Q. Ok Akshay, was it difficult to convince you to go bare-chested and walk on the ramp for the new Levis campaign? A. No, it was not difficult and I only had to convince myself. I go according to what is needed. Rest of the time I don''t remove my shirt and walk around without any rhyme or reason. There were proper reasons involved, that''s why I did it.
In its 118 years of existence it has happened for the first time that Levis has roped any Indian to be the brand ambassador for their 501 brand. And its none other than the current darling of the film industry Akshay Kumar. In a free-wheeling conversation with Rajan Singh, Akshay Kumar bares more.
Ok Akshay, was it difficult to convince you to go bare-chested and walk on the ramp for the new Levis campaign?
No, it was not difficult and I only had to convince myself. I go according to what is needed. Rest of the time I dont remove my shirt and walk around without any rhyme or reason. There were proper reasons involved, thats why I did it.
Akshay Kumar: the new king??
It also seems that now with your bare chest ad campaign you are all set to give Salman Khan a tough competition?
There is just no competition between us. Why do you make it sound as if film business is a very competitive thing? We are not competing with each other. There is no competition so I dont see any issue of competition cropping between us.
You endorse only those products you believe in, will you please specify something about this?
Well as far as I know, I take my endorsements very personally. Even if my family says anything against it, then I just forget it. You dont get more personal than this one. I am pretty sure that most men out there wear 501 and so do I. My father used to wear the same brand and I am sure that many fathers and grandfathers must be doing the same. It is a brand, which is there since ages. Back in those days wearing this brand gave me lots of pleasure. So now I am telling people that it will do the same to you too so unbutton yourself.
You walked the ramp after a long gap, were you nervous when you took to ramp?
Walking the ramp is a very simple thing. You can do it and so can everyone. Its just like taking a walk and coming back to the same position. And if you were to stop mid way, then just look to your left and then look to your right and then come back. Thats about it. I learnt the art of walking the ramp when i was a three year old kid just learning to walk (smiles).
You have now reached a certain stature in your career. As a youth who came from Delhi and conquered the film industry, what suggestion will you give to the youth to unbutton themselves?
The only message I will say to them is that they should never believe in anything that is artificial. They should have no faith in powder or steroids, which are available in markets. They should have conviction and faith in themselves and should not resort to short cuts to make their body because this is the perfect way, which lasts long. It helps them maintain perfect balance of their mental status. I would also like to add at the same time that if I can do this others can do the same. To gain success the biggest thing one should keep in mind is that they should respect their parents. If they take care of their parents they will always encounter success. I have learnt this and have done it.
Ok apart for the jeans campaign, which has allowed you to unbutton yourself, which are the other things where you unbutton yourself?
As time has been progressing in my case, what I was few years back and what I am today; I have unbuttoned lots of things. Actually this gentleman (pointing at his man Friday) knows me for more than 20 years and he can tell you more.
The feel of the ad is very sensuous; will the audience of this country accept this ad of yours?
Did you find anything wrong in the ad? In films you get to see much more beyond this. In this ad I have not done anything wrong. Its just about attitude and unbuttoning your mind. Its about freeing yourself. Its about freedom of speech. Mostly its freedom of ones desire, just come out of it and free yourself.
Who in your opinion has the best physique in the film industry right now?
Wont it be nice if you were to say Akshay Kumar (smiles). To me its Sunny Deol who has a real good physique. A real good physique without any artificial help. I would say that Sunny Deol has real power.
Akshay, Levis is 118-year-old brand and for their Indian operation they have approached you as the brand ambassador, how does it feels?
I feel very good about it and I feel very grateful that I was asked to endorse their brand in India. Its one brand that I myself have been using it for the past 35 years. It feels great to be associated with them. I get lots of offers all the time but money is after all not the only thing. Right now i am only endorsing two or three brands. Levis was the first jeans, which my father gave me.
You are sporting a very slim and fit look, is it because of the film you are busy shooting currently?
Its nothing like that. In Chandni Chowk to China, I have a paunch. Its always the characters in a film that I follow. You dont always have to do roles, which demand a fit look. You have to do whatever a little bit you fee like.
Ok, do you plan to integrate this brand in your films?
i will surely integrate this brand in my films but in what capacity, is yet to be decided and worked out. Today is the first day; give us some more time to elaborate on it.
Your birthday falls next month, any plans?
No any special plans as such as I will be in Toronto for the Toronto film festival. Singh is Kinng would be screened over there.
Has six packs become essential for actors to be a part of the film industry?
I had them since my childhood days. Its only that I never took my shirt and had hair on my chest before thats why people never noticed it. Its not essential but its been there since the beginning of my career.
Ok, who looks better bare chested - Salman or SRK?
Its a difficult question to answer, both of them look great and both of them have great bodies. They both look great and thats why they are part of the industry for more than 20 years.
You also met Sylvester Stallone when you were shooting for Kambakht Ishq in the USA, how was the experience?
I was little bit scared when I met him for the first time. Before I became a part of the film fraternity, I was working in Bangkok as a waiter and as a cook. When I staying there I had only two posters in my room, one was of Sridevi and the other was of Sylvester Stallone. At that time I had never ever imagined that I would get an opportunity to meet and act with my idol. It was destined I guess. I also did a movie with Sridevi later on. But the fact remains that I was scared when I met him for the first time. He was so down to earth. It was great meeting him and I really enjoyed every moment of it.
What does fashion means to you?
For me fashion is what I wear, what I feel comfortable in. I have always considered white shirt and blue denim as my favourite attire.
Thanks a lot.