Akshay Kumar: I never had any issues with Karan Johar

Akshay Kumar on why he never worked with Karan Johar prior to 'Brothers' while Sidharth Malhotra recalls the gruelling prep up for the film in a chat with hitlist

Q. You worked with Akshay for the first time. Was it nerve wracking?
Sidharth: Yes, it indeed was. When I was first told that we will be doing an action film, I was confused about what I will show to the audience as Akshay is an action film icon. I prepped up for four months to match up to him. I was asked to put on 10 kgs for the role and I underwent training by coaches from Los Angeles.

Akshay Kumar (left) and Sidharth Malhotra. PIC/PRADEEP DHIVAR
Akshay Kumar (left) and Sidharth Malhotra. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Q. For you, Akshay, it is like coming a full circle as you started your career with action films and after 25 years in the industry, you have gone back to the genre...
Akshay: I did some action films in between too. I have always considered myself as a martial arts performer first and then an actor. This film came as a great opportunity to do some mixed martial arts (MMA) on screen.

Q. How long did it take for you to train yourself in MMA? How difficult was it?
Sidharth: It was really tough as I had to achieve two things at the same time — one, acquire the technique and two, gain weight. It was tough because I used to eat a lot and then train for five hours daily. I used to hit the gym, do martial arts... The only relief was an ice bath at the end of the day. I would step into a bath tub filled with ice cubes and stay there for 10-12 minutes. That's a scientific way to recover from muscle soreness. We both used to do it.

Q. Were professional fighters used in the film?
Akshay: Yes, absolutely. They were all pros, right from the choreographer to the action director and other fighters.

Q. What took you so long to work with Karan Johar (producer of the film)?
Akshay: I never had any issues with Karan (Johar). In fact, he is a close friend of my wife (Twinkle Khanna). We didn't work because he probably thought I do only action films. We have not discussed this, but there was never a fight or a cold war between us.

Akshay Kumar (left) and Sidharth Malhotra. pic/ pradeep dhivar
Akshay Kumar (left) and Sidharth Malhotra. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Q. You have always been associated with various kinds of sports. Any plans of promoting MMA in India?
Akshay: I already have different classes going on which includes martial arts like karate, but for this sport I would not get too involved as it is violent. I advise people to first watch it, understand it and then decide if you want to be a part of it or not. I will surely encourage youngsters to pursue self defence, but not MMA. It's a sport for people with a different mindset.

Q. Who's your biggest critic?
Akshay: Everyone is a critic as everyone has a different point of view for a film. For me, people who know about filmmaking and have done research on the industry are the ones I hold in high regard. There are some who know zilch about filmmaking, but are referred to as critics. Then there are others who take money to write good reviews about a film and to keep the cash flow coming, they start writing negative stuff and gradually become powerful. It is unfortunate that my industry people call them up and ask them notto write negative things, which I don't want them to do. I personally appreciate people who have the knowledge about the industry and know how a film is made. Our industry is very vulnerable, so help us and give us the power to do better.

Q. You do at least four films a year while other stars do just one or two movies per year. What's your logic: the more the merrier?
A. It is simple: I love doing films. Now, let me teach you some math. Some people, whom I don't want to name, make one film that costs around Rs 120-130crore. I make films that have a budget of Rs 30-35 crore each and that's how I end up doing four films per year and get to play different characters. I don't want to do the same kind of roles over and over again. That's my logic. But I am not saying that the math which others follow is wrong. I have been around for 25 years and every year, I do four films — that's how I calculate my self worth and that's how it will be till they shoot me down.

Q. Why don't we see you booking release dates for your film in advance like the other stars do?
Akshay: Because I don't believe in advance booking. I always go with what my producers and directors are okay with. I do films which have a lesser budget, so the risk is less. And when all festive dates are pre-booked, how do I even think of advance booking?

(Transcribed by Gaurav Dubey)

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