For how long can you live in fear?: Akshay Kumar on restarting work

Trust Akshay Kumar to do the unthinkable. So, even as others ponder over resuming work in the Covid-era, the star is already out and about, doing what he does best – working. In May, he shot for a Covid awareness ad. Last month, he shot for seven ads within about 10 days. This month, he will fly to the UK to start work on his next film, Bellbottom. In October, the shoot of his Aanand L Rai-directed film, Atrangi Re will resume. And on Monday, Kumar announced a new film, Raksha Bandhan, as a special dedication to his sister, Alka Hiranandani. It will team him up again with Rai. Kumar, who is also slated to start shooting for his debut web series in 2021, will next be seen on the big screen in Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi, scheduled to hit theatres this Diwali. He talks about restarting work amid the pandemic and his special equation with sister, among other things.

You are the only star/actor, who has resumed work in a big way. Aren’t you afraid?

Of course, I was, but for how long can you live in fear? Initially, when the pandemic started, very little was known about the virus – the way it affects a person. So, there was a lot of fear. Now, with time, we know more and also that it’s possible to beat it if we’ve a good immune system. Hence, I decided to get back to work taking all the precautions, not just for me but the entire unit.

Do you feel when a big star like you restarts work, it sends a positive signal to everyone?

I can’t comment about other people. All I can say is that I, for one, was itching to get back to work as soon as it was permitted, and possible. I don’t think I’ve stayed away from the camera for so long and now, there’s a newfound excitement to be back on set.

Do you feel it’s high time people restarted their lives — armed with all the necessary precautions – after having been cooped up at home since the end of March?

I’ve a simple question: if not now, then when? So many people have lost their jobs [during the lockdown] and were pushed into poverty. I’m sorry but if we keep waiting for a vaccine, then, before the virus, people will get badly affected by unemployment. I think we all need to, slowly and safely, get back to normal life where a mask will be your essential companion.

What has been your family’s reaction to you stepping out?

I’m very fortunate that my family has been so supportive. They understand where I’m coming from, that one just can’t stay cooped up at home forever. Eventually, will have to step out and start working. I’ve just decided to do it before anyone else.

You’ve always been very close to your sister. What kind of bond you share with her?

I don’t want to sound clichéd but my sister, Alka and I really have a very special relationship. And over the years, it has only grown. She is like my sounding board for everything – be it in my personal or professional sphere. I value her opinion a lot because she’s the most neutral person I know (smiles).

Since you are the elder sibling, have you always been very protective of her or has it been the other way around?

Even though I’m elder to her, while we were growing up, she behaved like the ‘elder’ one – being always more responsible, and also protected me from my parent’s scoldings during sticky situations (laughs). Of course, we used to have our share of fights but if a third person ever came into the picture, it would be like, ‘us against the world’. And that’s how things are even now. We’ll always have each other’s back.

And how did you come up with the idea of getting her to debut as a producer with your new film, Raksha Bandhan?

It was the festival of Raksha Bandhan yesterday, and what better gift could I have given my sister? Over the years, I’ve given her many gifts but I think, this one supersedes them all, as it will be there forever on celluloid. Hence, I wanted to dedicate this film to her and also bring her on board as a producer.