A piece of the action

The Bollywood star Akshay Kumar talks about his latest action comedy and his rags-to-riches story. Watch the trailer here.

Akshay Kumar arrives via jet ski to a yacht specially chartered for the press conference launch of his new movie release titled BOSS. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Everything Akshay Kumar does is larger than life. His grand entrance at his latest film Boss’s press conference aboard a yacht was no exception. With the yacht already on the water and no sign of the superstar being on board, there was a moment when everyone thought this just might be one of those “sorry, he couldn’t make it” occasions. But we couldn’t have been more wrong. The title track of the film blared out from the speakers and he suddenly appeared, circling the yacht on a jet ski. After a couple of loops around the yacht, he parked the jet ski on the side and came aboard.

“I really wanted to go faster, but I couldn’t,” he confessed. “I think you guys have some kind of a speed limit in these waters!”

A humble charm belies everything you would expect from an actor with a 23-year acting career comprising 125 films – with a combined collection of almost US$310 million (Dh1.14bn) at the box office.

In his latest film, out on Friday in the UAE, he plays a gangster who goes by the name of Boss, which also happens to be the title of the thriller.

Can you tell us a little bit about your character in the film?

I play a gangster from Haryana – Boss. He is a larger than life, extremely colourful character. This is an out-and-out action film, but the character of Boss brings a real fun element to it. Every character brings its own identity. I was excited about playing a Haryanvi character because it’s not something I have done before. I like to reinvent myself and such a great character and such a great story was the perfect opportunity for me to do that.

You’re known as an action hero and stunts have kind of become your trademark. Last year alone you had Rowdy Rathore and Khiladi 786. Why so many of these films?

They always work, don’t they? If that’s what the audience wants to see, then why not? The audience loves seeing me in these kinds of roles.

Let’s talk about the action sequences in Boss. There has been a lot of publicity around the fact that there are more than 12 major action sequences and a lot of hand-to-hand combat. Tell us about the action bits.

The hand-to-hand combat in this film works really well because it’s so raw and realistic. It doesn’t look over the top. There is a lot of really well-choreographed, very realistic-looking combat and there are a lot of amazing action sequences. This is a different type of action movie that has a unique style. Every action sequence is designed differently. A strong action backdrop was needed to drive a powerful story forward.

You are known for doing almost all of your own stunts. Where do you draw the line?

To tell you the truth, even if you ask me to jump out of a helicopter, I will do it. This kind of thing doesn’t make me nervous. After years of working on such sequences, there is a very small chance of something going wrong. I would probably be more worried about jumping off a tiny stool: you can injure yourself more severely and break many more bones jumping off a stool than out of a helicopter.

The music in the film is sensational. Which is your favourite song?

Yes, all the songs are simply superb. But the one that is closest to my heart is Pitaah Se Hai Naam Tera (You are Your Father’s Legacy) because it is such a beautiful song about the father-son relationship.

A lot of the film was shot in Bangkok. You had spent a lot of time there in your younger years. In fact, back then, you were a young man who was really struggling. How did it feel to go back as a superstar?

I used to work as a chef in Bangkok and that’s also where I learnt martial arts. This wasn’t the first time I have gone back there since I’ve started doing films, but just like it is every time I do go back, it was a very emotional time for me. I showed my son Aarav the places where I worked so hard to become the man that I am today. I took him to the places where I used to work, eat, sleep and train. When I was standing in the doorway of the kitchen where I used to work, I literally had to fight back my tears. It just goes to show that if you work hard, you can achieve anything. I really wanted to show my son that. That’s the legacy I want to leave for him: that hard work pays off, and that you can’t achieve success without working towards it.