x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Akshay Kumar on his latest Bollywood film Holiday

Akshay Kumar says his new drama, Holiday, is a hard-hitting take on terrorism that's unlike any other Bollywood film.

Akshay Kumar plays an army intelligence officer in Holiday. Matt Carr / Getty Images / AFP
Akshay Kumar plays an army intelligence officer in Holiday. Matt Carr / Getty Images / AFP

Akshay Kumar tells us his new drama, Holiday, is a hard-hitting take on terrorism that’s unlike any other Bollywood film out there.

Can you tell us a little bit about the movie Holiday?

Our director, the legend himself, [A R ] Murugadoss, has created a story that will have you looking over your shoulder as you leave the cinema. The film is thought-provoking and very relevant to this day and age.

Your co-star Sonakshi Sinha plays a boxer. Did she come to you for fitness or training tips?

No, Sonakshi did it all by herself. As a martial arts and fitness enthusiast, I must admit that she did a great job – and achieved a good right hook. I’ve always helped guide her with training techniques, but she’s the type of person who needs to do things on her own terms.

You’ve worked in five films with Sinha. How has it been?

Sonakshi has a great approach to her work, which makes it easy and enjoyable for everyone around her.

How was it on sets with A R Murugadoss?

Murugadoss is definitely a man of many ideas. He has the mind of a deadly viper, I swear, but he is quite gentle when he isn’t thinking up a terrorist plot. He is a visionary director and has handled the subject sensibly and with a lot of thought and grace.

The movie is a remake of the 2012 Tamil blockbuster Thuppakki. Will the Hindi version be true to the original?

What a lot of people don’t realise is that I signed the film before the Tamil version was even made. Because of my dates, the director asked if he could make the Tamil version first.

In the film you portray an officer from India’s Defence Intelligence Agency. What sort of research was required to prepare for the role?

This film promotes patriotism; it is all about my character’s great love of his home city, Mumbai. We had to do a lot of research because it is not your typical Bollywood film. Sleeper cells are interesting – they can be used by special forces to protect the city or they can be used by terrorists to destroy it. But I didn’t consider it as research, more of an opportunity to open my eyes to any suspicious activity. It was brilliant, in all honesty.

With your background in martial arts, do you prefer doing action films?

This is what I love about acting most – the versatility. I have been lucky to be able to play various roles during my acting career, but my smile is at its biggest when I’m in action mode.

Was there any challenging sequence or an action scene that you enjoyed shooting the most?

We had one of the best stunt teams in the world. The well-known British stuntman and action director Greg Powell and his trusty team of talented ninjas, as I call them, were awesome to work with. They taught me things that people in Bollywood take for granted – how to hold a gun correctly, for instance. My favourite scene is the underground fight sequence in a deserted kitchen. It was so raw and unbelievably real. I was battered, but enjoyed every bit of it.

Can you tell us about your look in the movie?

I play a no-nonsense army intelligence officer. But there’s a lot more to him than that. The film does a good job of showcasing the character’s flaws. This leads my character into some pretty tense situations.

What other movies of yours are scheduled for release this year?

It’s Entertainment is out on August 8; the films Baby and Gabbar will be released early next year.

Will Baby be filmed in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, it will be shot in Abu Dhabi. I adore Abu Dhabi and Dubai – it’s home away from home. I love the people, the cultural sites, the sports, the food and the weather. I can’t wait to come back again soon. It’s gonna be hot, but nothing will get in the way of Baby.

Holiday is out in UAE cinemas on June 5

aahmed@thenational.ae