After days of endless speculation, the verdict’s finally out! We are talking about the name of Rohan Sippy’s forthcoming film with Akshay Kumar that will see the ‘Khiladi’ back in action. The film – being directed by Nikhil Advani and produced by Rohan, Nikhil and Mukesh Talreja to be presented by Warner Brothers – that was tentatively titled Made In China has now been named Chandni Chowk to China at the insistence of the actor. The film – touted to be the first Bollywood film to be shot in China – is kind of autobiographical, as it traces the superstar’s rise from Chandni Chowk to superstardom. A source reveals, “Rohan and Akshay were both keen on different names. At the end of it, both want it to work in the favour of the film and had even had a sort of SMS poll conducted amongst the crew and cast. And everyone found Chandni Chowk to China more unique as against Made in China.” The shooting for the film that stars Deepika Padukone opposite the action king, will kickstart early this month and will be shot extensively in China and back in Delhi. Well, as long as the audience makes it from their ‘homes to theatres’ for this one… we’re sure Rohan’s not complaining!
Akshay Kumar is going places… that’s why there’s a virtual AK film festival happening everywhere these days. Now, soon at your nearest multiplex will be one of Akshay Kumar’s most expensive dances. Bhushan Kumar’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa, directed by South’s ace film-maker Priyadarshan has a special lavish song picturised on Akshay amidst sultry belles, a sports car, desert setting, wet beaches and a gigantic Buddha statue. And for this extravagant special title track, dancers were specially flown in from the UK to groove with Khiladi Kumar. Choreographed by Ganesh Acharya it was shot at different locations including Mumbai’s Film City and Aksa Beach. The title has Akshay sporting a totally cool look while crooning Hare Ram. “We can’t disclose the amount, but let me assure you, it’s one of the most expensive dances ever to be shot. We wanted to create something different and grand and that’s when along with my producers I stumbled upon this idea. Akshay has been given a cool new look,” says Priyadarshan.
There have been rumours about Akshay Kumar signing a number of films, including a sequel to his hit Khiladi, but Akshay Kumar himself is quite surprised at the news. “It’s not true. I am not doing a sequel to Khiladi. They’re only rumours,” says the Khiladi Kumar. What about the Hollywood films he is supposed to have signed, we ask. “I have not been approached for any Hollywood film, nor am I planning to do anything on those lines for the present.” Would he be interested in doing an action packed Hollywood film? “Why not, but it all depends on the script and the kind of film we’re talking about. As of now I’m doing only one action film, that is Nikhil Advani’s next which we will begin next year,” says Akshay. “I’ve not done an action film for seven to eight years, and I’m looking forward to it,” he says.
According to sources, last month after a furious altercation between him and his wife Twinkle over his alleged philandering, Khiladi Akshay checked into the JW Marriott, Juhu, for four days. “Yes, Akshay was staying with us and he was alone,” confirmed a hotel staff on condition of anonymity.
It is believed that Akshay’s alleged dalliance with a certain Bengali starlet is at the heart of the domestic dispute in which Twinkle is said to have given her husband an ultimatum to mend his ways.
“Twinkle got to know about this affair and was extremely upset about whatever was going on. She warned Akshay a couple of times, but he didn’t pay heed. She finally decided she had had emough.”
Says another source, “We often saw Akshay’s car stopping by at the actress’ place to pick her up, at odd hours. They were spotted together, sometimes even on the sets, where either one of them was shooting.”
When contacted, Akshay Kumar who is shooting in Ladakh for Yashraj Films’s Tashn, denied the whole story.
The script of Namastey London, starring Akshay Kumar has made it to the Oscar library, and basking in this glory is director Vipul Shah. When we got in touch with him, the man said, “It’s a great feeling. It’s amazing how one incident in Akshay’s life gave birth to a story idea which was then made into a film, and now finds itself in the most reputed library. I think life’s come full circle. Critics weren’t too kind to my film, but the results have said enough. This I consider to be a case of poetic justice.” Well, that’s Vipul’s ode to Namastey London!
Bollywood is going more than half way to meet Hollywood’s advances. With a spate of Indian actors being approached for Hollywood films, it’s now the turn of our desi Khiladi Kumar to romance a Hollywood actress. Rumour has it that Akshay Kumar could be teamed up with actress Salma Hayek in Carving Dreams Entertainment’s project with Hollywood Studios International. Although the two companies aren’t revealing much about the film, a source tells us, “Irrfan Khan too has been approached for the film and this one will be a Hollywood-Bollywood co-production. “The two companies have signed a $100 million (Rs 400 crore approximately) deal to produce five films over the next two to three years.
Announcing the deal, Bunty Bahl, Director, Carving Dreams Entertainment, said, “This association gives us the opportunity to not only create movies for global audiences, but also provide a platform to showcase Indian talent internationally through these film projects.” Steven Saxton, CEO, Hollywood Studios International, further added, “The Indian film industry is going through an explosive growth phase. This venture extends an amazing opportunity to produce great movies with a venerable partner, and then to have those movies reach an extensive audience.” With such huge budgets, Bollywood is certainly going international.
Over the years Akshay Kumar has earned the tag of being ‘a far cry from a designer’s delight’. The actor is known for sticking to the tried and the tested and is famous for not being too fond of experimenting with his looks. However, Akshay’s new designer Sabina Khan is hell-bent on giving him an image makeover. His new look has a short crop with dark brown highlights, which is a welcome change from his usual boy-next-door look. Sceptics, however, continue to say that he has heavily borrowed the look from popstar Justin Timberlake.
