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Akshay Kumar was not sure about playing a God in OMG, Umesh Shukla reveals why

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Filmmaker Umesh Shukla has said that Akshay Kumar was initially not too sure of playing the role of Lord Krishna in their 2012 film OMG – Oh My God!, because Amitabh Bachchan as God did not really do wonders in God Tussi Great Ho (2008). Umesh is currently promoting his upcoming film Aankh Micholi which features Abhimanyu Dassani, Paresh Rawal, Mrunal Thakur, Divya Dutta, Vijay Raaz, Abhishek Banerjee, and Sharman Joshi. In a new exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Umesh talked about his new film, his equation with Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar, and much more. (Also read| Mrunal Thakur: I don’t want to be tagged by labels or languages)

Akshay Kumar first played the role of God in Umesh Shukla's OMG Oh My God!
Akshay Kumar first played the role of God in Umesh Shukla’s OMG Oh My God!

Umesh Shukla on working with Akshay before OMG

Umesh first worked as a co-actor with Akshay Kumar in Khiladion Ka Khiladi. Reminded about the time, the filmmaker said, “Yes, as an actor. Actually, I also wrote a lot of films (featuring the Bollywood star), as an assistant to Neeraj Vora. I wrote Hera Pheri, Aawara Pagal Deewana, Deewane Hue Pagal, and Ajnabee (among a few others). So I was involved in a lot of films with him (Akshay), and I met him regularly. I knew him (before casting him in OMG). But it was Paresh Rawal ji’s relationship with Akshay (which was very good) and that is how we were able to meet him very easily (for the 2012 film).”

Umesh recalls why Akshay wasn’t sure of playing God

Recalling the time he approached Akshay Kumar to play the role of Krishna in OMG, Umesh said, “When we told Akshay bhai about this, initially he had that thing. ‘This is a God, how will I play God’s character?’ He was in a double mind at that time, because there was another film that had released around that time and it featured Bachchan sir as a God but it did not quite work. So he (Akshay) thought ‘How will I play God’s character when Bachchan sir could not’. For him, it was like this. But when he saw the play (Kanji Virudh Kanji, Umesh Shukla’s play on which the film was based), he understood. It (Akshay’s role) was a quite fleshed-out character. So he agreed soon.”

Amitabh essayed the role of God in Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra-starrer God Tussi Great Ho which released in 2008. Directed by Rumi Jaffery, the film also featured Beena Kak and Anupam Kher. God Tussi Great Ho proved to be a box office dud and was among the major flops that year.

Asked if he was skeptical of creating a God’s character in today’s world, Umesh added, “No, I didn’t get it (while making the film). Because I had already done the play. My homework was already ready. I had seen its live response in the play. So in the experiment, it was like this – I get an audience (who buy) tickets worth 50 and then there are those who buy tickets for 500 or even 750 maybe. (I had seen the) unanimous reaction of all those people. So I was not really skeptical. Of course, when I was (skeptical) while writing it. When we were creating the character.”

He said, “It was at that time that I wondered if people might compare it to something like this very old Sanjeev Kumar film (Yeh Hai Zindagi, 1977). In that film, God appeared in those clothes, you know Godf appeared as a God. So we kept thinking about how would God look if he were to appear in today’s time. How will it happen? We tried and created something.”

‘Akshay Kumar is very adaptive’

The filmmaker also said that Akshay’s discipline is now a widely-known fact, and added, “(He is) Very adaptive. Discipline is what everyone says now. That he comes at the right time, but he is very adaptive. He never has (directives) about what to do. I really feel that he adapts things very fast. He understands the grammar. I mean, he understands the script very well.”

Was Umesh ever working on OMG 2?

A few years ago, there were reports that Umesh had an idea for OMG 2 and was in talks with the producers. The negotiations could not materialise and Amit Rai went on to make the sequel that released earlier this year. Refuting the reports, Umesh said, “No, no, no. I was working on some other script. That’s why it didn’t materialise. And this film (OMG 2) is also very good. Very good. And Amit (director Amit Rai) is a very dear friend who made the film. He made a very good film. The characters were (already) in place, they were already there. What was the best thing to do about it then? (Get a good script involving those characters) And, he (Amit) came up with a really good script. And it really worked. “

Why was the release date of Aankh Micholi shifted?

Talking about his upcoming film Aankh Micholi, Umesh said that it is a very “neat and clean” family film that can be enjoyed with everyone. The film was set for a theatrical release on October 27. However, the producers have shifted it to a November 3 release. Asked about the change in the movie’s release date, Umesh said, “We just thought that releasing the family film around Diwali would be a better idea. It is a neat and clean film that can be enjoyed with kids, and everyone.”

Kader Khan and Mrunal’c character in Aankh Micholi

The trailer of Aankh Micholi shows Mrunal as a young girl with night blindness, and her family wants her to hide her illness from her soon-to-be husband. While many may have been reminded of Kader Khan‘s character from the 90s hit Bol Radha Bol, Umesh was actually inspired by incidents in his own family. “Only Mrunal Thakur‘s character may remind you of that. But the premise (of hiding basic facts about bride or groom), is something that happens around us. Actually, it happened with my sister.”

He added, “So we had fixed a match for her but only a week before the marriage, we got to know that the guy had night blindness. We were shocked. There was no need to hide it, they should have shared it with us and we could have taken things in a different way.”

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