“I am a true patriot”

He is one of the most bankable stars in Bollywood today, who unlike many of his contemporaries does multiple films a year. Akshay Kumar’s Airlift, releases on Jan 22. The actor speaks to Gaurav Sharma on his choice of films, patriotism,
discipline and more


How have you been? You must be very busy.
Great, but not really busy. (Laughs) I don’t think we are that busy as we pretend to be. I have always felt that if you plan thing before hand and follow a schedule you will find time for everything. See, I have already planned my day and I will be free in some time and will be back home by evening. So, the rest of the day will be spent with my family.
But the kind of profession you are in, there are always chances of your schedule going haywire?
That is what most think but I believe that you have to set an example. If I am the hero of a film, then the others will do what I do. If I reach the set on time then everyone will try to be on time. They will say see if the hero is coming on time, then we too better be on time. It’s all about discipline  and I feel that makes things lot easier.
Is that the reason you don’t shoot at night?
Yes, because I wrap up my work by evening and then I go home and spend time with my family  and go off to sleep early. It’s because I am an early riser and start my day early. I go off to sleep when others just start partying.
And is it true that you monthly expenses too are minimal?
I spend a lot on my family and friends but if you are asking about the money I spend on myself…I mean mere khud ke upar…it’s not more than Rs 3000. See, I shoot most of the time. So my food bills, hotel stay and conveyance is paid by my producer. In fact, he has to pay (smiles) or why will I do that. I don’t smoke and I also do not drink. So, it doesn’t exceed more than Rs 3000-Rs 3500. And I think that’s sufficient and normal.
So, how do you manage to do so many films every year?
(Laughs) Why? I don’t think that’s very difficult. It approximately takes 60 days to make a film, so four films mean 240 days…and now you can calculate how many days you are still left with every year. I also go on holidays with my family for at least a month. So, I don’t think doing four films a year is at all difficult.
Airlift will be your first release this year.
Yes, I am really thrilled about this film. It’s a true story and a very inspiring one. I think this is one film that everyone should watch because such stories become legends and it’s such a pride when you see such a mammoth job of airlifting 1,70,000 people from a crisis situation was done by the national airlines.
Last year you did Baby and this year Airlift. Both the films have a lot to do with patriotism.
I am a true patriot and I feel proud to associate myself with such films. I am lucky that I get to do such films. I think we all are patriots…Who doesn’t like watching his national flag flying high in the sky. In fact there are a few scenes in Airlift that gave me goosebumps. There was a scene where the Tricolour flies at the airport and it gave me goosebumps and at the same time made me feel proud. I am happy that the film is releasing close to Republic Day. It is very relevant to release the film around this time
So, what attracted you to the script?
The simple fact that Air India did such an impossible job of airlifting 1,70,000 civilians. It’s the biggest rescue mission by air in the history of the world. Just imagine what was going on within the minds and hearts of so many Indians who were stuck in Kuwait after Iraq invaded it. They had to leave behind everything… there houses…zindagi bhar ki kamai and were not even sure what was in store for them. And then this unprecedented step was taken by Air India to initiate talks with Iraq and strategically rescue every Indian and that too in a record time of 59 days. Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a film? I am lucky that today I can choose films.
Yes, today you can but there was a time when you were not in a position to chose films?
(Sighs) Everyone has to go though that phase. I didn’t have a background in films. I am thankful to everyone who gave me work at that time. I can’t disown my films. I know I did them and I am proud of all my films. I am a product of my work. People call them B-Grade…C-Grade films but I am proud of all the films I have done.
Any plans of doing television?
(Laughs) Now if I say yes, you will say that you are doing so much work. I have done television and I really like the medium but right now I am not doing anything new. I am focusing more on doing a  variety of films, which I feel I have been doing for quite some time now.  (TWF)


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