Akshay Kumar hopes OTT release of 'BellBottom' expands audience for film
The film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
There is no doubt that Akshay Kumar is the ultimate 360-degree Bollywood actor who has aced even the quirkiest of characters on-screen. Be it a thrilling 'Khiladi', a charming patriot, or even a humorous fan-favourite, Akshay Kumar has ‘been there, done that’.
In his latest, Akshay plays the role of an advanced RAW agent ‘BellBottom’ in the 1980s who, with the help of his team, stops the hijacking of an Indian plane in the Gulf during the tenure of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. 70-80 per cent of the film is, as Akshay says, based on true events with the rest being dramatised.
Directed by Ranjit M Tewari, BellBottom is also the world’s first film to be shot and completed in the pandemic. The film features a star-studded cast including Akshay, Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta, Huma Qureshi, Adil Hussain and Aniruddh Dave.
Producer Jacky Bhagnani with actors Lara Dutta, Akshay Kumar and Vaani Kapoor (Photo/ANI)
BellBottom hit theatres last month in August, and recently released on Amazon Prime Video. We speak to Akshay, who tells us of the impact BellBottom hopes to create by getting an OTT release and how the experience and responsibility of finishing the film amid the pandemic was.
What is the impact BellBottom hopes to create by getting an OTT release shortly after the theatrical release?
The aim always is to reach as many people as possible. So, with the OTT release of BellBottom, we hope to reach a wider audience especially those who missed it in the theatres as theatres were not operational in certain Indian states due to Covid-19 restrictions.
When you make a movie inspired by real events like BellBottom, there is bound to be criticism and comparisons - how do you feel about it?
I’ve learnt to take things with a pinch of salt, be it compliments or criticism. Because you cannot make everyone happy. As for BellBottom, I know we’ve made an honest film which is 70-80% based on true events, the rest is dramatized.
As a 360-degree Bollywood hero, is there any particular genre you are inclined towards more than the other?
If you ask me personally, I love comedies. I’m naturally inclined towards it. Even in my free time, I browse through humorous videos, it automatically lifts my mood. Unfortunately, people think of it as mindless, and comedy as a genre has not got its due credit but it is the most difficult genre according to me and one I enjoy doing the most.
BellBottom is the first film in the world to be shot and completed during the pandemic. What prompted you to take on this huge responsibility?
The entire credit of pulling off this huge feat goes to Vashu Ji (Bhagnani). He shuffles between the UK and India. During the pandemic last year he was in the UK and I still remember I was talking to him over the phone. It had been probably a month and a half since we were in lockdown and the restlessness had started to set in. It was probably the longest time I’d gone without facing the camera. And just like that, I suggested to him about shooting abroad in a bio-bubble and I kid you not, within 30 seconds that man said yes, let's do it.
It was all him, he believed he could pull it through and he did. From start till the end, it has been one man, Vashu Ji and of course his teammates, Jackky (Bhagnani) and Honey who made this mission impossible, possible.
Fans have spent their entire lives watching your films in theatres. Now, the pandemic has brought about a change in the way films are released. How has your stance changed towards the release of your films?
In this regard, my ‘funda’ is very clear. I don’t want anyone to lose their money on my accord. So, that decision I’ve left completely to the discretion of my producers. Whether it’s a theatrical release or an OTT release, I’m okay with it as long as my audiences are getting to watch my films and my producers are making money.
If BellBottom was to be released on OTT platforms only, would there be anything different in the way you made the film?
Absolutely not, movies are my craft and I wouldn’t compromise with my craft under any circumstances. We make movies to be showcased whichever platform they may eventually be screened on, but the process of filmmaking for me is too sacred to be tampered with.