Bade Miyan Chote Miyan
Bade Miyan Chote Miyan Image Credit: Supplied

Bollywood actors Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff have no qualms admitting that their Eid release, ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ (BMCM), is India’s sassy answer to Hollywood hit buddy cop franchise ‘Bad Boys’, starring Will Smith. This was their unanimous response when Gulf News tried to find out more about their characters in the latest Ali Abbas Zafar directorial and how he convinced two of Bollywood’s most disciplined and bankable talents to jump aboard BMCM, out in UAE cinemas tomorrow.

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Just like ‘Bad Boys’, often described as chums-meets-guns action comedy filled with spectacular stunts and comic cop banter, the glossy BMCM seems to follow a similar trajectory. It will be a visual explosion of car chases, helicopter face-offs, and actors with indomitable physical prowess doing a string of superhero antics.

“He [director Ali Abbas Zafar] just gave us the ‘Bad Boys’ script,” said Akshay Kumar with a laugh in a joint interview with Gulf News. “I don’t mind even saying that this is one of the best films that India has ever produced and is India’s answer to ‘Bad Boys’.” While his claim might come across as a tall one, credit is due to the director and producers for pulling off a movie feature film with more than one recognisable and famous face. Every director and producer from Hindi cinema has lamented about how it’s almost impossible to pull off an Avengers-like multi-hero project in Bollywood due to clashing dates, egos, and fear of being sidelined. But Shroff and Akshay Kumar have no such fears.

During the interview, their camaraderie and brotherhood were on full display. “But that’s how any ‘wood’ — be it Hollywood or Bollywood — should function. We should all be together. Creating a movie is like creating furniture,” said Kumar. While comparing a high-octane, mega-budget film like ‘BMCM’ — shot across Jordan, Abu Dhabi, London, and Mumbai — to a piece of furniture might seem reductive, Kumar believes that multi-hero films should not be anathema for modern-day actors. “More people should do such films in our industry — they should come out with movies that have three, four, and five heroes in them,” said Kumar.

Shroff, son of Jackie Shroff, agrees. “When you are looking at films like Avengers, we all feel so happy when we see these big actors come together. We should have a similar thing going on here … Sir [Akshay Kumar] used to do it with Suniel Shetty, Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan and deliver some of the biggest back-to-back hits. Fans love seeing our heroes together,” said Shroff.

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This is how Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff spent Valentine's Day, a nod to their great bonding.

While Shroff, 33, might address Kumar reverentially as ‘sir’, the two tell us that there was no hint of rivalry between them. Gulf News, which was invited to visit their filming sets while they were shooting a song in Jordan’s Wadi Rum, can also vouch that these two were synchronised not just in their dance moves but also in their vision to make this film a cracking commercial enterprise.

“Competing is not good. I don’t believe in competition. Yesterday, we had gone to the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi and the swamiji [priest] was telling us that even the term ‘healthy competition’ isn’t healthy because it indicates tension … We were so good with each other and it’s never about how many somersaults or kicks Tiger gets to do or how many I get to, everything works together. A film runs only if you are together,” said Kumar, adding that energies on a set should always be positive. Speaking of good energies, the atmosphere as they filmed a song in Jordan was a vibrant one. Despite freezing temperatures, Akshay Kumar and Shroff were more than happy to dance atop a cliff with bronzed torsos and wispy linen jackets. It did nothing to save them from the cold, but the two were seen in great form — joking and doing multiple takes to get their dance moves right.

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A film runs only if you are together, says Akshay Kumar.

“But we were not pretending. We were actually happy. Where do you get a job where you get a first-class ticket and you get to go to amazing places like Jordan where they shot ‘Star Wars’? There were 300 people taking care of us, getting us warm rotis [bread] … Don’t you think we should be thankful and happy? I am so grateful to be here,” said Kumar.

This self-made actor, who has thrived in Bollywood for over three decades, is a portrait of grit and resilience and constantly reminds us that he never takes his success or superstardom for granted.

Tiger Shroff, whose father is a famous actor, nods and lightens the mood with: “Dancing on that cliff was like a cardio session throughout those days and I love cardio.”

While both enjoyed jumping off helicopters and executing backflips in mid-air as cars exploded in the background, both these actors found filming at night challenging. “We both sleep early, but there’s one mission where it had to be shot in the night. We were both half-asleep but we pushed each other to get it done right.”

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This is a larger-than-life film and is not some social messaging film …. But you cannot deny the amount of work that has gone into this project, says Akshay Kumar.

While such films — high on stunts, slapstick comedy — are unapologetic commercial enterprises, it rarely curries favour with critics. For instance, Will Smith’s ‘Bad Boys’ set the box office registers ringing, but the reviews were far from favourable. And Akshay Kumar and Shroff are keenly aware of this curse attached to blockbuster-friendly action set pieces. “But I will be grateful to the critics to remember that this is a larger-than-life film and is not some social messaging film …. But you cannot deny the amount of work that has gone into this project and respect that … BMCM is one of the finest action films that has ever been made,” said Kumar.

He also reminds us that stunts can easily go wrong and these actors and stunt experts often put their lives on the line for a compelling action scene. “You have to be very careful. It doesn’t matter how big or small the stunt is. Anything can happen even if you are jumping from a coffee table. I know people who have broken ankles and were injured for six months … I know people who die while executing the smallest of stunts … So give this movie that respect.”

Did you know?

Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff rarely have a day when they don’t head to the gym and pump iron. While Shroff battles the rare case of laziness with more determination, Kumar watches Friends — five or six episodes at a stretch with jalebis and rabri [Indian calorific sweets] in hand — but returns to the gym the next day and punishes himself for that lazy day.

Don’t Miss It!

‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ is out in UAE cinemas on April 10