Indian movie star Akshay Kumar unfazed by scathing reviews of his new movie Rustom

Akshay Kumar plays a naval officer on trial for the murder of his wife's lover in Rustom.
Akshay Kumar plays a naval officer on trial for the murder of his wife's lover in Rustom.PHOTO: ZEE STUDIOS

Indian actor Akshay Kumar takes criticisms of his latest film Rustom in his stride and says his priority is to please the audience

Indian actor Akshay Kumar is unfazed by negative reviews of his latest film Rustom.

The feature, where he plays a naval officer on trial for the murder of his wife's lover, is an attempt at a serious, dramatic role for the star, who made his name playing action and comedic roles.

His priority is to please the audience.

"For me, it will always be my audiences' perception - it is them whom I work hard for," says Kumar, 48, in an e-mail interview with The Straits Times.

The reviews are a handful of opinions made by a handful of people. An actor must spend his career taking whatever is thrown at him and turn it into butter

INDIAN ACTOR AKSHAY KUMAR

He adopts a practical attitude towards critics and reviews, saying: "The reviews are a handful of opinions made by a handful of people. An actor must spend his career taking whatever is thrown at him and turn it into butter - let that stuff slide, whether it's good, bad or indifferent.

"Box-office takings are the cherry on a successful cake," adds the actor, who has a 25-year career in Bollywood.

According to Indian media reports, Rustom is his fastest film to hit the 100-crore mark (S$20.1 million) - in nine days, beating his previous film Airlift, which managed the feat in 10 days. The film opened in India and Singapore on Aug 12.

His role in Rustom, which is based on a real-life case, is part of his plan to give every genre of cinema an "equal opportunity". He points out that he has already ticked off a dream role - that of a gay man.

He says he is proud to be among the first of Bollywood's A-list actors to play a gay character, in the buddy cop film Dishoom.

Other actors who have famously played gay characters are Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham in the 2008 comedy Dostana.

Kumar says: "Earlier this year, I said on national TV that I've always wanted to play a gay man as it's the only role left on my bucket list. Within months of that statement, I had a cameo in Dishoom, which was released last month. I couldn't be more proud."

While he is better known as the action star of the Khiladi series of films, he has in recent years ventured into more serious, character-driven roles such as a businessman in war-torn Kuwait in Airlift (2016) and a mixed martial arts fighter in sports drama Brothers (2015).

"I will always adore action and comedies, but there will always be a place in my heart now for something with an edge," says Kumar, who is married to actress Twinkle Khanna and has a son and a daughter. His son Aarav studies at United World College of South East Asia in Tampines.

Next up for Kumar is the role of a villainous scientist opposite Kollywood superstar Rajinikanth in 2.0, a sci-fi follow-up to 2010's Enthiran.

The film is expected to be released next year. It also marks his first foray into the Tamil film industry.

Explaining that he treats every role as a gift, he says: "I choose to make films that push my boundaries, not ones that I'm pushed into.

"Age has taught me one thing - never look a gift horse in the mouth. So I promised myself I'd give every genre of cinema an equal opportunity and never say no because no matter how scary a decision may be, faith is all you need."

•Rustom is showing at Golden Village VivoCity, Tampines and Yishun; Rex Cinemas; and Bombay Talkies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Bad review? Let it slide like butter'. Print Edition | Subscribe