Monday, July 30, 2007

Akshaye is giving only 10% of his potential"-- Anil Kapoor

A great pic and a great interview. From Indian Express:

Let’s start from the beginning. How did Gandhi, My Father get rolling?

Anil: Feroz (Abbas Khan) and me go back a decade. He’s my brainstorming partner and someone whose opinion I seek. In fact I did my readings for Nayak with Feroz. I’ve seen all his plays like Tumhari Amrita, Saalgirah, Salesman Ramlal and Mahatma Vs Gandhi. The most striking aspect about Feroz’s plays is that they are successful both critically as well as commercially. I was more than happy to produce Gandhi, My Father since Feroz knows all the basics of direction. He knows how to choreograph a scene, how to extract performances from his actors and how to direct actors.

Akshaye: The latter is the most crucial. Great directors know when to direct an actor and when to keep quiet. It’s a tough situation to be in. You’ve cast the actors according to the role and then you’ve got to trust them to handle the role with sensitivity, you’ve got to let them do their job. But at the same time it is your vision so you’ve got to ensure that the actor translates that so you have to intervene. It takes integrity, depth and maturity to handle the situation.

Anil, if it’s such a fantastic script then weren’t you tempted to act in it. It would have been easy since you’ve also produced the film?

Anil: Exactly the reason I didn’t act in it. When I decided to turn an independent producer, I was very clear that I’m going to be completely truthful to the film. I was never tempted to act in it. I needed the best and I was more than convinced that Akshaye is the best choice to play the role of Harilal.

Akshaye: I must say that Anil has been extremely passionate about the film for a long time. I remember he once told me that he has something special for me and will come to me when he’s ready. After six months he called me and said that he’s sending Feroz over to my place with the script. I must confess that I was completely shocked when I read the script. I had no idea that Mahatma Gandhi shared such a turbulent relationship with his son, Harilal. That itself adds some excitement since we’re telling a true story for the first time. Of course, the responsibility also increases since you can’t take any chances with a true story.

So how did you approach the role, Akshaye?

Akshaye: I went with whatever Feroz—who is an authority on the subject—told me. He gave me books to read on Gandhi and also some letters that Gandhi had written to Harilal. He wanted me to get an idea of the man’s mind. Actually, the film required much more commitment on the part of Darshan Jariwala, who plays the role of Mahatma Gandhi.

Anil: I’ll have to agree with Akshaye since casting Gandhi was the most difficult thing. We did a lot of research and went through a bank of actors in India as well as abroad. Ultimately we zeroed in on Darshan with whom Feroz shared a comfort level since they have worked together. But Darshan had to lose 30 kilos only then could he resemble Gandhi physically. We made a diet and exercise plan for him. We also sent him for a 15-day course of Vipassna. He was made to listen to Gandhiji’s tapes so that he could get his dialect. We were very aware that Gandhi’s role would be keenly scrutinised since Ben Kingsley has already won an Oscar for it so the expectations are bound to be high.

Anil, was it easy to switch gears from acting to production?

Anil: See, I belong to a family of producers. My father and brother have been doing this all their life. You can say that I’m the rebel in the family. Till the late ’80s, being a producer was a thankless job, it entailed organising funds or stars for a project. But now, the job of a producer has become cooler. The generation has changed and so has the thinking. There is a positive revolution taking place in the Indian film industry right now. There are so many screens now, which have increased the requirement of content. We need producers to create that content. I feel it’s a great time to be a producer. Also even when I was acting, I used to thrive on putting together my film projects. You can say that my mindset is like that of a producer but I kept this to my chest. When finally I got the chance all of this just burst forth.

Akshaye: Anil is the best producer I’ve worked with. Let people see the film and judge what Anil has achieved. Let me not dilute his achievement. In the film business everyone thinks they know what production is all about but Anil has been honest enough to say that everyday on this film has been like a learning experience. It’s a highly skilled job that everyone can’t attempt. Moreover in the case of Gandhi, My Father, you really needed someone with great integrity and ability to understand the importance of the film and to take it to another level, which Anil has done fabulously.

But does the dynamics change when an actor becomes a producer, Anil, did you ever think that if you were in Akshaye’s place you would have done the scene differently?

Anil: It never happened. I was thinking like a producer and not like an actor. My obsession with Akshaye was that he should not put on weight. I used to take his food plate and run away. Akshaye, did you ever feel that I was judging you as an actor?

