“This story should be close to everyone’s heart. Surprisingly, our history books don’t have the slightest mention of it,” starts off Akshay Kumar, who is bringing the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi to the big screen, in Kesari, reports Mid-day.
Immersed in the promotions of the Holi release, the actor says the film is another attempt to train the spotlight on home-grown stories. “Google has named it amongst the five most valiant battles of all time. In Britain, people celebrate Saragarhi Day, and here, our kids have no idea about the war where 21 men took on an army of 10,000 people, knowing that they will die. They managed to kill 900 people. We are so happy to see a fictitious film like 300 (2006), but don’t celebrate our real stories of bravery enough. After Kesari, I hope this chapter is added to history books.”The past few years have witnessed a dramatic shift in Kumar’s choice of films. Ask him if he is consciously on the lookout for stories that are a reflection of our country, and he admits that he has a soft spot for them. “We don’t need Hollywood, our country is full of incredible stories. I don’t take credit for finding them. The credit for PadMan (2018) goes to Twinkle [wife and producer]. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017) was discovered by Neeraj [Pandey, producer] and Airlift (2016) is Nikkhil’s [Advani] idea. I take the credit for backing these stories.”
At 51, Kumar refuses to get trapped in the image of a superstar and is evidently fearless in his choices. He has an eclectic slate of movies that include a laugh riot in Housefull 4, a sci-fi drama in Mission Mangal and an actioner in Sooryavanshi. “When I started out, I was tagged an action hero, Khiladi Kumar. I would go to the set where I would be told, ‘Aaj paanch kicks aur ek jump karna hai.’ I stopped enjoying going to work then. Since then, I have consciously worked on not having an image. Today, I have no social agenda, there is no thumb rule to choosing stories. Give me anything that has promise, and I am game.”