Even though he is the proverbial ‘star-son’, he has achieved whatever he has, on his own merit. Even though his debut film gave Bollywood its answer to Tom Cruise, he is yet to make it to the ‘Numero Uno‘ slot, something that he makes no qualms about. He is none other than the suave and sexy Akshaye Khanna, whose sex appeal lies in his smile, a fact that will be ‘justified’ by million of fans worldwide.
After having garnered rave reviews and critical acclaim in his last film Gandhi My Father, this debonair man is back. This time with a comic caper called Short Kut – The Con Is On. Bollywood Hungama caught up with this actor for an exclusive interview. Excerpts of the same:
Akshaye, to start with, why such a long gap from Mere Baap Pehle Aap to now Short Kut – The Con Is On? Was it intentional to stay out of the media glare or did it just happen?
Basically, the film business is not about any one person’s schedule. It’s about lots of people coming together, which only means that it’s not in your hands to control the number of releases that you have in your hands. It’s not the case with just one actor, it happens with most of the actors.
To top it all, the recession factor has affected the film industry in a very bad way. As you know, there are so many films in the last 6-7 months have either been shut down or have been postponed. Even a couple of films of mine which were supposed to start at the beginning of this year, have been scrapped due to various reasons. I myself have not faced the camera for almost 6 months now!
Short Kut The Con Is On is essentially a slice of life kind of film
What is Short Kut – The Con… all about? And what’s your role in it?
Short Kut – The Con Is On is essentially a slice of life kind of film, based on essentially two characters. There are times in life when we have to choose between two routes. One of which is a shortcut- the easy way, while the other requires more efforts and struggles. The film’s characters also face the same dilemma.
One is Raju (played by Arshad Warsi), who is playing a struggling actor and who wants to become a star. He bluffs his way out of trouble and comes across as a good for nothing harmless fellow. Arshad, who is majorly known for his out and out comedy, brings out a dark edginess to this loud mouthed character. On the other hand, I play Shekhar, a struggling writer-director, who has been an assistant director for years and hopes to make it big one day, like anybody else does. I have this quiet yet intense, immensely talented yet low key kind of role. Shekhar’s value system is sound and his fundas in life are very clear – come what may, there are no short cuts to success. And if you have a dream, protect it.
One of the main reasons for me to say yes to this film was the fact that it was being written by Anees Bazmee and Neeraj Vora, two of the best writers in Bollywood
As for the film, it is set against Bollywood as its backdrop. And the Bollywood factor is very integral to the script because the characters are from the film industry. The film is basically about the choices that one often has to make in life, be it in work or even relationships. The film is treated in a fun and entertaining manner and is not at all a serious film, by any stretch of imagination. How these two characters go about achieving their goals and ambitions in a fun way is what the film is all about.
You are one actor who is not known for rushing into things and signing the dotted lines. So, what was it so exceptional about Short Kut that made you sign the film?
Let’s not use the word ‘exceptional’ or any such superlatives. It’s always the script that has drawn me towards it. You just can’t have a great script but a lousy director or is being produced by someone who is not capable of releasing the film. These are also important issues. But, as I told earlier, for me, it’s the script that comes first, then the role, followed by many other factors.
I think that people will love and remember Arshad for his role in Short Kut.
As far as Short Kut is concerned, it was definitely the script, followed by my role. Also, one of the main reasons for me to say yes to this film was the fact that it was being written by Anees Bazmee and Neeraj Vora, two of the best writers in the industry in the genre of ‘masala’ films and comedy. It was an exceptional opportunity for anybody associated with this film as these two names were coming together for the first time. It’s also very difficult for such a thing to happen again.
You have the Master comedian Arshad Warsi as your co-star in Short Kut. How was it working with him?
If you take his filmography, then, one would say that he would always be remembered for his role of ‘Circuit’. But, in my opinion, the role that he has done in Short Kut is at par with that of his role of ‘Circuit’. And I think that people will love and remember him in this film.
Amrita Rao is a very lovely and a hard working girl, whom I would call as ‘original actress’
Akshaye, you are known more for your serious roles. Was it easy or difficult to match up to the antics of Arshad?
