre-release hysteria that Singh is Kinng has created all over, do you feel that it will be a bigger hit than Welcome and No Entry?
It's a universal fact that No Entry was the biggest hit of 2005 and Welcome of 2007. But trust me; the kind of pre-release hysteria that Singh Is Kinng has created, is way beyond my previous two films. I never depend upon anybody's predictions; neither do I anticipate any film's outcome at the Box-Office. The only thing that I firmly believe is the audiences' reaction, because I feel that it is ultimately their opinion, which can simply make or break any film. I would also like to add that it's not necessary that the film that's closer to your heart will emerge as a smash hit at the Box-Office and vice versa. In my case, I cannot tell (read 'predict') that Singh Is Kinng will be a superhit only because it's very close to every member associated with it. No one, except the audience can answer your question. In other words, my audience is the 'King' for Singh Is Kinng!
You have repeated Akshay Kumar yet again in Singh Is Kinng. How was your experience working with him this time?
I know Akshay as someone who is an extremely simple person. Even though he is such a big star today, he is totally dissociated with any sort of starry air and attitude and he is immensely punctual on the sets. He is an extremely committed guy who is totally dedicated to his work. Unlike what the reports say, Akshay is totally a non-interfering actor. He treats every director of his as the captain of the ship. In other words, he simply submits himself to his director, as he feels that the director knows the film better. He does give his suggestions at times. But if the opposite person does not incorporate that suggestion/s, Akshay will never grudge about it. That's the beauty of this man, who, I would like to call as a thorough and a well-read gentleman. In short, he is what I would term as a Director's Actor to the core! I do know of certain actors who, at the behest of giving 'suggestions' start interfering in the film's affairs. Akshay is a far cry from such people! Akshay keeps the atmosphere filled with huge positive vibrations. Hence, it becomes fun to work at any time of the day or night. Akshay is truly a Rock star!
In a nutshell, can you please tell us as to what Singh Is Kinng is all about?
The film starts in a village where the main protagonist Happy Singh (Akshay Kumar) lives. Happy, like his name, wants to spread happiness everywhere he goes. He sincerely wishes to help everyone in his village, but the fact remains that nobody wants to seek his help because of their past 'experiences' with him. That's the reason they plan and send him on an 'expedition' to Australia, hoping that he will never return. But situations in Australia become such that Akshay lands up becoming a 'King' there. In a nutshell, the film is all about what happens when a Mr. 'Do-Gooder' becomes a criminal and how it affects the people around him.
Trade is abuzz with the news that Akshay has overtaken SRK to become the new No. 1 in Bollywood. What's your take on that?
Let me tell you, in my Bollywood tryst till date, I have never believed in the number game as I feel that the 'winner' of the game keep changing every Friday. If a certain film is a superhit, then, that person (irrespective of him being a hero/director) immediately gets heralded as 'No. 1'. Likewise, if the same person's film flops, he very quietly gets pushed to No. 4 or maybe lower than that! But as far as Akshay is concerned, I can vouch for his immense fan-following, not just in India, but globally because I have seen people literally screaming and shouting his name everywhere he went! The crowds simply used to go berserk at his mere sight. Leaving apart the No. 1 tag, I can surely tell you that Akshay Kumar has definitely become a major Superstar!
What are the locations where Singh Is Kinng has been shot? And what is it that makes it the most expensive film of 2008?
One has to see the film to experience the locations as they come alive on the silver screen. We have shot this film on a grand scale in exotic locations like Egypt, Gold Coast (Australia) and even Chandigarh. And as far as it being the 'most expensive film' is concerned, we have really spent a lot majorly on the 'look' of the film, something that shows in the film. I do agree that shooting in Australia was an expensive affair, but the film had certain scenes that simply had to be shot there.
Pritam's lilting music serves as one of the major highlights of the film. What's your take on the same and what's your favourite song from the album?
Working with Pritam was really a good experience. He is one of the most sincere and dedicated music composers that we have today. He has a bright future ahead. And as far as my favourite song from the film is concerned, I like all the songs so much that my favourite track keeps changing everyday, depending upon my mood!
Is Singh Is Kinng a comedy film or an action-comedy? With the presence of the daredevil Akshay Kumar, can the audience look forward to see some breathtaking stunts?
