Free Press Journal

Akshay Kumar at 50: The undisputed Khiladi of box office


It’s hard to believe that Akshay Kumar is 50 now. With almost three decades of his life dedicated to cinema, this man with the golden touch has created wonders at the ticket counters and silver screens. Shubarna Mukerji Shu revisits his journey

Even as I write this, I remember Akshay Kumar say, “I am blessed not to have any regrets in life, even my bad days or bad movies or bad relationships, I’m still glad I experienced them, I would still have done everything the same way if I had a chance at life again. I know not many people would say that, but I make a huge effort to do things my way so that I’m happy, how could I ever complain…” And his audience loves him for what he does. He may not have many popular awards tucked under his belt but the ones that matter — the National Award and of course, the coveted Padma Shri — he has been receiving in quick successions.

He Khan do it too

It’s hard to imagine in the ’90s – when the trinity of Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman ruled – that someone other than a Khan would come this far, and be this successful. The very many times he has burst onto a stage, or landed on it from a chopper or some other breathtakingly dangerous stunt to win over everyone else in the room made him live up to his title Khiladi but today, in 2017 – nearing three decades of filmmaking later – you cannot stick him to that title.

Today he is one of the most successful actors not just for the remarkable box office records he holds but because he has been one of those who has really adapted himself to the changing times. Courtesy: His shrewd business acumen and his eclectic choice of movies. He shifted gears in his career so effortlessly that before we knew the action hero turned into the comedy king, and our awe turned into peels of laughter. While this laughter is still very much his forte, his game plan changed conscientious and today an Akshay Kumar film is a phenomenon that leaves you entertained and yet, thinking. How does he do that?

“It is very simple, I do not like playing the same guy twice! That is why we have directors! It is their vision. They want me to play a part and I have to adapt myself to make that character such that the audience loves him. At the stage that I am, I don’t necessarily have to make movies because my livelihood depends on it, so I make only those that I feel need to be made and then I go applying myself to becoming those characters. It’s one of the best parts about being an actor, ‘changing yourself’, it’s the only really creative thing about me really! I never think about method acting, or spontaneity over much.

I do push myself because I love giving ‘my all’ on set every day. How I approach the scenes? Well, I always do it how the director wants and then when I know it’s the last take I come up with something different just in case, everybody waits for me to do it, they all stand there thinking ‘What is Akshay going to do now’, I love it, the cast and crew love it, it makes me the actor I am. I don’t secretly want more, guess that’s why I’m already happy!” – despite the honesty with which he speaks, no one knows the secret behind Akshay Kumar’s seemingly effortless stream of success.

The game changer

“Here’s a man who is all heart for his people, his country and of course his movies. He never approaches anything with ‘I know it all attitude’ even though he does know it all. That’s the reason for his success I believe. Having done over 20 films together, I think I am in the position to appreciate and admire his work, his personality and yet, above it all, I admire the person that he is, doesn’t that in itself say enough about my love for him?” says Anupam Kher whose work with Akshay has seen various onscreen relationships but who insists that his favourite remains their off-screen friendship.

“Action was his forte yes, I doubt we will ever find someone so agile and so gifted when it comes to the genre but he is much more. I keep telling him that his Sandy and Sundi act in Housefull was something the franchise should try to develop because it was sheer genius, though that doesn’t reflect upon what I felt about the whole film of course. Yet, this is the same man who has given us films like Airlift where he underplayed the heroism beautifully. He did his part magnificently in Toilet Ek Prem Katha,” states Rajeev Masand, who believes that Akshay is one of the very few mainstream superstars who have actually evolved with time.

Hero with a message

However, Neeraj Pandey who has been often credited for having given a whole new aspect to Akshay’s career insists that here is a man with foresight who didn’t need one particular director or producer to bring him to light, “Akshay Kumar might not have thought he would be an actor. Yet, when I met him he was already a huge star and yet he had a hunger for doing something new… when we approached him with Special 26 it was not something that he was doing those days but he always wants to get associated with something new, that’s his greatest strength.”

Distributor Akshaye Rathi, affirms it saying, “For someone of Akshay Kumar’s caliber to be going down South to play a negative character, itself tells you that there is nothing he won’t do when it comes to a good idea. When 2.0 releases, it will be something the nation will talk about because of the magnitude to seeing Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar together. It will be a good day at the box office.”

Yes, he is the undisputed king of the box office. And though money matter, there’s always a human side to every story. “I don’t like to express my emotions really, opinions yes, but not my emotions. I hate confrontation and I don’t generally like to talk about my feelings much. If I want to express myself to my loved ones I show it, I don’t talk about it I prove it, zameen aasmaan ek kar deta hoon. I believe that’s a far more honest approach than just saying ‘yeah I love you’. I think I do the same with my work and that’s why it works for me!” he says with his charming smile and a twinkle in the eye that defies his 50 years.