We recently sat down with Bollywood superstar and heartthrob Akshay Kumar to discuss his latest role in gritty thriller Holiday: A Soldier is Never Off Duty, out now in Cineworld. Akshay talks about preparing for the role, working with director A.R. Murugadoss and the film's commitment to authenticity.
So Akshay, your new film Holiday – what's it about?
I play a soldier who's also a secret Army Intelligence Officer. I arrive in my home city of Mumbai on holiday, but suddenly things get out of control and I’m drawn into a deadly terror attack. Basically, a soldier is ‘never off duty’ – hence the film's tagline. This is a very different type of film not only for me but for my audience, which has not really been seen in Indian cinema before.
What appealed to you about the film?
I was impressed by the script and how true to life it is. I'm proud to be part of a film which touches upon reality and the issues we face today. This is real cinema, not fictional cinema – this is what makes this role very exciting for me.
In preparation for the the role, I’ve learnt a great deal about the field of intelligence. I’ve heard stories surrounding the notion of sleeper cells, the role they have played in terrorist attacks and the importance of cleaning them up to safeguard populations. This script is raw, gritty and real.
What was it like working with writer/director A.R. Murugadoss?
I was extremely honoured to work with A.R. Murugadoss. He is a very talented and skilled director. He guided me on how to give the best performance possible. I always joke that even though his height is quite short, his imagination and power is through the roof!
This is a very special role for me to play as it's challenging and has offered something I can get my teeth into. I truly hope that I have done the character justice for my fans.
How are the action scenes in Holiday different from your past films?
Producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah is a firm believer that if you want something different, then you have to go elsewhere to get it. So we brought over one of the best stunt teams in the world from England led by Greg Powell to choreograph most of the film’s action sequences.
Greg and his team of stuntmen were absolutely brilliant. It was beyond refreshing to work with them. One of my favourite sequences in the whole film is the gun fight that we shot in the old abandoned kitchens in Bombay.
There's no fancy trickery, no special effects, it's just me and the fighters, hand-to-hand combat in an enclosed environment. It was like no fight I've ever shot before, hats off to the stunt team. It may not blow your mind with 'out of this world CGI', but it was never meant to, it was made to make you go 'wow!' that had to hurt. It's raw, it's real.
You've done action and comedy. What kind of role would you like to do next?
I enjoyed playing the villain in Ajnabee. It's nice to get your hands dirty once in a while and be really mean and obnoxious on-screen. You should make the audience hate you, mix it up a little bit!