Unique post-release meet with Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar in Mission Raniganj. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

In an unique, post-release interview with Akshay Kumar, the superstar opens up on his latest film, Mission Raniganj, with candid honesty. It is clear that he is proud of this film, and—as in a related news published in newsindiatimes—this is now his 25th film in the socially-conscious and patriotic genre. It is also one of his 10-plus essays of real or living people—termed as biopics.

On the praise his film has garnered

“We actors and filmmakers always crave for such praise, for a great response. Mission Raniganj is not a mainstream commercial film in that sense, for it brings us a reality-based story of a real person. I like to show such stories to society and inform them about these things that I have come to know. I liked the story when my director narrated it to me. How many films have been made on coal mining and the problems faced by miners? No one has made any movie except for Kaala Patthar (1979). Yeh acchhai aur sachhai ke baare mein hai (this film is about human goodness and truth).”

On his experience with Jaswant Singh Gill, on whose life the film is based, and the Dhanbad coal-mining incident

“I had many conversations with Jaswant Singh Gill. His only condition was that I make this film playing a sardar. That is, like him, I should wear a turban. I have worn the turban in some of my films, and let me tell you that there is always a sense of pride when you wear one. I am sure there must be a scientific reason for this, when it is tied and sits tight on one’s head. I did meet some miners and officers on Zoom when the film was finalized, but not personally as I was then in London. I have promised them that whenever I may shoot nearby I will visit them. These miners have a shockingly short life! The dust and fumes in the mines give them diseases that cut their life spans. In the case of this accident, imagine how many will be courageous enough to face sure-shot death when they have to move 350 feet down inside the earth and there are now floods there. The carbon dioxide makes breathing impossible and still, Jaswant went down himself and rescued the trapped miners. Even normally, miners spend 12 hours there, and they come up to the surface in go down in capsule-like lifts in which 50 to 60 workers are crammed! The capsule was the reason why the initial title of the film was Capsule Gill.”

On high-content social films and any apprehensions about doing them

“I enjoy doing films like Rowdy Rathore and Singh Is Kinng. But even more, I like to share knowledge about unknown or lesser-known real-life heroes, or dealing with real-life issues. Airlift, Pad Man, Toilet—Ek Prem Katha, OMG-2—their value lies in imparting knowledge, making us realize what we should. Every film and everything I do cannot be about money. I like doing such films, and if the person making it does not have money, I also produce them myself. So don’t discourage me by making me think only of the business a film will do. Give me courage, these kinds of films are made so that we can enlighten the audience that it’s time to change society. I have been discouraged from acting in or producing many of my films. But in almost all cases, they did well!

“If Mission Raniganj has been given a four-and-a-half star rating, I would say 4 is for my director, Tinu Suresh Desai, and a half for all of us actors and the rest of the team! I am grateful to him for giving me this opportunity. Incidentally, there was this flooding sequence in which we had to shoot in water for two full days. And Tinu wasn’t making us actors do it all from outside. He was in the water himself with forty actors! Regardless of how it does commercially, I will say with pride that this is among my finest films!”

On why this film has not been promoted so well

“Promotion is a wrong term for such films. Maybe it is different for a Rowdy Rathore, but people will not go for a movie just because I visit a city because they will feel, ‘It’s his movie. He will praise it!’ What’s the use of you saying, for example, that your son is very intelligent? It makes sense if your neighbor tells somebody the same thing, right? Similarly, you watch the film and praise it to four people, and they in turn will tell more people. So, especially in such movies, the content speaks, word-of-mouth matters. This is my learning, my understanding and  my experience. It may be different for others, and also for masala films. And my thing is, let the audience decide! ”

On his children’s views on his movies

“They say things very briefly—‘Dad, good job!’, ‘Dad, very good film!’ or ‘Dad, didn’t like it!’”

On his lows and highs

“See, the important thing here is to be always content, always happy and positive. I have believed in that throughout my career. For me, life is always a high. I have worked with 24 new directors. If I like a script, I tell them, ‘Let’s get together and make the film’. There is no low for me.”



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