Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar
“I feel it was really easy for us, as compared to the young actors today”
He’s shy, he’s subtle, and he’s honest! And there’s just something about Akshaye Khanna which has stayed back with the audience over the years – that’s probably why his presence in a film is talked about, and looked forward upon, by the viewers. The audience was surprised to see him in ‘Dishoom’ last year and his casting in the film was one of the talking points. Ask him content he feels about the fact that people look forward to seeing him despite a bit of a sabbatical and he says, “It feels very good that you’re remembered and people want to see you, especially when there’s so much competition in the industry, there are so many new actors. So, it’s obviously a great feeling, and having said that, I’d definitely like to do a lot more work!”
In his latest release, ‘Mom’, he has an extended cameo. Talking about what he liked about the film, he expresses, “For me it’s always been about being a part of a certain quality of cinema and that shouldn’t be compromised on. It’s very rare that you see a script like ‘Mom’, and I’m not just saying it because I’m a part of it. In fact, even if it’s an extended cameo, you want to be a part of a film like this. Plus, I have not really played a cop like this before, so this film was quite intriguing.”
A lover-boy in ‘Taal’, to negative characters in ‘Humraaz’ and ‘Race’ and comedy films like ‘Hulchul’ – he’s played such a variety of roles and been equally convincing. “You can only choose from what you get right? So more than me wanting to do a variety of roles, the credit should go to these directors and writers for thinking about me. I would have never been able to do these roles if they didn’t come to me. So, I only feel fortunate,” he explains. But how does he go about approaching a role now, so many years down the line? He adds, “I can’t really explain how I go about it, I just go by how the director wants me to approach a role.”
Clearly though, he’s had many memorable roles in his career so far, ask him to pick his most gratifying film and he says, “I can’t really pick one film or role, but ‘Border’ just completed 20 years, and it made me so nostalgic. It’s been 20 years and people still cherish the film. It made me realise the fact that we were so naïve, we didn’t really know what to do, and yet the way JP Dutta handled all of us was amazing. It was just his greatness as a director to get those performances out of us. Today, when I look back, I feel I knew nothing!”
“It feels very good that you’re remembered and people want to see you, especially when there’s so much competition in the industry”
The mention of ‘Border’ takes me back to a scene in the film where Khanna tells Pooja Bhatt, ‘Kamo, agar main wapas naa aaon toh tum kisi aur se shadi kar lena.” A scene so innocent that it makes you smile and be teary-eyed at the same time. He didn’t really say much, but was still quite expressive with his eyes, and his innocence was hard to miss. Tell him that and he smiles wide. “Yes, you’re right yaar! That scene was really innocent, now that I think of it,” he says, while he gives the entire credit to the director.
From being so naïve to evolving immensely as an actor and being here for so many years, how’s it been? He smiles and adds, “I feel it was really easy for us, as compared to the young actors today. We could get away with not knowing everything. Today’s young actors have to know everything – acting, dancing, action to the technicalities. They are expected to know it all. That’s the one change I’ve seen over the years.”
Amidst the young crop of actors, it’s certainly a delight to see Akshaye Khanna back on-screen now. Post ‘Mom’, he would next be seen in ‘Ittefaq’ which also stars Siddharth Malhotra and Sonakshi Sinha.