Fresh after getting rave reviews for his performance in Salaam-E-Ishq, Akshaye Khanna's platter is full of films coming up in 2007- Naqaab, Race, Shortcut and Gandhi My Father. This equally charming son of actor Vinod Khanna has delivered impressive performances in Taal, Humraaz, Dil Chahta Hai, Hungama and Salaam-E-Ishq after a forgettable launch with Himalyaputra and a string of flops that followed. A rejuvenated Akshaye speaks to us about Naqaab and his forthcoming films.
Your film Naqaab looks similar to your film Humraaz. It may be because of you, Bobby, Abbas-Mustan and the thriller theme. Can you tell us something about the film?
Naqaab is a thriller and this is what Abbas-Mastan are specialized in. Every director has his own forte and Abbas-Mustan have thrillers. I don't think anybody can make thrillers the way they make. You can say Ram Gopal Varma makes good underworld movies and Yash Chopra makes great love stories just like Abbas-Mustan make great thrillers. I don't think it's anywhere similar to Humraaz. The story is different, characters are different and the plot is also different. Everything is different except Bobby, me and Abbas-Mustan. There's a new girl called Urvashi Sharma.
Are you playing a negative role in the film?
I cannot reveal the shade of the character. I am playing a regular guy, who is struggling to become an actor. It is just impossible for me to talk about the film because it will be like revealing the plot. In a thriller, the whole USP is its plot. You know, there are some films that are character driven and some are plot driven. Naqaab is a plot driven film. We have tried to make a compact film. I think audiences of today don't have patience to sit for three hours, so we made a compact and sleek film.
This is second time you are working with Bobby Deol. Did it feel like going back to Humraaz days?
Bobby and I are friends. He is one of the nicest people that I have met in the industry. He has got a very clean heart. He is genuinely a very nice and easy person to work with. We get along really well. So it's always wonderful to work with him.
How talented is newcomer Urvashi Sharma?
We needed someone who really didn't have an image or was not an established actress. We wanted someone new and Urvashi is really good. Her work will be appreciated. Very few new girls get a chance to express or showcase their talent fully through their debut film. But I think she has been lucky to get that chance in her first film. Here in this film she has been given a role where she has scope as an actress.
You have worked with Abbas-Mustan in several films. How are they as a director-pair? What is that first thing that comes to your mind when they come up with a script?
I have done four films with them. We have built up a tremendous rapport and understanding with each other. I understand what they want from me as an actor. They too know what I am good at and what I am not. There is lot of understanding and a very good relationship on the personal front also. We get along like a house on fire. I know they wouldn't come to me with something sub standard because they themselves wouldn't settle for anything substandard. When you work with someone you must realize that it's not only your name and credibility put to test, but it's theirs as well. They have never come to me with anything that I have not liked.
It is said that Naqaab will be the most shocking thriller off the year. Your comment.
I think it's a very great tag line. Naqaab is actually a shocking thriller. I think it should live up to its tagline and it will.