We talk to Akshay Kumar about his plans for today, why Gold is so precious and what independent India means to him
Reema Kagti’s Gold, starring Akshay Kumar, Amit Sadh, Kunal Kapoor, Mouni Roy, Vineet Kumar Singh and Sunny Kaushal, releases today on Independence Day (August 15). While Gold is a fictional story based on true events, Akshay plays the role of a hockey coach, Tapan Das, who scouts for talent and trains team India to win its first medal as an independent country at the 1948 Summer Olympics.
Gold revolves around the historic and resounding victory of the Indian hockey team over the British team (4-0) at the 1948 Summer Olympics in Wembley Park, London, England to win the country's only gold medal since India became independent. Then came the spine-tingling moment for every Indian, as the anthem of independent India played and the Indian flag went up on British soil. It was a glorious moment that all Indians would cherish for the rest of their lives, made more so by the fact that the conditions favoured the British.
Akshay Kumar believes this magnanimity of the Indian spirit must live on...
How will you celebrate Independence Day today?
I plan to watch Gold at one of the shows and when the National Anthem begins before the movie, I will stand up and salute. Then I will go home and rest a bit because I am exhausted. I have been running after Gold (promoting) for the last 15 days so I am tired.
What does an independent India mean to you?
I want every individual in my country to be a good citizen, follow rules and regulations, be kind and courteous to women and children and help others. If everybody individually does this, India will be a greater place to live in, than now. Now India is one of the greatest countries in the world but if we are all good citizens, it will be a much better place. We have this habit of picking out mistakes of others but instead if we start thinking about ourselves and whether we are doing right or wrong, and start minding our own business, things will get much better.
What, according to you, is the biggest problem afflicting us today?
We have unity but some people don’t believe in that unity. Today I posted some traffic videos for the Mumbai Police so someone asked me, ‘Why are you doing it for the Mumbai Police? Why didn’t you do it for our city?’ Now why are you dividing us by saying North ya South ka kyun nahi bana? At the end of the day, I am playing a policeman. I was shooting in Mumbai so I did it for the Mumbai Police. That kind of mindset is hurtful and divides sometimes. What we need to do is unite – that’s what Gold is about. That line in Gold says it all – ‘tum isko dekho, apne ego ko dekho, mohalla ko dekho, apne aap ko dekho, apna oudha ko dekho – hum apna sirf country ko dekhenge.’ We need to just focus on India – our motherland and nothing else. The day certain people who don’t believe in a united India understand this, everything will become fine.
In the movie Gold, what is the golden scene for you?
There were two golden scenes. After we won, our flag was hoisted and the National Anthem was played in the stadium, there was pin drop silence. We became so emotional while enacting the scene that we all had tears in our eyes on the set. There’s another scene where I take out our Indian Tricolour in the locker room and quietly show it to the players. When I did that we actually started crying and during the end, each and every player was crying without glycerin. When Vande Mataram was being played and the cameras were on, whatever expressions you see on our faces were completely real.
In Gold, you are seen taking a backseat whereas earlier, people would accuse you of editing films yourself. In your new movies, not only are you seen sharing equal credit with all but also taking India with you. Are you changing with time?
First of all let me say - I have edited Gold myself as well (jokes)! I don’t allow anybody to edit films except myself. On a serious note, this film, whatever happens, belongs to these three boys and Kunal (Kapoor) as they are the major pillars of Gold and I would like to give them as much credit as anybody else. The way they have done the movie, things wouldn’t have happened. I would say that I am just there but they are the pillars. I am what I always was – I haven’t changed. When I acted in films they were commercial and I wasn’t the producer. When I started earning lot of money I became a producer and when I became one, then I started doing films like Gold, Airlift, Baby, Holiday, Special 26 – I have produced them. When money starts coming in a person starts driving according to one’s own rules. That’s what I am doing now.
Earlier a star would take credit for the major role but in Gold, all the actors have being given equal importance and every character is important. How involved were you in the casting?
I wasn’t involved in the casting as everything was done by my director and producer. They selected, took screen tests and finalised everybody.
For the first time in a Bollywood movie, India and Pakistan are watching a game together and cheering the other team.
This is the first time in a movie where it has been shown that Pakistan is playing and Indians are watching and cheering them and vice versa. That is the best part of Gold. I think sports unite everybody across all nations. I hope that Imran Khan, who is a sportsman himself, understands that and allows for Gold to be shown in Pakistan because it’s a sports movie. They shouldn’t think that it’s about the Partition. I don’t know if it’s in Imran’s hands or not because he is the Prime Minister. I just feel that the movie should be released there. Gold is a movie about sports and where we all unite. The last time Pakistan didn’t allow Padman to release there and that problem (of feminine hygiene) is a concern there too. I just hope one day that they can allow Padman to be also shown there.
When you were narrated the script, what was the core or soul of the film that instantly appealed to you and made you say yes?
What I loved about Gold is the truth – the fact that this kind of thing can happen. It’s been 71 years since we got our freedom from the British and we are still struggling to get gold medals in Olympics. But in 1948, India was just a one-year-old country as we got our freedom in 1947. There was so much of chaos, commotion, problems happening, the government had not been formed properly, no sports ministry, no money, or money to buy proper spiked sports shoes, no training, no sports academy - nothing was there and there comes these 11 players who comes with that hunger, pride and love for their country – that we want to get that gold medal for free India. At the end of the day, it’s all about your mind and greed or hunger for something you want badly. If you have that everything can happen. That was the core of the film which I found very commendable to make a movie on that and to show people about sports and how they all united together. It’s a film that makes our chest swell with pride and love for our country. I want this film to reach the interiors because our country’s health card is not good. If you want to be healthy, take up a sport.
Gold is not just about hockey but also says that sports are a very necessary part of one’s life. Old, young, man, woman and child – all must take up one sport and play it to remain healthy. Our lives have become so stressful that it’s important we remain healthy by playing a sport. We need oxygen to breathe and sports will increase our lung power and fitness and help us to get de-stressed. I keep a ball inside my bag and we all play with that on my sets.
Is the movie a true story?
Yes, Gold is a true story. 70-80 per cent things that have been shown are real and actually happened. The anthem was played when India won and for the first time internationally our Indian flag flew on that country that had ruled us for over 200 years. What can be bigger than this? The kind of emotion that ran in people’s blood chokes us up! It was one of the biggest matches ever played in the history of Olympics – one between the masters and the slaves and the slaves won. It is the story of the underdogs (Indians) and their victory.
How nervous are you now that the film has released?
I get nervous before every release of mine because we have worked extremely hard on the movie. We have put in nine months to one year to Gold and so much blood, sweat and tears have gone into it that it’s not easy to absorb the fact of how it will fare at the box office – so yes, I am a little nervous!
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Last Updated Sep 9, 2018, 9:59 AM IST