From one khiladi to another...the much-touted non-interview has got to be the silliest political gimmick of this very, very silly season! The question is: Who emerged as Khiladi No. 1 in this corny exercise? The guy who performs stunts on screen - or the guy who performs stunts non-stop in real life? No body doubles needed for either of these men. We know the chest size of one player. I want the brain sizes of both after this. Fans of the actor (actually, both men qualify as hammy actors) are left wondering what the hell Akshay was doing gabbing with the garrulous Mr. Modi? Akshay Kumar is known for his brawn. Narendra Modi is known for his...for his...well, brawn, too. In terms of dialogue-baazi - they are well-matched. We are guessing they don't share the same dialogue writer though, even if their lines remain equally cheesy. Akshay lets his muscles do most of the talking. Narendra Modi prefers muscle power. End results are the same - they pulverize enemies on screen, and off. Akshay Kumar is a fitness freak who does not smoke or drink. Ditto for Narendra Modi. B-O-R-I-N-G! Both are early risers. And exceedingly self-focused. Akshay Kumar doesn't socialize with film industry colleagues. And there aren't too many regular folks who want to socialize with Narendra Modi, either. Akshay Kumar has Twinkle Khanna by his side. Narendra Modi has Amit Shah. Take your pick.
Coming to the flop interview...ummm...was it just an innocuous Kesari-coloured chit-chat? The film (Akshay's 'Kesari') has done very well at the box office, and doesn't need the Prime Minister's endorsement. Then? First came the tantalizing Akshay tweet.
Getting into an unknown and uncharted territory today. Doing something I have never done before. Excited and nervous both. Stay tuned for updates.— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) April 22, 2019
And everybody waited for the announcement - Akshay Kumar has joined the BJP. That didn't happen. Since half of Bollywood's senior stars are busy joining political parties of different hues and apparently getting paid more than they'd ever earn in movies, people said, "Chalo...one more." But no! It was a teaser trailer for the 'interview'. Why was Akshay picked for this assignment? Why not Vivek Oberoi? Anupam Kher? Any other loyalist? Why not one of the three Khans? Now that would have been a major coup. But why would the Khans do something as dicey? They are far too smart to get into hot water with their fan base. Money be damned. Aha - Mr. Modi likes to take people by surprise. Stealth attacks suit his style far more than a straight up approach. Besides, let's face it - Akshay is a big enough star, who has passed the loyalty test with flying colours. Take a look at his past few films ('Padman', 'Gold'). They are brilliant examples of political messaging packaged as entertainment. When I watched 'Toilet - Ek Prem Katha', I was impressed by the shrewdness of the theme...at that point, I stupidly thought Akshay had cashed in on Narendra Modi's aggressive campaign to 'clean up' India. Get rid of all the excreta. Alas, there is more excreta all around us today than ever before!
Someone asked me, "What was the point of this interview?" Good question. Any answers? Anyone? To describe it as Modi's 'surgical strike', filmi-ishtyle, before D-Day would be to pay it a huge compliment. As banalities piled up by the second, and more inanities followed while both the colour-coordinated men strolled across the Prime Minister's manicured lawns, I could only think: if two bad actors attempt a blockbuster, with no director, no script-writer, no supporting cast in sight, the result is called a turkey. Forget walking the talk - there was no talk to walk! "Sachh... aap Gujarati hain?" asked Akshay, attempting a lame joke. Poor guy. At which point, I switched off. Why did he do it? Kyon, Akshay, kyon? He established just one thing: a mediocre actor makes an even worse interviewer. Does anybody want to know the Prime Minister's considered views on mangoes? Fashion? Fashion, mind you. Not to be mixed up with fascism, okay? Khiladi Kumar should stick to Taekwondo in future.
And the hamper should go to the gardener mowing the Prime Minister's lawn.
(Shobhaa De is an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator, who is considered an authority on popular culture.)
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