Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is keen to close 2019 on a witty note with his ensemble comedy ‘Good Newwz’, out in the UAE on December 27.
“We want to show a journey of two families undergoing IVF [in vitro fertilisation] treatment through a comedic lens and despite some goof up we hope through the film’s treatment the message reaches out to many Indian families about family, love and the miracle of life,” said Kumar in an email interview.
Accompanying him on this bumpy ride are seasoned actors Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani. Kapoor Khan plays his wife, while Dosanjh and Advani play another loved-up, loud Punjabi couple.
Imagine this: two couples with the same last name — the Batras — are expecting a baby, but their happiness hits a roadblock when they realise that there was sperm mix-up during their fertility treatment at the hospital. A comedy of errors ensues once the irrevocable switch takes place and they are expecting a baby that doesn’t belong to them biologically.
Excerpts from our interview with Kumar who chose to duck sticky questions about politics just like Salman Khan during ‘Dabangg 3’ and opted to play it safe with responses about his new film and his parenting skills ...
‘Good Newwz’ is a comedy with a bizarre, freak sperm mix-up … What would you do if it happened to you and Twinkle Khanna in real life?
It’s really sad, but there are very rare cases in which sperms get mixed up. It is very unfortunate and I don’t know how a couple would react to it. But a rare case of mix up shouldn’t undermine the importance of the breakthrough research that IVF is. It is a path-breaking technology which has given hope and joy to more than eight million couples across the world in starting their families. At the end of the day, love is love and nothing can compete with the joy that a child brings to any parent’s life.
‘Good Newwz’ dwells on the worst pregnant parent’s nightmare. What was director Raj Mehta’s brief?
We wanted to keep the story entertaining and sincere while retaining the witty elements. The brief was simple: just immerse yourself in the character’s shoes and take a moment to really understand their plight and the mixed bag of emotions they must have been facing during those nine months.
What kind of a parent are you?
Watching your children born is the most positively transformational experience any parent could wish for. I am eternally grateful to have been blessed with the most beautiful children who have enriched my life and soul. It is weird, but fatherhood is something I was unqualified to do, but I have become qualified along the way. I am now a bit of a pro while doing it. As much as I would like to call myself a perfect parent, I would actually call myself a real parent.
Usually Indian men don’t like talking about pregnancies, morning sickness and fatigue that sets in. Have you brought pregnancies out of the closet, despite having this macho image?
When it comes to conceiving a child and having a healthy pregnancy, the focus has long been on women. Of course, we all know that male and female partners contribute equally to fertility and the success or difficulty of getting pregnant. But sadly, historically women have unfairly and inaccurately received the brunt of the blame when couples couldn’t conceive or when a woman had a difficult pregnancy or if there were complications. In ‘Good Newwz’ we show the emotions and feelings that engulf both parents during pregnancies, and how both have a deeper role to play during pregnancies. I sincerely do hope our male audiences will become a lot more sympathetic of pregnant women — all it takes is empathy. I have immense respect for all expecting mothers — Diljit and I conducted a small test to experience labour pain. It was a small step to understand what mothers go through and we failed. Pregnancies are harder than anyone can imagine.
What was your first reaction to hearing the story of ‘Good Newwz’, a movie that has other stellar actors like Kareena Kapoor Khan? Did the prospect of not dominating every scene intimidate you?
Karan [Johar, producer of ‘Good Newwz’] had actually come to me with another script and after finishing a two and a half hour narration of that film I happened to ask him what else he’s making and he said there’s a small film with Kareena and a new director. I requested him to tell me the crux of that film in two minutes and I loved it so much that I told him leave the earlier one he just narrated and let’s make this one. Then Raj Mehta, who is debuting with this brilliant story in ‘Good Newwz’ came to me with a bound script when I was in the Himalayas shooting action sequences for ‘Kesari’ and I was all the more convinced. Subsequently, Diljit and Kiara came on board. There were absolutely no fears of not dominating every scene. As an actor working with such a stellar star cast, you never think about these things. The characters are very well-written, each of us have given our best shot and the story has such a heart-warming message that questions of dominating are so secondary.
What would you like to say to all those couples who are trying hard to have a baby — IVF or any other method?
I would just say that IVF, surrogacy or adoption are all amazing and incredible ways of giving and creating life for others.
What have you learnt so far about children and parenting over the years?
As a parent, the one thing I have learnt is my role is still a work in progress, I’m learning every day still. I am very protective of my children but I have learnt to not impose myself and let them figure out their own paths in life when they’re at the stage to. As for what I have learnt about children, well, firstly, they’re smarter than you think. Jokes aside, I’ve learnt that while we try to teach our children about life, giving them essential life learnings and lessons, you come to realise that they’re actually teaching us what life is all about.
What is your take on modern day couples going: ‘We are pregnant’. Isn’t it women doing all the hard work?
Women definitely do the hard work of bearing the child in their womb for nine long months and harbouring the physical, mental pain associated with pregnancy. But a child is a product of both genders and the process of bearing the child to raising it should be a collective effort. Modern day couples going ‘we are pregnant’ is symbolic of their efforts in equal participation towards sharing responsibilities associated with childbirth. The support of a wonderful partner can definitely ease the pain women undergo during the process of birthing children.
Akshay Kumar’s New Year’s resolution: “I think everyone should try to have less opinions of people and more love, just give love towards anyone and everyone, and just see the positivity unfold.”
“Nothing beats the good news my wife gave me when we found out that my son and daughter were on their way,” Akshay Kumar on what he terms as ‘good news’ in his life.
Wondering about the spelling of this film?
“I had nothing to do with the spelling change, it was actually suggested by my director Raj [Mehta]. Being his first film he got a little paranoid and requested for this new spelling and the good people at Dharma Productions were kind enough to incorporate it,” said Akshay Kumar.
Don’t miss it!
‘Good Newwz’ releases in the UAE on December 27.