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    Audience is best judge: Akshay Kapoor

    [Interview by Subhash K Jha]
    Tuesday, October 05, 2004
    Akshay Kapoor, whose debut film "Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao" has just been released, sounds philosophical about its prospects.
    "The audience is the best judge of what it wants to see," Akshay, with a characteristic yankee twang, told IANS in an interview.
    He says some people told him the second half of the film was a little too heavy. However, he feels director Kabir Sadanand had a vision and that he is inclined to go with that vision.
    Akshay says he loved working with Kabir.
    "Some people tell me the second-half is a little too heavy. Personally I feel director Kabir Sadanand had a vision. I feel we must go by that vision."
    How did you like it working with Kabir?
    "The biggest advantage of having him as my first director was... he's an actor himself. He knew how to mould a newcomer before the camera. When you're on stage you get feedback immediately. But on camera it's difficult to know whether you're connecting with the audience.
    "Kabir showed me how to touch the audience through the camera. I'll always be grateful to him for that. He gave me a great deal of confidence. Fortunately I'm in 98 out of 100 frames, so to speak. Which newcomer gets a break like that? I had to look dumb before the camera and I think I managed that. I hope I'll look less dumb in my second film, ha... ha..."
    Don't underestimate him. The latest Kapoor in town is a trained actor.
    "Though 'Popcorn Khao...' is my first time in front of the camera, I'm a trained theatre actor. I've done Shakespeare in London. And I've done four years of acting in New York. And did two Broadway plays, 'Tape' and 'Question Of Mercy'.
    Akshay played an AIDS victim in "Question Of Mercy".
    "I try to convince the doctor to let me commit suicide. In 'Tape' I play a cocaine addict. So there's a lot of variety in my past acting experiences."
    How did a Hindi film happen?
    "I met Pritish Uncle (Pritish Nandy) at the Bollywood Awards in New York. I've spent all my years since the age of 10 in New York. Started acting from age nine. I came back to Mumbai last year. I got my photographs done and showed them to Pritish uncle. They told me they had no scripts. I thought that was their way of saying no. But two months later I got a call asking me to audition for 'Popcorn...' And I was in!"
    Now Akshay Kapoor is a full Mumbai boy.
    "I've come back after so many years. Mumbai has changed. The film industry has changed. Our movies have changed. We've gone from peanuts to 'Popcorn...' Initially I did feel a little lost in Mumbai. My old friends had all left. I had to make new friends. It was very tough. But I believe god closes and opens doors with a reason. I'm a very spiritual person. Now I feel like a Bombay boy."
    Akshay isn't counting on his debut as a dreamboat's launchpad.
    "I see 'Popcorn Khao...' as a foot in the door. The other day I watched the film with an audience and I felt there was tremendous room for improvement in me."

    Now there's another assignment from the Pritish Nandy Communications. "I don't know what 'Popcorn Khao...' Will do to my career. I still have to prove to the audience that I'm here to stay. I never expected to be a superstar from day one. After all I've no family in the film industry. But I look at the king of Bollywood Mr. Shah Rukh Khan and I'm encouraged. He's a complete outsider, isn't he? People ask me about my filmy name. Well Akshay Kumar and Akshay Khanna are successful actors. One is an outsider like me, the other belongs to a film family. And they're both successful, and I hope so will I."


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