Not at all. Actually, the fact remains that working with actors who are the best at what they are always is a plus point to those who are working with them. It just does not ‘take’ away anything from you, on the contrary it ‘gives’ something which a bad or inexperienced actor will never give. Arshad is definitely someone to watch out for in this film.
In Short Kut, you have been paired opposite Amrita Rao. How is she as a co-star and how has been your equation with her?
She is a very lovely and a hard working girl. What I like about her is that she doesn’t try to copy anybody or be somebody else. She is someone whom I would call as an ‘original actress’ and essentially a very sweet girl to work with. In other words, she is very simple and not at all complicated.
Amrita has always carried the ‘girl next door’ image with her. If the promos of Short Kut are anything to go by, then, it seems that she has moved notches ahead to drop this image. What’s your take on the same?
I know that this is the first film in which she has been glamorized and shown in a very different way like never before. She has done it really well. She has worked really hard. I enjoyed every moment of me working with her and am looking forward to work with her in the future too. I think that she has got a great future.
How has the music of the film evolved? Which is your favorite track from the film and for what reasons?
I am a huge fan of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy ever since I ‘discovered’ their music in Dil Chahta Hai. Ever since, every track of theirs was a masterpiece for me, be it Salaam-E-Ishq, Kal Ho Na Ho, Lakshya. All of their albums were outstanding. And as far as the music of Short Kut is concerned, I don’t think that any of their fans will be even remotely disappointed with it. They have really given us an exceptionally rich album. Like most of their albums, this album too, I feel will stay fresh for a long time.
And my favourite track in the film is the romantic ‘Kal Nau Naje‘ that has been picturised on me and Amrita. It’s a beautiful melody and I think that its one of the best songs that I have been fortunate to have in my career.
In real life, you have always been a ‘mover and shaker’. But how much of a Short Kut‘s Shekhar are you?
Frankly speaking, I do not identify with any of my characters in any of my films.
What are the locations the film has been shot?
The film has been shot primarily in Mumbai and one stint in Thailand.
Any memorable incidents while shooting the film?
Whatever kind of film, be it comedy or action, it’s a serious business, which means pure hard work and concentration. Which is why, the entire filmmaking experience becomes a memorable incident in itself.
The entire filmmaking experience becomes a memorable incident in itself
Have you, at any point in life, taken any ‘Short-Kuts’ to success?
Not that I can think of, especially in the kind of business that I am in. Taking shortcuts is suicidal. That’s why I can clearly say that I have never taken any shortcuts to success, even though lots of people feel that star-sons always have a natural short-cut into Bollywood. This is a notion that prevails in majority of the public’s minds, something that just cannot be changed.
To all such people, I have time and again, cited the example of a carpenter who wants his son to become a carpenter too. In such cases, all that he can do is to present his son with his set of tools and clients. At the end of the day, ‘only’ if the son makes proper utilization of these ‘inheritances’, can his business survive, else, the business will be doomed. The same applies for star-sons too!
Taking shortcuts in my profession is suicidal
What’s your take on the multiplexes issue that had got the entire industry to standstill? Do you feel that this could have been avoided?
It’s very difficult for me to comment on this issue as I have not been following the intricacies of this debate closely, whatever arguments they had to sort out between them. So, I am not in a position to give an accurate comment in the same.
Have you been approached for Qurbani‘s remake?
No. I haven’t been.
I haven’t been approached for Qurbani‘s remake
Despite the number of years in the industry, you still have to make it to the top slot. What’s your take on that?
I believe that everybody has got their own destiny. And, as an actor, one tries to do the best in every film and in whatever way possible. And then it’s up to God, the audiences and one’s destiny what happens after that!
Are there any surprise elements (cameos) that will surprise the audiences in Short Kut?
As the promos depict, all the characters of this film have been revealed. All in all, it’s a very transparent film.
Lastly, what is the status of your forthcoming films?
I will be starting Anees Bazmee’s No Problems next month, which should be out early next year. Then, there’s an untitled film with Priyadarshan which has me and Ajay Devgan in it and is being produced by Ajay himself.