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‘I felt brain-dead doing action films’- Cinema express

‘I felt brain-dead doing action films’

Akshay Kumar, who’s gearing up for the release of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, wants everybody to realise that sanitation isn’t just a rural issue

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha must not have been a story an urban person like you could relate to. 

That’s where you are wrong. We seem to think that open defecation is a rural issue. But the fact is, those in cities are affected by it too. Diseases spread a lot faster in cities, and we also fall sick faster. It is one of the worst problems in cities. I read up on this and found that 54 per cent of the country’s population has no access to toilets. This is a huge problem.

A superstar talking about toilets in his film. Could this have happened earlier?
Let me just say that we don’t have subjects available like this. Earlier, it was tough to get content like this.
 
Was lack of content the issue? Perhaps stars weren’t accepting of such content?
Forget about the stars. The audience is now more open to watching these films.
 
The audience gets to make a choice only if the films are made, no?
Over the years, many different subjects have been tried. Kayee logon ne koshish kiya hai. Those films didn’t do well. Now perhaps because of the influence of the social media, the audience is lapping up all types of stories.
 
Did you try to do such films?
It’s all about luck. I did try to make such choices earlier, but they just wouldn’t work. But all said, I think this phase will also change. The audience will get bored of what is happening now. Each phase lasts for about two to three years. That’s why you have to keep exploring new things.

For an actor, staying relevant must be a huge challenge.
It is. Initially, when I started, I got pigeonholed into the action image. It was mind-numbing to come to the sets every day and begin punching and kicking. I felt brain-dead. It was all my fault. I was doing things just for the heck of it.  I didn’t enjoy doing it. But now, I am not after an image. I am after nothing specific. I want everything.
 
But would you say you didn’t have too much choice during that part of your career?
You’re right. Beggars can’t be choosers. I wasn’t a producer then. Now, I am. So I can do what I like. I think success is 70 per cent luck and 30 per cent hardwork.

That’s a whole lot of luck needed then.
I see people who are more talented, more attractive than me, toiling through their lives. Some films were hated by everybody, but they worked at the box office. (Laughs) It’s all about luck. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. But some hard work is definitely essential. The rest, god takes care of.

Given the growing popularity of South Indian films and Hollywood films, is it time Bollywood thought again about its films?
I look at it like this. Films that work across the country deserve to be successful. Where these films come from, doesn’t matter.

Let’s talk about Dangal. I loved the film. I think it’s one of Aamir’s best. Do you remember the climax scene? The girl is in the fight of her life. But Aamir is stuck in that room. He didn’t mind not being in the thick of the action. I thought it was such an intelligent move. As stars, we must know when to back out.

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