Says Sabina Khan, “Akshay often dismisses my ideas saying they are ‘rubbish’, But I’m also extremely stubborn. This time around when we were preparing the costumes for his IIFA (International Indian Film Awards) act, Akshay had some other costume in mind. But I tailored two sets of clothes for him. And before taking the stage he quickly slipped into the one I had recommended.”
Salman Khan, who has worked with Sabina for over a decade, had recommended her name to Akshay. The duo had worked together for an ad campaign and eventually, Sabina also designed Akshay’s costumes in Namastey London. In spite of hating it, Akshay sported bright pink and lime green Pathani suits.
Adds Sabina, “It has been difficult but I did manage to get him to wear these bright colours.”
Sabina further informs that their meetings often lead to arguments. She says, “We argue a lot and that’s nicest part I guess. Even he gets a lot of references before coming for the meeting. I had asked him to go with the short crop and the stubbled look.”
Sabina will design the actor’s clothes in Vipul Shah’s film Singh is King. Adds Sabina, “He plays this modern day sardar and we are giving him a very interesting look with designer pagdis. As for clothes, Akshay can carry off almost anything.”
Did you walk out of Rituparno Ghosh’s Rahgeer, as alleged?
This is news to me. In my knowledge, I am doing the film and this is not the first script that Ritu has narrated to me. Ritu wanted to start the film early this month, but I had prior commitments. I will have to complete the shooting of Sajid Nadiadwala’s Jaaneman first. Besides, my co-star Vidya Balan is busy with Mani Ratnam’s Guru. Once we both are free we will get started on Rahgeer.
When you opted out of Deepa Mehta’s Water, did you recommend John Abraham’s name for the role?
I don’t believe in recommendations. Deepa was on the look-out for an actor. Having read the script I thought John would suit the role. People who have seen the film believe this has been one of John’s best performance so far. I am happy for him.
Do you discuss work with your wife Twinkle?
Not really. We have more important issues to discuss at home. It becomes really boring when you keep discussing work. You need to understand that even I have a life beyond cinema. Besides, Tina is a levelheaded person and a successful businesswoman and a very busy person herself.
Is it true that you attend ‘open days’ at Aarav’s school?
Yes I do. The last time I visited Aarav’s school his teacher complained that he tried to drown someone. But jokes apart, he is a well-behaved kid. I have tried to indulge him in every way possible without spoiling him.
In spite of being a commercial success, Phir Hera Pheri has been panned by critics
Personally, I did Phir Hera Pheri because I wanted to work with Feroz Nadiadala and Paresh Rawal. It’s a decision that I do not regret since working with Paresh was a learning experience. As far as reviews are concerned, it’s a democratic country where one has the right to voice his/her opinion.
You have been accused of chopping Suneil Shetty’s role in the film again
I would not like to comment on this issue.
Recently, you were linked with tennis star Sania Mirza
Oh no! These rumours are really odd. I have met Sania just once and that too at a public event. So, where did this story originate from? I am clueless!
Akshay Kumar says that his choice of films are driven by the script and the director “Growth is constant. There’s still a long time ahead for me and lots of opportunities to grow more. I’m looking forward to being versatile in my choice of roles and performances.”
Six years ago Akshay Kumar lured his two friends Paresh Rawal and Suniel Shetty into playing a game that would fetch them lakhs overnight. While the transit from broke and bankrupt to lakhpatis wasn’t without struggle, Hera Pheri went on to become a runaway hit. This Friday, the three return for an encore in Phir Hera Pheri, one of the most eagerlyawaited sequels of the year. One catches up with the ‘Khiladi’ Kumar for a quick chat about his forthcoming release.
“Phir Hera Pheri wouldn’t be complete without Raju, Baburao and Shyam,” he begins, adding, “All three of them were essential for the script to come into existence, which starts off from where Hera Pheri ends – where they win the cash reward.” Does that change his Raju as a person? “Not really, but just as in Hera Pheri, Raju is instrumental in taking the script forward. He first talks to them about investing their money wisely and earning immense returns from it.
Initially, Baburao and Shyam are sceptical about his idea, but they soon give in to his convincing reasoning. Raju is the driving factor in the film because he’s the one thinking of ideas for making money, whether by fair means or by cheating. The film should be seen as a medi um of entertainment; though in real life there are people who make money by hera pheri. Raju is basically a very lovable guy.” Having been lauded for his performance in most of his comic roles in re cent times, Kumar seems to have bid adieu to action. “There’s nothing like that. Earlier when I did action films, people used to say that I’m not experimenting and that I’m sticking to just one kind of roles. Now when I’m doing a good number of comedies, people are saying the same thing. I’ve done a lot of romantic films too. There’s never been any pressure to do different films just for the sake of it. My doing a film depends on the director, script and the kind of role I’m playing.” According to some of his contemporaries, Kumar’s grown a lot as an actor.
“Growth is constant. There’s still a long time ahead for me and lots of opportunities to grow more. I’m looking forward to being versatile in my choice of roles and performances.” While Phir Hera Pheri hasn’t yet released, there’s already talk of the makers running a contest for its sequel. “It depends on how this film fares at the box office,” he replies.
On a final note, question him about the changes fa therhood has brought about in him and he says, “It’s something that happens to every person during his life. One thinks and acts in a more mature, sensible and responsible manner. One tends to think and act keeping his kids and family in mind.”