Bollywood camps cannot make you: Akshay Kumar

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Akshay Kumar has seen his share of professional highs and lows, but in his almost 25-year-old career, he refrained from associating himself with any Bollywood ‘camp’.

Riding high on the rave reviews for his recently released film, Baby, the actor talks to us about his journey so far, and more.

In 2016, you’ll complete 25 years in Bollywood, but unlike many, you still don’t belong to any ‘camp’.
You don’t need to belong to any ‘camp’ in order to make it. As long as you have the will to fight, and you pursue your dreams, no matter how many times you fall, success is just round the corner. Camps are just safety nets. They can’t make you what you want to become; they can only carry you so far. The rest is your destiny.

Baby, which is getting rave reviews, is your second film with director Neeraj Pandey (after Special 26; 2013). What makes you two click?
We have respect for each other’s time, talent and dedication. We both live and breathe films. He’s the easiest man to get along with. No one on his sets needs to turn up thinking they can better his script; they just need to bring it to life. And not just the success (of Special 26), I learnt a lot about myself while working with him. So, I couldn’t wait to work with him again.

In almost all your films, you work with new girls and new directors…
Everyone deserves a chance in life; I know that better than anyone. You don’t have to be famous or very experienced to be good at something. We have all come up from nothing, so giving newcomers an opportunity can only broaden horizons, not just for them, but for the industry as well. You can’t be working with the same people every year.

You recently celebrated your 14th wedding anniversary with wife Twinkle Khanna. How has your relationship evolved?
A good marriage never stops growing. As much as I thought that life was good when I got married 14 years ago, I never knew it could get better. The best thing about Tina (Twinkle) and me is that we never take each other for granted. And since we both understand each other’s lives and desire to work, we are able to support each other’s wants and needs. To be honest, I can’t believe how fast the years have gone. All I can say is that I’m already looking forward to the next 14 years.

We read in an interview that you hate the tag of a ‘superstar’.
I don’t see myself as one. I used to be just another kid, standing in a queue just to get a glimpse of the real superstars of Bollywood — from Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan to my father-in-law (Rajesh Khanna). I am what I am, but I’m not like them (a superstar), so when people put me on such a pedestal, I feel shy, but I’m also grateful for it.

You tend to stay away from film parties, and spend more time with your family. How come?
Bollywood doesn’t need me to attend parties. It will carry on whether I socialise or not. My family has always been my priority, and will remain so. I attend occasions that are important to my near and dear ones, out of love and respect. But, physically, I can’t afford to party every weekend just for others’ satisfaction. I’m all about my work and family; maybe that’s why I’m happily married. My life is at home, not at the bottom of a glass or on a dance floor, unless I’m being paid, of course (smiles).

Your new film, Baby, deals with terrorism, but doesn’t stereotype or focus on any specific country.
The film isn’t about blaming, stereotyping or being sensational about any religion, country, caste or terror act. It’s about what a group of men go through to keep their country safe during a mission. We are mainly bringing to light the unsung heroes that lose their loved ones, and battle to stay in their children’s lives so they can keep them as well as the rest of India safe. My character has a heart of gold; he means well, works hard and will do anything to make his family happy, while striving to do what’s right — so the subject is quite close to my heart.