Akshaye: Never. And that’s because he never came on the sets.Anil: See I’m an actor myself, so I know that what actors go through. I didn’t want to stand on anybody’s head while they’re doing their job. I don’t like it if someone does that to me. I knew that my team is so responsible that they will give their best even if I’m not physically present on the sets.Akshaye: I think half his job was done by assembling such a great team. One thing about Anil I must tell you that he can see the big picture.

Are you glad about the timing of the film since it’s releasing after Lage Raho Munnabhai, which has made Gandhi more relevant and approachable for the younger generation?

Anil: Sure but otherwise also I think Gandhi has become more relevant because of all that is happening in the world especially in America. That said, I agree that the timing is just bang on for our film.

Akshaye: I agree that after Lage Raho Munnabhai the youth have rediscovered Gandhi but we can’t just give all the credit to the film. Personally, Gandhi, My Father, has brought me closer to Gandhi. I’ve read his Experiments with Truth. Also, I’ve got to know about Harilal, which has made my understanding of Gandhi even better. Did you know that Harilal spent nine years with Gandhi in South Africa where he went to jail 10 times? And that actually it was Harilal who introduced the concept of fasting in a South African jail because he felt the treatment of the authorities was biased towards non-Whites. Even Gandhi admitted that he was his right hand man in the movement against apartheid and he was called Chhota Gandhi.

Apparently shooting the film in Ahmedabad had lots of security concerns?

Akshaye: Yeah and that’s because the moment you tell the people of Gujarat that you’re making a film about Gandhi, their whole approach changes. The shooting has been very memorable.

Anil: It was tough to shoot in Ahmedabad but it was also the best schedule. We shot in some of the most sensitive areas in Ahmedabad where no film has been previously shot. We shot in 100-year-old structures, in real locations like Harilal’s house. The most difficult thing was to maintain silence since it’s a sync sound film. At any given point, there were 200 cops to maintain security.
Tell us something about each other that we don’t know?

Akshaye: Anil is probably the most patient person I’ve come across in my life. He has tremendous ability to wait watch even when he’s dying to say something. He is not impulsive at all and has great capacity to analyse and then react.

Anil: Akshaye is right because my family also tell me this. “Arrey kuch to react karo,” is their usual refrain. They says, I’m like an ostrich and at times they feel so frustrated that they want to shake me up. But I can’t help it. I like to think about things and act when the time is right.

Akshaye: I’m telling you Anil’s mind is like the digestive system. You know how the food first goes to the mouth, then the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and then the large intestine. Anil follows a similar process while thinking.

Anil (laughing): Enough about me, now it’s Akshaye’s turn. I think Akshaye is giving only 10 percent of his true potential both as an actor and as a looker. I feel completely frustrated with him and want to shake him up. He just wants to sleep and have food. He’s like a baby that way. He doesn’t realise how good he is. But I feel the time has come for Akshaye to take himself seriously and go all out.
Akshaye (nodding): I agree with you.Yeah well, maybe Gandhi, My Father, will do the trick.
"I think Akshaye is giving only 10 percent of his true potential both as an actor and as a looker. "
"He just wants to sleep and have food. He’s like a baby that way."
Well said, Anil! We think that he's been giving just 10% of his potential too.
I would love to have that job,to keep Akshaye from eating too much! Whew, what a great interview!


Anonymous said...

that's the real and interesting interview. i like it a lot. i have come to know a lot about akshaye khanna these days. hrithik roshan is my favourite and best actor...but, after seeing salaam-e-ishq, naqaab and the teasers of gandhi, my father...i'm sure i'll change my mind...akshaye khanna will now be my most favourite.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the food should be always definitely taken away from Akshaye Khanna. And, yes Akshaye Khanna has given only 15% of his true potential both as an actor and as a looker. Are Karan Johar, Mani Ratnam, Aditya Chopra and Sanjay Leela Bhansali LISTENING?? They must sign Akshaye Khanna immediately very very very soon.

Anonymous said...

Akshaye Khanna is a very intelligent guy. The way he describes his answer in words in this interview is simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

Why are the top banners are delaying to sign Akshaye Khanna??

Anonymous said...

Anil Kapoor says that Akshaye Khanna loves to sleep. Then, it's good. As, these days Akshaye Khanna's eyes seem tired. So, I advise Akshaye Khanna to sleep like baby. It's very important for any actor or actress as a part of beauty and health care.