Akshay Kumar has come a full circle from his first hit Khiladi to hit TV series Khatron Ke Khiladi. And now the actor is looking forward to his first overseas production Speedy Singhs. Here's the actor's journey so far on his 44th birthday.
Akshay was born in 1967 as Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia in a middle class Punjabi family in Amritsar. From a waiter in Bangkok, to one of the most successful actors in Bollywood, Akshay Kumar has come a long way.
The actor was raised in Delhi's Chandni Chowk before moving to Mumbai. He studied martial arts in Bangkok and worked as a chef. He then came back to Mumbai, where he started teaching martial arts.
How Rajiv Bhatia became Akshay Kumar
One of his students happened to be a photographer and recommended him to do modelling and the anonymous Rajiv Bhatia began his journey as Akshay Kumar who then slowly but surely worked his way up to becoming one of the most talented stars of the industry.
Stunned at the pay package and his success as a model, Akshay took the next obvious step, and entered into films. However unlike most of the other stars in his time, Akshay neither had star parents, nor a godfather to launch him. Although his first few films were unsuccessful at the box office, they helped Akshay get noticed for his dancing abilities and his dare-devilish stunts.
His first true hit film was Khiladi (1992) and although it was a success, the top banners continued to be elusive until Yeh Dillagi (1993), which not only got him recognition but marked his position as a top league actor. Though Jai Kishen and Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1993) were quite successful at the box office, it was Mohra (1993) and Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995) that it catapulted Akshay to fame and established his position as one of the top most heroes of the industry.
Lights, camera, 'action'
With a series of Khiladi movies including the Khiladiyon Ke Khiladi (1996), Akshay became the quintessential "action hero'. But in 1997 with Mr. & Mrs. Khiladi, Dil To Pagal Hai and Aflatoon, he attempted new genres in order to change his stereotypical image, and he was quite successful at it.
Experimenting with roles
Another attempt at a new role with Ajnabee (2001), where he played the villain, was again well portrayed and well received by audiences and critics alike. He even won his first Filmfare Award under the Best Villain category. Dhadkan (2000), where he starred opposite Shilpa Shetty reaffirmed the fact that aside from being an action hero, Akshay Kumar was also the perfect romantic lead. In the same year came another memorable performance with the film Hera Pheri (2000) which brought to the forefront his strength in comedy and superb timing as he held his ground with the seasoned Paresh Rawal and Suniel Shetty.
His comic performances in films such as Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Garam Masala (2005), Phir Hera Pheri (2006) and Jaan-E-Mann (2006) met with critical acclaim. His success further rose in 2007, when he starred in four consecutive commercial hits – Namastey London, Heyy Babyy, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Welcome. He continued his golden touch with Singh Is Kinng.
A string of flops
However in 2009, his Chandni Chowk to China opposite Deepika Padukone and Eight by Ten, both was critical and commercial failures to box office. His bad patch continued with Kambakkht Ishq, Blue, De Dana Dan, Khatta Meetha, Action Replayy, Tees Maar Khan and Patiala House.
In between these, his Housefull last year was a box-office hit. In 2011, he has already delivered a hit in Thank You. During his career, Akshay Kumar was romantically linked with several of his co-star actresses like Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty, Pooja Batra and even Rekha. He finally married actress Twinkle Khanna, the daughter of veteran actors Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia, in 2001 and is today a proud father of a son named Aarav.
Today, Akshay is one of the most sought after actors, who command a strong box-office opening. In 2008, the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Law on him in recognition of his contribution to Indian cinema. In 2009, he was awarded the Padma Shri.
His upcoming films are - Rohit Dhawan's (David Dhawan's son) directorial debut Desi Boyz, Shirish Kunder's 3-D Hindi film Joker, Sajid Khan's Housefull 2, and Rowdy Rathore, a film produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ronnie Screwvala and directed by Prabhu Deva. His latest production project, Speedy Singhs, first Indo-Canadian venture, is also ready for release. Akshay Kumar has also done an item number in this film, which was earlier titled Breakaway.
With inputs from News Tomorrow