Acting is my passion, and I entered politics because I aspire to do something for my soul, my people, and my country.
Interview Times got the chance to interact with Odia film industry heartthrob Actor, Politician, and Social Activist Akash Das Nayak. Bestowed with many awards such as Best Actor in State Film Award, Prince of Ollywood Award, Jaymala Samman, etc. for a vast collection of his movies, and social works, he has always won the hearts of the Odia audience.
Being a politician and Social Activist, he has also been immensely working for his people and his state Odisha.
We were awestruck by his politeness, his vision, and his gratitude toward life. We never felt stardom in his words. He might consider his inability to say ‘No’ as his weakness, but we believe it’s his biggest strength.
It’s a tough job to be a politician, but being an actor ain’t easy either.
Tushant: We always find you smiling, whether in interviews or during public interaction. What is the secret of your heartwarming smile?
I feel people should always smile, no matter what. I believe one should always be grateful for everything they have in life and strongly believe in gratitude. I never forget to thank the almighty God. I keep smiling, have imbibed this since my childhood. Though I am known for playing the role of an action hero, in real life, I am all smiles because it helps us to conquer our life challenges.
Yogita: You spend your birthdays with special children, in Old Age Homes, and make their day special. Would you like to share your experience?
I have been doing it for 15 years. I always feel ordinary people celebrate special occasions, festivals with their family. In comparison, these innocent people do not have a family. They are a family to me.
That’s why I celebrate special days like my birthdays, Holi, Diwali with them. I feel a more profound sense of satisfaction when I connect with them when they laugh or enjoy themselves.
And most importantly, their love is the purest. Not as a celebrity, but they love me like their own brother. I genuinely love every moment of it. I feel, and always say, the more you spread happiness, the more will come to you.
Tushant: You have been designated as the Chief of the Mo college initiative. How is the response of the Alumni to their alma maters?
Mo college could not be launched due to the uproar of COVID-19. But it will be launched very shortly, and I hope to receive a great response.
Moreover, we have also mapped out further plans for our initiative. We are planning to connect our alumni of Odisha colleges worldwide to their alma mater and ask them if they could contribute to their colleges.
But most importantly, we also aim to approach doctors, journalists, and other prominent personalities who have studied from Odisha to contribute to their colleges.
For example, we can ask doctors to give two hours of their day to health check-up of students, or if they are a scientist, we could ask them to conduct webinars for our students. I believe it will bring more outlook to our students’ vision and career.
We had even planned our successful alumni meet to take two lectures a week, one but due to COVID-19, it’s on half way. Suppose, a prosperous farmer, an artist can share their experience and can guide students correctly.
Yogita: How has COVID-19 affected your lifestyle and your work? As you are a social worker, how did you contribute during COVID-19?
In the initial days, we spent our days at home, but later we coordinated with the government to bring back our people who were miserably stranded in other areas of our country.
I received many distress calls and tried my level best to mitigate the problems of masses. As I have an organization named Udra Charitable Trust, we help the under-privileged masses through it. Moreover, we have distributed masks and sanitizers amidst lockdown.
No doubt, Covid-19 has become catastrophic for everyone; on the contrary, it helped me make moments with my family, which I couldn’t do for a long time. For the last few years, I have been tied up with work, acting, and politics, but recently, I could spare some time to pursue my forgotten hobbies of reading and watching movies. I finally got the chance to watch long due movies during the lockdown phase.
Yogita: We have last seen you in Herogiri. What are your upcoming projects?
I have signed two upcoming movies titled Premo Na pagalpan and Mahabahu. Former is an amalgam of Intense love story and action, and the latter revolves around social-related issues. I am currently shooting for one, and for the other, shooting is supposed to begin soon.
Tushant: In terms of responsibility, acting, or politics?
A politician has a lot of responsibility because of the high expectations of the common public. When you are in a constitutional post, you have a tremendous responsibility.
Besides, I would say that even when politicians do their utmost for the public, we cannot be their hero. We cannot fulfill everything. The primary reason behind this is we are accountable for many things, and associating with everyone in the constituency seems improbable, which leads to continuous pressure on us.
“It’s a tough job to be a politician, but being an actor ain’t easy either”, he quips.
Being an actor, you have to perform multiple characters, and it is sometimes challenging to adapt to someone’s peculiar personality merely. I entered politics because I aspire to do something for my soul, my people, my country.
I experience a sense of satisfaction when I accomplish my duties as a politician for my people. On the other hand, being an actor fulfills my passion, where I make my audience perceive emotions through my work.
Yogita: What do you look for before signing a movie?
I always look for the storyline and my character. If I like it, I approve of the project.
Tushant: What are your suggestions to revamp the Odia film industry as recently it has been targeted for re-making Bollywood and the Southern movies?
I ardently believe the Odia film industry needs a revolution. It’s not a one-person job. Actors, directors, producers, writers, and even the most predominant part of the film industry, viewers, need to work hard to create a long-expected quantum leap in our industry. One man cannot shoulder the responsibility of initiating the notable change in the entire film industry even if he wants to.
It is no wrong to say our industry has good movies on original plots, but people are not watching it. On the other hand, they want to earn an enormous amount merely by the re-make of commercially successful films from other regions.
I believe even If you are making movies based on their plots, you can choose to transform it Odia style, you can pick many revolutionary scenarios our soil offers, or you can make biopics of such legendary people born in Odisha.
No doubt, directors, writers, and even the producers are gradually trying to firm the foundation of our industry, grasping the need of the time, and working towards the common goal. I believe there will be a watershed event in Odia Film Industry soon.
Tushant: In your opinion, how important is it to conduct a student body election in colleges?
Student body elections need to be held only in a transparent and fairway. But in recent times, the involvement of foreign interference makes the election environment bitter. In my opinion, election or not, but today’s youth should keep an interest in active politics in the state and the center.
But I’m afraid I have to disagree with the pre-requirement of fighting the state election only if you have fought the student body election. I never contested an election in my college, but I did win on the ground.
Yogita: What piece of advice do you have for young aspiring actors?
When I wanted to be an actor, I didn’t know much. I will answer it in two-fold for every aspirant; actor, writer, journalist, etc. The first key is to be curious about it; I asked many questions when I entered the industry. Even in the bible, it’s written: “ask thou shalt receive“.
Only if you ask, you would know. It would be best if you learned the art of asking the right questions. You need to reach prominent figures who are already successful in the career you are ought to choose and follow their advice.
Another key to success is to work hard. There is no alternative to it. It would help if you learned the basics of acting like you do for any career. We need to get specialized training for our profession.
There was a time when acting used to be chosen by a few, but today in the digitalized world, with all the web series having taken a momentum, there is a broader scope for every budding artist. All in all, whatever you do in your life, always remember hard work has no alternative.
Rapid Fire Questions:
The best compliment you ever got: Smile
Your best movie: Aalo Mora Kandhei
Politics or Acting: one is my passion; other is my responsibility.
Fav holiday destination: Any place with mountains.
One thing that you learned the hard way: There is no shortcut to success.
Your biggest strength: My honesty and simplicity.
My biggest weakness: I cannot say no to anyone.
Interviewed and Written by Yogita Malhotra and Tushant Baranwal