Akshay Kumar called his role in Shankar’s upcoming film 2.0 “an experience and an experiment” at a media event in Mumbai on Monday. Kumar makes his Tamil film debut with 2.0, in which he plays Dr Richard, a mutant scientist who wages a war against cellphone technology and clashes with Rajinikanth’s robot Chitti. The film will be released on November 29 in Tamil, Hindu and Telugu.
“When Shankar narrated the script to me over two-and-a-half hours, I was completely bowled over,” Kumar said. “I had never heard a screenplay like this. It was an experience and an experiment. I have done many social films, but this is one social film that speaks about an international message. I was surprised as to why nobody else had thought of such a story.”
Shankar’s film picks up from where his 2010 production Enthiran left off. Rajinikanth reprise his roles as the scientist Vaseegaran and his robotic creation Chitti. The sequel also stars Amy Jackson and Adil Hussain, and has been made on an alleged budget of over Rs 500 crores, with most of the money spent on visual effects and 3D technology.
“This is the best technical film India has produced,” Kumar said. “It is not a film that has been transformed into 3D, but an original 3D film where you can feel every beat of it. Mr Shankar is equivalent to James Cameron on steroids. Everything in the film is larger than life. We cannot compete with international films because their budget is 17 times higher. But in Rs 510 crores, they cannot make what we have produced here.”
Kumar had to undergo extensive prosthetic make-up for his character, who is depicted as half-human and half-bird. “It was a painful process,” Kumar recalled. “The make-up took around three-and-a-half hours. It took another one-and-a-half hours to remove the look. But when you go back to sleep, you know that you have to repeat the same drill the next day.”
Although Rajinikanth recently named Kumar’s character as the film’s highlight, Kumar insisted that 2.0 was Rajinikanth’s magnum opus. “2.0 is very much Rajinikanth ji’s film and I am the Amrish Puri of the movie,” Kumar said. “It is amazing how he transforms every dialogue into something huge. He puts entertainment into every line he says. He is very professional and humble. He is what he is and that speaks a lot about him.”
The actor also lauded the Tamil film industry’s professionalism, saying he was open to further collaborations. “The South is advanced in technology,” he said. “They are also very professional. If they want the shoot to start at 7.30 am, it starts on that time. They shoot about 35 to 40 shots in a day compared to the 13 shots that we [Hindi film industry] shoot in a day. They do not take others for granted and they value everyone’s time.”
Among Kumar’s upcoming films is Mission Mangal, a biopic on the team of women behind the historic launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Mangalyaan space probe in 2013. Produced by Kumar, the film also stars Kirti Kulhari, Tapsee Pannu, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha and Nithya Menen.
“I am very happy to see these five women come together,” Kumar said. “They are all very big in their own way, and they are not bothered that there are five heroines in the film. I don’t think five heroes will come together like this. But when I approached them, they were all happy to play their characters.”