Chandni Chowk To China may not have taken a huge opening as was expected out of it. However, a large section of media has chosen to target Akshay Kumar and have started writing obituaries about him. Unreasonable as it may sound; the backlash seems to be completely uncalled for, especially for a man who till about a fortnight back was hailed as 'the darling of the masses'. Vipul Shah, Akshay's friend, director and producer, gets into a freewheeling chat with us and shares his views about the reasons that have perhaps led to such 'venom being spewed on Akshay Kumar' (in his own language). Over to Vipul!
Mission 'Target Akshay'
"I think the only thing that Akshay has done wrong is that he has never been a part of any camp. He has never picked up any favourites with media or has tied up with journalists (it's a shame that some of them are called journalists). Unfortunately he is not a part of any politics and believes in the policy of 'do your work and go home'. Today, when people are getting an opportunity to tarnish and target him, he doesn't have people to defend him. Everyone is clearly having a field day."
[an error occurred while processing this directive]All HITS forgotten?
"And by the way, why are we forgetting that he is the same man who in the last 3 years has seen 21 films of his getting released out of which 17 have been hits. He is the most consistent actor, star and a lot more than that. Just because one film of his doesn't take a kick start as expected, people out there have started making judgments. It's like Sachin Tendulkar failing in one innings and people saying that he should retire! See, these kinds of elements are always there and neither Akshay nor any of his directors or producers would be bothered about it."
Of course Akshay is disappointed!
"Akshay is extremely concerned about the kind of backlash coming towards him and the film. He is feeling at a certain level that despite what media has to say about the film, his audience should not feel let down. It can happen to the best of the people but the way stories are being generated, it seems as if Akshay has almost finished the entire industry with just one film. What are we smoking? It's really sad! People should realize that he is the only actor who does 4 films a year and still sees so much of success. Now today, if you want to crucify him then well, only God can help you."
The 'J' factor at play?
"Jealousy - I guess that too has played a major role in the kind of backlash that is being generated. They feel that Akshay earns a lot of money and I have realized that in my interaction with people. They are jealous about him reaching this position and now they have got a chance to open their mouths. Well, do that as long as you don't misuse the freedom of expression. But please don't jump to conclusions. Otherwise it would be a shameful incident in Indian cinema when so-called underperformance of one film would lead to a select bunch of people trying to finish him off. Well, keep trying because ultimately audience would anyways come to see his next film."
Why are we demoralizing the industry?
"While media and some people with vested interest are targeting a man who has come up to such a level through so many hardships in life and done something that people can only dream to achieve, they are only demoralizing others in the industry. Akshay is a man who has come from nowhere and created a space for himself. Today, you want to ignore all his hard work put for so many years; the ton loads of entertainment he has provided to millions out there. Show me one actor whose film hasn't lived up to expectations. When you see CC2C, Akshay has tried his best. Now may be you like the film or not is a different question but can you say that Akshay hasn't made an effort? There is a limit to what an actor can do!"
Akshay should retire? What nonsense!
"If you want to say that because of one film an actor should retire then I would say that please watch your mouth and language. Because I am so sure that Akshay would deliver a hit next, and that should be soon, and once that happens, the very same people would be touching his feet. That day is not far off! Suddenly there is a whole mission to 'Kill Akshay'. Well, let me tell you that he is much stronger a person that he won't die because of one CC2C. He won't vanish and instead would do a lot more for people. So please save your opinion because tomorrow you would be returning to him for an interview and a front page cover!"
It's not only about Akshay
"Yes, Akshay happens to be a very near person in my life but honestly speaking, Anyone including myself would've been disappointed if people would have talked in the same way. What disgusts me most is the attitude of some people in India who are targeting an actor. It is sad because at the time when the industry is not going through its best patch, we are not supporting each other. Seriously, we don't need enemies from outside when we have a good chunk of them from inside the industry. These are the people who are harming themselves. At the end of the day, this industry sees collective success and failure. If one film does well, it benefits 10 more films that are coming next. And if one fails, it impacts 10 more which are going to be released next."
Am I angry? No!
"I am not angry at the mischief makers; I am just analyzing the situation with a balanced approach and feeling sad at our outlook towards our colleagues. If we continue to have such an outlook in the times when the industry is not going through the best time then obviously our growth should be restricted. We pull each other down rather than supporting, hence we deserve to remain at a lower level. My point is, let's forget about Akshay and think about yourself. You are just damaging yourself!"
Akshay is not alone
"I can recount 100 such cases when someone has been pulled down so badly. A few months back, it happened to Himesh Reshammiya. Earlier, after Saawariya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was said to be finished. Harman got to hear so much due to Love Story 2050. After Drona, Abhishek was written off and even though Dostana was a success, a large section of media didn't want to believe it earlier on but later relented. This is our cynicism at play and mind you, one film cannot make or break anyone. Forget a superstar; it could even be the case for a newcomer. Yes, I choose to be vocal about it because perhaps this is what the first time when it is not just backlash but venom being spewed out. I have never seen something like this before and I hope I don't see it ever again!"