He is the only superstar who has the most outings each year. His prolific role as an actor corresponds to his profitability at the counters. Akshay Kumar shares an excellent relationship with the box office. The two never give up. If Kesari has collected more than 150 crores, Mission Mangal has soared to more than 193 crores. But his latest release, Housefull 4, brought a bittersweet vibe. While he continued to earn around 180 crores in India, it was alleged that the figures were inflated. Critical bashing never bothered Akshay. But this time, the allegations of data falsification and the two contradictory hashtags in vogue on Twitter – “#Fake Housefull Figures” and “#Paid Negativity on HF4” – forced him to react. And to react, he did it like a real khiladi. Without losing his composure. With grace. Because Akshay always has the last laugh. The next Good Newwz will complete its assured quartet of films and will probably end the year on a winning note …
While part of the audience appreciated Housefull 4, the hashtag # FakeHousefull4numbers was in vogue on social networks. Did it bother you?
It does not bother me. I did not give these figures na. Fox Star Studios has enormous credibility. It is a Los Angeles-based company. They make international films worth millions of dollars. Increasing the numbers by a few crores will make no difference to them. So let’s talk about meaning. When they mention the numbers on their own handle, they don’t have to lie about anything. In addition, Inox (multiplex chain) explained the calculations. They will not lie. They are not related to me. The heads of all the theater chains spoke. Why would they lie?
Did the allegations upset you?
Do I look upset? These things don’t bother me. I’m like jisne saari umar kai logon ki baatein suni hai lekin kabhi kuchh bola nahi (all my life I’ve heard people talk but I never said anything in retaliation). I don’t want to say anything because I was taught at school very early: “Take care of your business!”
Why was there so much negativity around the film?
Those who wrote the negative things could say why. Toh principal unke ghar gaya nahi kabhi. People can say what they want. People can keep talking. Whatever. What matters are the box office figures. They speak alone.
Housefull 4 is your 11th consecutive move from Airlift. However, some sections ask you …
I do not know. I just know that I have signed my next four films. Having a job is important. Your business is up and running. It is important. I still have three films in preparation, to which I must give my green light. (Smiles) So I think I’m doing pretty well.
Your films are critically tested. Either way, they’re raking in the numbers…
I respect the critics. It is important to have reviews for honest feedback. In addition, comedy is subjective. What you love the other may not be. My kind of humor is different from that of my wife (Twinkle Khanna). Opinions vary. Likewise, the position of one critic may differ from that of the other. Especially when it comes to comedy.
What was Twinkle’s reaction to Housefull 4?
(Laughs) She didn’t watch it.
A Housefull 4 character simulating a pregnancy says: “Main abla hoon tabla nahin!” This has been dissected by certain sections…
Yes, you’re right. It may not have worked well. The writer has to take care of these things. I may not be there when certain scenes are shot. So I may not know them.
Housefull 2 had two directors – Sajid Khan and Farhad Samji. How was the experience?
I know them both well. I also worked with them earlier. It was not that difficult to work with a new director overnight. Farhad wrote the story. He was therefore aware of the plot. The star distribution was also easily adapted.
Is it difficult to make a comedy?
It is difficult to be humorous when you have to rely solely on physical comedy and keep logic at bay. Only Charlie Chaplin could do it. Without dialogue, he could make people laugh. Or even Laurel And Hardy. We grew up watching them. An actor can create a dialogue and make people laugh. But making people laugh without words is the most difficult.
Do you think comedy as a genre has been overlooked?
I have been trying to find the answer to this for 30 years. I still don’t have one. Everyone thinks that comedy is easy. Ask anyone in Hollywood and they will tell you that comedy is the most difficult genre.
You seem to have a talent for comedy …
I don’t take applause seriously. I want to continue making different types of films. I made Housefull 4 after almost three years. I want to keep skipping genres. The requests on social networks are varied: “Ek Hera Pheri kariye na”, “Sir romance kariye”. Some say “Namastey London kariye”… So people have different expectations from me. You don’t have to take a particular genre seriously, a mistake I made early in my career.
I continued to make action films. You shouldn’t be bored with your work. Imagine if you were to interview only me, you would die of boredom. (Laughter) You would say, “Issko maar do”. We love the variety.
Your transformation from action movies to the comic genre… was it a planned process?
It is not a considered method. I’m just going with the flow. I did not go to any theater school. I simply add what I have gained from my own experiences. As just after the release of Mission Mangal, I started shooting for Laxmmi Bomb. After giving interviews on the character of a scientist, I jumped into another film. You make a complete U-turn. I tend to hold the director’s hand because he knows the film a thousand times better than I do. He’s driving me and that’s why he called the captain of the ship. (Laughs) You can only pray that this ship doesn’t turn out to be a Titanic.
What were your outstanding films?
Some such as Sangharsh (Tanuja Chandra, 2000), Jaanwar (Suneel Darshan, 1999) and Hera Pheri (Priyadarshan, 2000). Priyadarshan saab, Raj Kumar Santoshiji (Khakee, 2004) late Neeraj Vohra (Phir Hera Pheri, 2006)… these three people greatly contributed to making me realize that I could try different genres and shape myself as an actor.
On average, you deliver four hits in a year. Are you still confident in the choices you make as an actor?
No, I’m not sure about you.
My team knows how scared I am before an outing. You work hard for months. You have to ask yourself if the audience / critics will like your film. Gharwalon ka alag tension hota hai, whether they like it or not. You have to manage the stress of public relations, the tension of the studio … To release a film, a person must go through countless tensions. Good Newwz will be available soon. I will still experience the same stress…