Thursday, August 2, 2007

Akshaye's interview


Akshaye Khanna is all set for his new release ‘Gandhi My Father. TIMES NOW's Naomi Datta caught up with Akshaye as he talks about the challenges he faced in his latest role, his career and dealing with the media.

Naomi: Akshaye, when you first got the script of ‘Gandhi My Father’, what was your first reaction, your gut reaction. Were there any reservations at all?

Akshaye: No, No reservations whatsoever. I reacted to it on many different levels; the first being that the surprise element of the fact that this actually happened. Its a true story, which is also what makes it for us as a team so exciting that for the first time, this true story is being told. It was so beautifully written, lovely, emotional, intimate story between father and son and then I reacted to the role, the quality of the role. It's so difficult to come by such roles as an actor. It comes very rarely. So there was no question of not doing it. It was more like when do we start.
Naomi: As an actor, do you have to like a character to play it, to play him well, to empathise with him? Because whatever little I know of Harilal Gandhi, he was someone for whom there was no redemption. He kept making these series of mistakes.

Akshaye: He was a very unfortunate character and there is this scene in the film where Kasturba Gandhi is on her deathbed and she asks Gandhi what was going to happen to Harilal after she was gone. She tells Bapu, ‘he's not bad, he's just unfortunate’. That really says everything about Harilal; he was not a bad man, he was unfortunate and someone who tried his best. He gave life his best shot but it didn’t work out for him.

Naomi: As an actor, it's very cliched to say this, but is this one of your most challenging roles?

Akshaye: It is. It is the most challenging role that I have ever done in my career, not only because I’m playing a real life character, not only because it's Gandhi's son, but because of his life, what he went through- the range of emotions, the range of situations that he actually went through.

Naomi: When you play a historical character, is it just another character or do you have to get the homework just right?

Akshaye: You see, homework definitely; but the fact remains that there is very little material on Harilal Gandhi. He's not a very well documented character. There's just one book written about him by Chandulal Dalal on which we have based the film but really I got a real sense of Harilal from the letters that he had written to Mahatma Gandhi and to his mother. He is a character that has been erased from history and a character that nobody knows anything about. No one knows about how he looked like, how he talked, how he walked. In that sense, my job was much easier than Darshan’s (who plays the Mahatma) or Shefali’s (who plays Kasturba) because the physicality of the character was not something that was important. Through the letters, I got my lead and then I just went with the script.

Naomi: Was it emotionally taxing because, like you said, it goes through a range?

Akshaye: Yes, it is one of those films that when you are shooting for, at the end of the day you feel tired because every scene takes something from you. You literally feel that you have given something. It's taken a lot from every actor.

Naomi: It's also a great film to be making from the point of view of the producer and as the actor because it is not something that guarantees you a blockbuster opening?

Akshaye: But in our minds, especially Anil, Feroz and myself, we've never approached this film as a niche film. We look at it as a mainstream film.

Naomi: It's a very different film. How much do you think the success of a film like ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ helps a film like ‘Gandhi my Father’?

Akshaye: Munnabhai was a beautiful film, it was a fantastic film and it presented Gandhi as a very…

Naomi: Cool dude manner!

Akshaye: Yes, cool! Very refreshing Gandhi. We are just showing a different side of Gandhi that no one has ever seen before; so in that sense it's a very fresh look at Gandhi.

Naomi: You have ‘Gandhi My Father’ coming up and then there is ‘Naqaab’ which released about two weeks back. Is ‘Naqaab’ a more regulation, bread and butter, commercial film as opposed to this which is a different experience?

Akshaye: I have never really categorised my films. I mean my work is my bread and butter so in that sense, I don't take any of my films lightly.

Naomi: But some take more out of you.

Akshaye: Some take more out of you emotionally, in terms of time. Some are more difficult films to make, because of the nature of the story so this was a period film and also it was about Gandhi so you have to be doubly careful that you have your facts bang on. So in that sense, there was a lot of work that went into it.

Naomi: Whether it's ‘Gandhi My Father’ or ‘Naqaab’ or ‘Salaam E Ishq’, when you take on these movies, is it purely on the script?

Akshaye: Yes, but then you also have to see the director, who is the person you are going to be following, interacting with and you have to get along and be somewhere on the same wavelength and have an understanding with your director.

Naomi: And a track record of box office success?

Akshaye: Yes, success is very important because you enjoy working with each other. If you keep churning out flops, it's difficult to sustain that relationship.

Naomi: You've always said that marketing is not important for an actor, do you believe that?

Akshaye: First of all, I never said that. But for me, I am not a great subscriber to being in the news all the time for reasons that are not very important. I am not a very good PR person. It's just not one of my strengths, so I struggle with that but do I feel it is unimportant? No!

Naomi: So are you doing anything to brush up on that?

Akshaye: Yes, I try my best to do as much as I can, to interact with the press as much as I can especially at the time of my releases of my films. I try. I am not always good at it or successful, but I try.

Naomi: You are doing pretty well for yourself and thank you so much.Akshaye: Thank you.

See, I told you. The difference in this and other interviews is palpable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Akshaye Khanna is really a honest guy. He doesn't pretend. He is very frank. That's what I like about him.