x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bollywood's 'Thank You' marries comedy and reality

Slapstick film about infidelity tells story of 'every third home', says actor Akshay Kumar, who visited the UAE to promote his film.

A scene from the film being shot in the desert east of Dubai.
A scene from the film being shot in the desert east of Dubai.

DUBAI // The Indian actor Akshay Kumar was in the UAE recently to promote his new comedy film that pokes fun at married life.

The narrative of Thank You, a Hindi-language film, centres on three friends who cheat on their wives while professing their everlasting love for them.

"I think it's a very important subject for women and men," said Kumar, 43, who was in Dubai ahead of the April 7 release. "We show how strong women are. We speak about how they should face such situations and come out winners."

He plays a marriage counsellor bent on sounding the alarm to trusting wives and goading them to confront their straying husbands. Just how the wives respond forms the plot of the comic caper with the tag line "Husbands will be sorry, wives will say 'thank you'."

Though Kumar, one of Bollywood's top actors, is best known for action films, he has carved out a niche in slapstick comedies, appearing in a dozen of them in a career that includes over 90 films.

"People want to be entertained, they want to laugh when they leave the theatre and I want to see them smile," he said, adding he still loves the action genre. While films about infidelity are not new to Bollywood, Kumar hopes the film's bluntness will engage audiences.

"What is wrong with showing what reality is all about?" he said. "We are not in the Stone Age and this is something that does happen. In fact, there is a line in the film that goes 'Yeh har teesre ghar ki kahani hain' ['This is the story of every third home']."

The film features Irrfan Khan, as well as Bobby Deol and Suniel Shetty. The new generation is represented by Sonam Kapoor, 25, who has shot just four films.

"It's been a great learning ground to have so many strong actors around me," said Kapoor, the daughter of the veteran actor Anil Kapoor. She plays Deol's wife, who is confused to find chemistry develop with Kumar's character.

"It's about a woman searching for the truth who figures out she is worth more than what she is getting in life," said Kapoor.

"Personally I think it depends on the situation and the man. If he is truly a jerk, I'd say 'just leave'. Stay if you think it's worth it, if he is worth taking a chance on."

Dubai is a popular launch pad for Bollywood films because of its large Asian community. It has featured in numerous Indian projects, including Kumar's early films. He said he plans to shoot his next film in the emirate next year but declined to provide details.

However, Bollywood fans are often disappointed by the industry's promotional events. Kumar fans were thrilled to see him but said it was not worth the four-hour wait at a desert campsite. The actors turned up at 11pm, too late to participate in a film promotion with a Dubai-based couple who renewed their marriage vows.

"We were all excited about coming close to a star, that was the cherry on the cake," said Akash Khanna, who won the contest to have the renewal staged in a specially created venue. "People felt bad that the stars were on stage for only 15 minutes after a very long wait. People just wanted to shake his hand and meet him."

rtalwar@thenational.ae