Why playing God is no joke
He’s been in more movies than most, playing a host of different roles including a geek, police officer, scientist, gangster and wholesome family man. What could possibly be left? God of course!
In his latest film, released today, the new dad (this week Akshay is also celebrating the birth of his daughter) plays the revered Indian God Lord Krishna in OMG Oh My God.
As you’d expect from his comic past, there’s a good dose of humour in the screenplay which is film based on the hit Gujarati play, Kanji Virrudh Kanji and the Hindi play Kishen vs Kanhaiya. But it doesn’t just star Akshay in his more holy character yet, it’s the first production from his new company Grazing Goat Productions so there’s a lot riding on it. Lets hope God is on his side.
The story centres around antique shop owner and atheist Kanjibhai, played by comedy kingpin Paresh Rawal (Hera Pheri, Golmaal), whose livelihood is literally swept away when an earthquake hits and destroys his shop in Mumbai. OMG Oh My God also stars the talented Mithun Chakraborty (Housefull 2) and features item songs by Akshay’s blockbuster Rowdy Rathore team mates Sonakshi Sinha and Prabhu Deva. The film is directed by Umesh Shukla who also directed the play.
We caught up with Akshay to find out what’s it like to be God.
How religious are you and do you believe there is a God?
For me ‘God’ is everywhere. I respect all decisions made under ‘Gods’ roof and I do not argue with God, I only argue with people that mistreat Gods’ creation and existence on this planet. God is inside me always, my heart is where my temple is. After making this film, in all honesty I have changed my perception of how I worship God. For example, why am I paying Lakhs for me and my family to fly to India’s most prestigious religious places in the hope God will acknowledge my love and devotion more? If God really is who I believe he is, then why am I paying to worship him when I can give that money to helpless children?
You openly worship at religious venues outside of your own religion, why?
I believe in faith rather than religion. I visit all kinds of religious temples, churches, mosques, Gurudwaras, rocks, caves and cliffs all over the world in search of enlightenment, but really I’m just fascinated by our need to prove our devotion. For me, the best thing I love about all these places is, when I go to visit I do feel pure, pure because I know I’m safe, surrounded by people who have come to pray and not to fight. I get to sit down quietly and take in the faithful beauty around me, but my all time favourite place to pray, is at the bottom of my garden, sitting on my wall, looking out at God’s gracious sea, with my family sleeping peacefully behind me. That is when I feel God’s love and protection the most - that is when I feel I’m a good, happy devoted human being. The rest of my time I try to spend helping those less fortunate than myself, to make up for all the time I cannot devote to God’ himself.
Have you ever lost faith in God?
Never… Not even when my father died. My losing faith in God would be my weakness, not his… That is what I love so dearly about my country, even the saddest, most lonely starving person will feed his God before he feeds himself or herself. It’s not about what God gives us, who’s lucky, or who’s had it the hardest. In India, no-one gives up their faith because of circumstance, and that, my friends, is what makes India so special. We put faith before ourselves, which is why we have the most loved country in the world. People’s hearts can never leave India only their bodies leave.
Have there been ‘Oh My God’ moments in your life?
Many! Passing exams. Never having my nose broken when I took up karate. Completing seven Khiladi movies (about to be 8th) with my life intact. Marrying the woman of my dreams. Being a father when I still see myself trying to be the best son. Making a film on ‘man vs God, I can see my father’s face now, he’d love it with all his heart. There are ‘OMG’ moments everyday in all of our lives – it’s whether you acknowledge them, that is the beauty.
Tell us about your role in OMG Oh My God, Lord Krishna …
This is my first film under my new production company Grazing Goat, so the meaning behind this film is more than most can imagine. This is one film I would be so proud to show my father. Despite the fact that the script is extremely close to both mine and Pareshji’s heart, it truly is a beautiful, once in ‘my life time’, screen play. Everyone involved wanted me to play this role, to be honest I would never dream of portraying a God of any kind, anyone that knows me understands my humble shyness to play such an almighty character or in this case, India’s almighty Lord Krishna. But when you have a vision (and a good shove from Pareshji himself) you just can’t turn your back on such an opportunity out of fear of being judged by some negative parties in this world. This film has opened my eyes and my heart more than I thought possible, as an actor and as a devotee to God.
What was the toughest part about playing God?
Living up to the nation’s expectations and perceptions. What my vision might be is someone else’s opinion, so to be true to my vision and respectful to the rest of the world’s lifetime of worshipping, is not an easy task. But really all I had to do was release myself from all negative and impure thoughts and actions, and just be the very being of what I have been praying to for all my years. Was it easy?! No! Was it extraordinary? very much so!
And if you really became God for the day, what would you do?
Of course I would want to heal the world, end all war, crime, poverty, starvation and disease. But would that really be blessing the world, or would mankind come up with something else to destroy our sacred planet?
On a more realistic note, I think all Gods just want people to feel that God is in everyone’s heart, let every single individual feel God’s hand on their shoulder. Rather than changing what God has already provided us, I would just want people to understand this is not our planet to misuse, we are all here on a rental basis, we’re born, we pay our way, we worship our God in thanks of our life, and then we pass away. I would want everyone to remember that we all come from the same place, the sooner we unite, the sooner practically all problems the world over will be solved… But that’s just me!
OMG Oh My God releases worldwide on 28th September 2012.