During a long Canadian schedule of his ambitious project 8X10 Tasveer , the stunt director turned out to be a bit of fraud, director Nagesh Kukunoor decided to direct some of the stunts himself. And rightly so, considering Akshay Kumar plays Nagesh's doppelganger in the film.
In their first collaborative effort, Akshay plays a role inspired by his director Nagesh Kukunoor. Reveals Nagesh, "I like to cast characters who are close to me. And this one gets as close to me as possible. I was once an environmental consultant. Akshay plays the part of an environment protection officer."
It's believed that the two environment-friendly artistes had quite a few run-ins and heated arguments during the making of their film 8X10 Tasveer together. Says a source close to the project, "Akshay Kumar is no longer just an actor. He likes to make his presence felt in every department of his projects. He'd often give suggestions. Nagesh thought he had hired an actor. Akshay had other ideas."
Nagesh doesn't deny that there was stress during the shooting. "The most frustrating thing about shooting 8X10 Tasveer was when the first infamous Canadian schedule went awry. The rest of the shooting was badly affected. In fact all of us were badly affected. Akshay had clearly set aside 40 days for the Canadian schedule whereas we actually shot for just around 17 days. This wasn't a situation conducive to a happy work atmosphere."
Nagesh says he put himself into a zen-like state. "Akshay was booked throughout the year and he kept making the time as and when he could. I am not used to working this way. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do about it. We just played the catch-up game throughout. "
But Nagesh says he's happy with Akshay Kumar's performance during 8X10 Tasveer. "I can say many things. But I'd rather let you watch the film."
About audience getting enough of Akshay's comedy, Nagesh says, "His comic space is not my cup of tea. I was very clear I wanted a big star for 8X10 Tasveer. I was also clear I wanted the non-comic Akshay Kumar. He was the first actor we approached and he agreed. And to his credit Akshay was a thorough professional on location. John Abraham during Aashayein was exactly the same. No khit-pit. Both would work and go home. To get a performance out of them was my responsibility."
What happened in Canada? "We were conned. We had selected a stunt director who turned out to be a stunt man. The local Canadian agents a couple called Raj and Bina who screwed up on everything. It was a complete disaster. The next big schedule in South Africa had a full-blown action director Shyam Kaushal. He's done the action in Slumdog Millionaire. And I couldn't have chosen better. My action sequences were finally in place."
But during the Canadian fiasco Nagesh decided to turn stunt director. "I did a few stunt scenes. And I've never had more fun. Just like when I directed a dance number for the first time during Bollywood Calling."