Seldom does one see a leading actor and an Olympian-turned-politician together on stage in conversation with a filmmaker and TV show host. If you do, you would expect the politician to be the odd man out. But not if his name is Col (retd) Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
The former soldier and sportsman now heads the Union information and broadcasting ministry and also handles the youth affairs and sports portfolio. He and Akshay Kumar were in a fun-filled conversation with charismatic filmmaker Karan Johar during the opening ceremony of the 49th International Film Festival of India in Panjim, Goa, on Tuesday.
Karan Johar, host of the popular television chat show Koffee With Karan, was ecstatic to be speaking to a movie star and a politician together, something he has never done. Akshay Kumar joked that he would not be doing the show as there was no coffee on offer. But Johar offered himself as the gift hamper.
Akshay Kumar pointed out that the trio have one thing in common — shooting. While he shoots for films and Johar shoots movies, Rathore was an ace shooter and won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Akshay Kumar starred in the film Gold (2018), which was released earlier this year. The Reema Kagti directorial was based on India’s first Olympic gold medal as a free country, won by the national hockey team at the 1948 London Games. Akshay Kumar played Tapan Das, a character loosely based on AC Chatterjee, manager of that team.
Karan Johar asked Akshay Kumar what his sentiments were when playing a historical character of sorts. “It was amazing when I came to know what had happened in 1948,” the actor responded, “how we won our first gold medal, that too in England. It was an amazing story. I am thankful to Reema Kagti and [producers] Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar for getting me this script.”
As always, the most fun part of Johar’s chat was the rapid Q&A. The filmmaker tested the knowledge of his guests about each other. The achievements of Rathore and Akshay Kumar are well known, but one question that got his guests thinking was who would be the best actors to tell their stories.
“I don’t know about the actor, but I would certainly like you to be the director and make it a big hit,“ Rathore told Karan Johar. Akshay Kumar asked Johar what title he would give to the Rathore biopic and the wily director quipped: “Khiladi, what else!”
When Johar asked Akshay Kumar about picking another actor to play him, he paused to ponder for a while. Someone from the audience suggested Ranveer Singh and ‘Khiladi’ Kumar agreed. Johar was quick to remind Akshay Kumar that Ranveer Singh’s dates are not available, now that he has got married. Ranveer Singh and long-time girlfriend and actress Deepika Padukone got married in Italy just last week.
Akshay Kumar’s Gold is being screened at IFFI this year as part of a special section of sports films.
Rathore, it appears, has followed Akshay Kumar’s career and it showed in his reply when asked if Akshay Kumar could handle any portfolio in government. Rathore was quick to say sports, lauding the actor for his fitness, but the minister also felt Akshay Kumar was suited to handle another ministry.
“There is one dialogue that Akshay Kumar said, which I think [former defence minister] Manohar Parrikar also said to our neighbour [Pakistan]: Don’t angry me!” said Rathore. Akshay Kumar mouthed this line in the action film Rowdy Rathore (2012).
Thankfully, there was no anger on display at the event, only smiles all around. Akshay Kumar will next be seen in the period drama Kesari, produced by Karan Johar. The film is scheduled for release next year.