After the furore that was raised over the apology of a beard that Akshay Kumar sported as a Sikh in Anees Bazmee's Singh Is Kinng, Akshay Kumar is taking no chances.
For the role of the real-life Sardarji who sailed in the fateful ship named Kamagata Maru from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1914, Akshay is taking no chances.
He'll grow the beard to the size stipulated by the Sikh community before plunging into the role in January 2010.
In fact, the actor smarting under the attack he faced for his improper beard length in Bazmee's bearded burlesque, has this time decided to set aside all his assignments for Kamagata Maru to avoid continuity clashes with other projects.
Says Deepa, "Akshay is so amazing. Considering he has so much work on hand, I was surprised when he absolutely insisted on growing a full-length beard. One of the reasons I postponed Kamagata Maru to next year was so that Akshay would be able to block an entire chunk of dates for my film and keep the beard. I was very sure that I didn't want him for a month and then return with a false beard and finish my film. It's very important for actors to respect continuity. That's the only way to work."
Deepa saw Akshay Kumar play a Sardar in Singh Is Kinng before casting him in Kamagata Maru. "I thought he made a very good Sardar. He has a very Panju-Sardar look. Akshay has to play a 48-year old Sardar. And he's absolutely fine with a salt-and-pepper beard."
"Akshay is also the film's producer along with my life partner David Hamilton, so his interest in the film is very, very deep," says Deepa.
Post the fiasco that's Chandni Chowk to China, Akshay Kumar is also counting on converting his comic currency into something more compelling and enduring. According to Deepa, Akshay Kumar will be seen in a completely non-comic serious and politically profound role in Kamagata Maru.
"Five years ago, Akshay was completely ready to transform his image in Water when he was to play the Gandhian reformist. The role in Kamagata Maru is far more challenging."