March 20, 2019
On September 12, 1897, 21 Sikh soldiers of the British Indian Army led by Havildar Ishar Singh stood their ground against 10,000 Afghan invaders in the Battle of Saragarhi. This tale of valour, honour, courage and pride forms the narrative of Akshay Kumar’s upcoming historical drama Kesari. However, like many others, the actor too was oblivious to the story of one of the bravest battles ever fought before signing the Anurag Singh directorial.
He said, “I knew only a little bit about it.”
But with the release of the period drama, Akshay wishes the world to know about the Battle of Saragarhi. “When Kesari will release, the world will know about it. If you will Google the five bravest battle ever fought, it is the Battle of Saragarhi on the second or the third spot. Despite this, it has no mention in our history books. I wish that it gets included in the school syllabus and students get to know about the story of valour and courage of 21 Sikhs who had the chance to flee, but they stood strong and fought for their nation’s pride and honour. Even when I made Airlift, people didn’t know that our country holds a world Guinness record of airlifting so many people and there was hardly one article available on it on the internet. Similarly, when I googled about Saragarhi, there were only 4-5 articles on it. But now, there are over 4000 articles on it,” he added.
Kesari required Akshay Kumar and co. to adopt traditional battle styles to keep the authenticity of the film intact. But with director Anurag Singh’s preparedness, it didn’t take much of an effort to deliver the battle scenes. “Playing Havildar Ishar Singh was not challenging because the director was well prepared. He wrote the story and was working on it from the last one year. For me, the only difficulty was wearing the turban which was very heavy and even the emotions attached to it were heavy. It took 35-40 minutes to tie it. Parineeti (Chopra) even joked that this is the first film where the actor takes more time than the actress to get ready. It was very different from all other Sikh roles I have portrayed until now,” Akshay revealed.
On being asked if he paid special attention to fitness while filming Kesari, Akshay said, “I generally work out for an hour every day. It is not that I hit the gym because I am shooting for Kesari. I haven’t done any special training for Kesari. As far as fitness is concerned, I always say if you cannot give even one hour to your body, you better kill yourself.”
If not physically, Kesari did impact the 51-year-old actor emotionally. The entire journey of the film was “very important and emotional” for Akshay as he shared, “The challenging part was, in my 28 years long career, this was the first time that the set of a film caught fire and unfortunately the entire unit could do nothing but watch it go up in flames. That is the saddest experience I have.”
Also starring Parineeti Chopra, Kesari has been produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. At a promotional event, Karan had said if Akshay would not have done the film, it would not have been made. Overwhelmed with the level of trust his producer puts on him, Akshay said, “That’s the biggest earning for an actor that your producer trusts you. I really feel honoured when something like this is said about me in public. It really boosts me up.”
From being the Khiladi Kumar of Hindi cinema, Akshay has evolved into an actor who has done it all be it comedy, espionage thrillers or patriotic films. But, the actor believes, “I have a long way to go.”
He added, “I want to keep working hard and do not wish to stop at one point or have one kind of image. I have many more images to discover. I am doing varied roles. I have Housefull 4 coming up. There is a horror comedy I am doing, and Sooryavanshi is also there. Don’t stereotype me in a particular role. I am trying to do different roles. Give me some time.”