On Saturday, the industry was abuzz about a showdown between Akshay Kumar and Nana Patekar. The incident happened on the sets of Firoz Nadiadwala's Welcome, directed by Anees Bazmee.
Says an eye witness, "Tension had been brewing between Akshay and Nana for a while. Akshay is known to interfere in scripting, shooting and manipulating the roles of other actors. This had been annoying Nana for some time. On Friday, Akshay came late for a shot. This infuriated Nana, who walked off the sets saying he didn't have time to waste."
But a source close to Akshay says, "Akshay wasn't supposed to report to the Welcome set that day. In fact, his dates were with Vipul Shah. But Feroz requested Akki so he came. The minute he walked in, Nana started abusing him thinking he was delaying the shoot."
As for what happened on Saturday, the eyewitness says, "Nana, Akshay and Katrina were shooting indoors, while Feroz Khan and Anil Kapoor were outside. At 4 pm, all the actors were supposed to shoot a song sequence. But when they actually got down to it, things got out of control."
Nana abuses Akki
Continues the source, "At the end of the song sequence, Nana and Akshay were supposed to hit each other. Things came to a head when Nana accused Akshay of hitting him too hard. Then he started abusing Akshay in really foul language. Akshay retaliated saying Nana would regret using such abusive language on him.
That's when Patekar told him to f*** off. By that time, everyone from choreographer Ahmed Khan to the junior artistes had gathered round in surprise. Anees realised that this could lead to fisticuffs so he called for a break. For one hour, Akshay, Nana and Anees were huddled inside the room sorting out matters. Later, to everyone's surprise, Nana and Akshay continued to shoot till 10 pm."
It was staged
But Bazmee denies the fight, saying, "I was to shoot a song between Akshay and Nana that had some dhakkam dhukki at the end. I didn't want a fight master for the scene as I wanted a naturalreaction from the other artistes. So I had a meeting with Akshay and Nana and told them what I wanted. Besides them and my assistant directors, no one else knew this was a mock fight.
That's why everyone thought they were actually fighting. They were shocked! And I managed to get kamaal ke expressions from everybody. After that, Nana and Akshay were back to sharing jokes and playing pranks on each other. They love each other and share zabardast tuning."
So the whole thing was staged? That's what Bazmee says. "I've done similar things with other artistes too. In fact, we staged a similar fight in Deewangi between Suresh Oberoi and Ajay Devgan, where Sureshji didn't even know it was staged!"
The big cover-up
On his part, Nana prefers to laugh off the matter. "There was no fight. The whole thing had been planned by Anees to get a real and natural reaction from the other actors. Only Akshay, me and Anees knew about it."
As for Nana walking off the sets, Bazmee says, "Nana didn't walk out. Akshay had told me he would come by 4.30 pm and arrived only half an hour late. So Nana asked me very politely if he was required for the next scene, else he would leave and return in an hour. Nana's mother hasn't been keeping well so he wanted to visit her and return to shoot. Since I didn't require him or Feroz Khan for any scenes that night, I sent him away."
But a source from the industry says, "Nana doesn't have an ego. He wouldn't walk off a set because another actor came late. But the fight did happen. Anees is a very diplomatic person and doesn't want the shooting of his film to get disrupted. This is a big cover-up."
Akshay Kumar remained unavailable for comment.