Action, comedy, patriotism, satire, romance, drama — in a career spanning over 25 years and 100-plus films, Akshay Kumar has “the bad guy” in most of his movies.
However, the actor says he has never intended to preach anything to the audience or to change anybody's mindset with his work.
"I don't do films to bring changes in people's minds. I do films which I believe in. So I present the films which I believe in. If anybody likes the film or not, that depends on people," Akshay says about his new courtroom drama Jolly LLB 2.
Excerpts from the interview:
Strangely, you’ve never played a lawyer in the 100 plus movies you’ve done. How did you prepare for the role of Jagadishwar Mishra a.k.a. Jolly?
No prep. It is the story of a blunt, abrasive and yet oddly compassionate advocate and I have done similar characters in the past, so that was my go-to.
It’s a bit of an underdog persona, as Jolly attempts to catapult himself to the top of the legal food chain. Having spent years in the chaotic and dingy court corridors, Jolly is looking out for an opportunity that could turn the tide in his favour and help him achieve his dream of becoming a full-fledged lawyer with a chamber. When faced with the glimpse of such an opportunity, Jolly jumps at the chance and in the bargain commits an innocent mistake with irreversible consequences that makes him ready for a big fight with the ruthless advocate Mathur, played by Annu Kapoor.
What attracted you to this role?
Well, what I really liked about Jolly LLB 2 was the script. It is a great script, based on true incidents, and I was really impressed by the way it acts as a lens on our society. The film is packed with satirical humour, which is always far more palatable for an audience in a film like Jolly, where you are trying to convey a specific issue or message — it’s better than adopting a preachy attitude. It allows you to have fun, but also makes you think about the issues that affect us. But it’s more than just the script and story — it was great to work with Huma Qureshi, Annu Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla and our director Subhash Kapoor.
Usually you create franchises, but what was it like jumping into an existing one?
There are always some expectations when coming into an existing franchise, especially when the first film was so appreciated. In some ways that makes the project a bit of an underdog. But I treat each script and film as a fresh project, regardless of whether or not they are existing franchises.
What are the under lying messages of the film?
In these films there is always a struggle between good and evil, but this film is also very much about principles and morals. In particular, it is about never compromising on those values for the sake of a quick buck.
What is your favourite moment in the movie?
There are so many throughout the film. More than favourite, a special time for me was shooting in Varanasi as it was my first time there and I was fortunate to take a dip in the holy Ganga. Also I loved locking horns in court with the inimitable Annu Kapoor.
There’s not much action in the film, which is surprising to your fans. Did you miss it?
This one has verbal action. In this film, the action takes place inside the court. This film has word wars.
Were you upset by the cuts in the film ordered by the Bombay High Court?
Sometimes it happens that censors miss out on something. I know that once the censor board rules out a decision, the court follows that ... There are some cases, like 0.01 per cent that need further investigation by the court. I abide by the court's decision, and with what they have given.
You must be pleased with the incredible success you had in 2016?
Absolutely. I owe it all to my fans — they are the ones that keep me going and after 26 years I’m only here in the industry because of them. 2016 was definitely an interesting year from a creative perspective, as I had the chance to experiment with different genres and different roles, from playing characters based on true stories in Rustom and Airlift to a more comedic one in Housefull 3. Variety in the kind of roles I take always helps. It keeps me on my toes.
You have a great sense of humour on screen, but how jolly are you in real life?
Deadly serious … is not something to describe me. I’ve always been the joker of the pack, so it doesn’t take much acting to be Jolly. But to be Jolly in this film took a lot of understanding from my genius director Subhash Sir, it's his magical script that took years to perfect that had me gripped to play the man he perceived in his mind.