Besides comedy, the film has its share of action moments too. But since I do not like making action films, there's a tint of humor even in those action scenes! The fact is that I hate to show blood in my films. But with Akshay at the helm of things, it becomes needless to say that he has done a marvelously splendid job! The scene in which he jumps from one moving lift to another is sure to make the audiences' heart skip a beat! Besides that, there is one action scene in Gold Coast, which required Akshay to be riding a jet-ski and follow a helicopter. The Australian authorities do not allow anyone to do such stunts without a license, for which one has to pass a formal exam. Even though Akshay knew how to ride, he took the trouble of waiting patiently for 12 hours for the exam! At the end of the day, when all of us would sleep after a dead tired day, Akshay would still sit with his book and read for the exams. It's really amazing to see a person of Akshay's stature to do all this, only for obtaining permission.
Singh Is Kinng has been in the news for many reasons (mostly positive). Akshay's video with Snoop Dogg was one of them. How was the experience?
When I had made Welcome, I had shot the title song with the entire cast of the film. We wanted something of this sort for Singh Is Kinng too. That's when everyone suggested of roping an international artist. This suggestion was made keeping in mind the current generation's craziness about foreign artistes. After having made umpteen researches about the artistes, we finally zeroed down on Snoop Dogg. It was only for the glamour aspect that we roped him in. Initially, I thought it would be a difficult task shooting with him, but he turned out to be an extremely professional guy, not just about his commitment towards the time but also to the overall song itself!
Akshay is known to be the notorious 'Editing Master'. What was your experience with him on that front?
I too have heard about the same. But I don't think that there's even 1% of truth in it. The reason being if you watch Welcome, and if Akshay Kumar was the 'Editor Master', then, there wouldn't have been such lengthy roles of Nana, Anil Kapoor, Katrina and Paresh Rawal. Instead, the entire focus would have solely been on Akshay himself! I feel that the rumors about Akshay have been planted by some vested interests only because Akshay today is a very successful man. I am very sure that those who know Akshay well will never buy such statements about him. Let me ask this question commonly to everyone that, 'If the actors are at the liberty of calling the shots, then, what's the point of having a full-time director and an editor?'
Is it true that Salman wants the sequel to No Entry to start as soon as possible?
Many people want the sequel of No Entry to be made. As far as Salman is concerned, whatever he tells once is equivalent to others telling it 20 times. Salman did tell me to make a sequel of No Entry, which itself is a signal that he is keen on doing the film. And since he is a very close friend of mine, he has got all the right to ask whatever he wants of me.
There are rumors that you have started charging Rs 7 crores for your films. Comment.
I do not confirm neither deny the figures. All that I can say is that I am getting what I rightly deserve.
You are making a galore of sequels. What's your take on sequels?
I feel that making a sequel is a good thing. The reason being that since the first film (original) is already a hit; a positive image will prevail in the audiences' mind about the film. Also one need not waste time (unlike the original) in establishing the film's characters. Making sequels, I feel, is a very responsible job that needs to be handled very carefully.
Where do you see yourself 10 years down the line?
Frankly speaking, I don't plan things because I'm a very staunch believer in God. I just take one day at a time and leave the rest to Him.
Will you ever turn to producing films, as is the trend these days?
Firstly, I do not follow trends just for the sake of following it. And secondly, as far as me producing films is concerned, I doubt if I will ever go in that direction, as my mathematics has been pathetically weak since my school days and it continues to be so till date (laughs).
Any regrets so far in life?
As such, there is no regret. But, I do feel sometimes, that the way all my directors had got an Anees Bazmee in their lives, I just hope that I too get the 'Anees Bazmee' of my life!
Can you shed a sneak-peak on your next film Its My Life?
It's My Life is loosely based on the Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha genre of filmmaking. It's a very lighthearted romantic film based on college youth. While Genelia plays a student, Harman is an ex-student. And like every ex-student, Harman, too finds it difficult to dissociate from the college memories even after a couple of years after he passes out. Then, there's Harman's father (played by Nana Patekar) who acts as the main obstacle between the two lovers. The story proceeds from there.
Lastly, cite just one reason as to why should a person watch Singh is Kinng?
There are millions of reasons to watch the film. But, I don't want to brag about the film just because it's my film. But if I had to cite one reason to watch the film, then, all that I would say is that Singh Is Kinng is a total 'paisa-vasool' film! Need I say more!