Akshay Kumar is a name that needs no introduction. Call him the eternal Khiladi, Boss, Singh is King, Rowdy Rathore or Gabbar, the man's composition will remain unperturbed. Over the years Akshay has evolved not just as an actor and Hindi Film Industry performer, but also holistically as a person. His transformation from doing just inconsequential roles in movies to big budget cinema as the lead actor is noteworthy. Today he stands emerged as every bit of the typical Indie star. We have loved him in all his avatars and performances; been amazed by his stunts in action oriented roles, comic timing in romcoms and ability to charm heroines in romantic movies.
Kids love him for his quirky dialogues like 'Don't angry me' and high on drama songs like 'Johnny Johnny' and 'Party All Night'. Women, the old and the young, swoon at his typically beguiling demeanor and masculine charm.
Here's a detailed lowdown on Kumar, his life, the choices he made and how a guy from a small town made it so big especially without any filmy connect or godfather to pave the way for him into the movies.
Born Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia, Akshay was born in a humble family in Amritsar on 9th September, 1967. His dad was a military officer who led the life of an honest man. From a very young age, Akshay had to follow strict army regime like rules in his house for his father was very particular and instilled values such as discipline and punctuality for a healthy and all accomplishing life.
Due to his dad's job they had traveled to several places across the country. After staying in Chandni Chowk, Delhi for a few years Akshay moved with his family permanently to the city of dreams, Mumbai. Since the time he was a little kid, Akshay was fond of performing arts. He would participate in school dancing, acting and singing competitions often and had a penchant to be on stage.
After finishing his schooling from Don Bosco School and graduating from the Guru Nanak Khalsa College he went to Bangkok to learn martial arts and Muay Thai. He even worked as a chef and waiter back there to make ends meet.
Upon returning to India, he was happy imparting martial arts training to students, until one day one of his trainees, a photographer, approached him for a modeling assignment and he readily agreed for it. Not only did that decision bring in some extra bucks to the pocket but also increased his chances of making an entry to the movie industry.
By sheer luck, Kumar's portfolio got noticed and he was signed by a certain Pramod Chakravarthy as the main lead for the movie Deedar. Talk about choppy beginnings. Saugandh (1991) was Akshay's debut film that unfortunately didn't do well at the Box Office after which he had a largely unsuccessful start to his career. His subsequent releases opened to cold response and weren't appreciated.
Not losing his hope, Akshay kept at it and then came 1992, that brought along with it, good times back. Khiladi happened and how; the movie not only was declared a countrywide hit but also shot Kumar to wide fame and stardom. Many considered it to be a career breakthrough for Akshay and there was no looking back for him after that.
Kumar was on a career ride from 1991 to 1999. During this period he saw it all; rough patch with most of his films in 1994 like Kayda Kanoon, Dil Ki Baazi, etc. remaining unsuccessful, to trying out different roles in discrete genres, to winning nominations and awards for stellar performances in films like Dil To Paagal Hai and Sangharsh.
After spending almost a decade in the industry, he became fairly acquainted with the ways and norms of what works with the critics and audiences and what doesn't. In 2000, Kumar's career skyrocketed when he starred in Priyadarshan directed comedy film, Hera Pheri which became commercially and critically acclaimed and marked a turning point in his life making it his career best performance.
From here on, Kumar attempted to break out of the typecast of just being an action hero and manifested his versatility by playing romantic roles in movies like Dhadkan, antihero in Ajnabee and dark/edgy character in Aankhen proving his mettle and getting everybody to praise his acting prowess.
By then, he had established himself as an efficient performer, who could do a dance number with as much ease as he could jump from a cliff and fire a shot from the pistol. Awara Paagal Deewana, Andaz, Khakee, Aan-Men At Work, Aitraaz, Deewane Hue Paagal, Bewafaa, Garam Masala, Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, were some of his considerable performances.
2007 onwards, Kumar emerged as the quintessential Bollywood superstar. Giving back to back hits in a row with interesting content driven movies like Namastey London, Bhool Bhulaiyya, Welcome and Singh is King he inevitably made his way to the top of the charts. During this time he had a fair share of hits, averages and flops at the box office but his stardom remained unfazed. Housefull, Desi boyzz, Housefull 2 had him play interesting roles that connected massively with audiences.
During 2012 to 2014 Kumar consecutively appeared in movies that had very similar character portrayals such as Rowdy Rathore, Khiladi 786, Tees Maar Khan, Joker and Boss and unconsciously established himself as the brawny, flamboyant hero, who has cheeky one liners and idiosyncratic dialogues at his disposal and fights the goons by flying in the air dramatically and amidst all that chaos manages to sing and dance a little too often.
However his last releases particularly in the year 2014-15 did see him depart from the kind of roles he did previously and he was like a breath of fresh air as the duty bound soldier in Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, the efficient security agent in Baby, professor in Gabbar is Back and the brooding wrestler in the recently released Brothers that proved once again how all round this actor can be.
At an event promoting his movie Khiladi 786 (2012)
Kumar has also been a part of grand TV shows such as Fear Factor and MasterChef India. Having a strong background as a stunt artist, makers of the reality program Fear Factor- Khatron Ke Khiladi thought Akshay would make for the perfect host. He performed the role of a presenter for the first and third seasons of the show with much sincerity and became a constant source of inspiration and motivation to contestants in their moment of weakness. He was even the host for the first season of MasterChef India that was co judged by Chef Ajay Chopra and Kunal Kapoor.
On the sets of Khatron Ke Khiladi season 5
Apart from movies, he personally undertakes a lot of relevant causes like running a martial arts school for all interested and provides self-defense training to young girls free of cost. He is a big believer of charity and has donated huge sums of money to the poor and the underprivileged on various occasions. Apart from that he also was the brand ambassador for Canada tourism until 2012 and owns a Kabbadi team in the Kabbadi League.
At the World Kabbadi League in support of his team
He also owns a production company by the name of Hari Om Productions that is run by him and his better half, Twinkle Khanna. The production house was founded in 2008 and since then has co-produced films like Singh is King, Patiala House, and Oh My God among many other.
Hailing from such a modest background and making it so big in the film industry without any support, or contact whatsoever and starring in more than 116 movies is definitely no mean feat.
Akshay proves 'You Are The Choices You Make' adage correct. Here's to Kumar who blew everyone's mind off with his tenure in Bollywood and shall be eternally remembered and celebrated as long as he lives.
Check out the brand new trailer of his next Toilet Ek Prem Katha, right here.
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