Deconstructing Akshay Kumar: How the Khiladi won over Bollywood

  • Jyoti Sharma Bawa, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2014 13:29 IST

In a recent interview, mom-in-law Dimple Kapadia had an interesting insight to share about Akshay Kumar. She said she routinely had him screaming at her because she won't go to gym. "While he is super disciplined, I am very lazy," she said.

And therein lies the crux. Probably one of the fittest actors in Bollywood today, the actor has earned his reputation as a fitness freak and one of the most bankable actors. But mostly as a strict disciplinarian who takes what he does very seriously.

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This boy from Delhi's old Delhi started his innings in an itsy-bitsy role in a film called Aaj. That was after spending time in Bangkok learning martial arts and earning his living selling fast food.

Fame came with the lucky tag of Khiladi. The first film by that name was a thriller but did showcase Kumar's chiselled looks and martial arts chops. One thing led to another and he went on to do a total of eight films with Khiladi in their titles -- Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Sabse Bada Khiladi, Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, International Khiladi and Khiladi 420 and Khiladi 786. Hits most of them, these films cemented his place in the industry.

The recognition of his acting acumen came with comedy Hera Pheri, which came out in 2000. The actor who was either doing action -- his forte -- or romance, suddenly discovered he had a funny bone too.

A long association with Priyadarshan resulted in laugh-a-minute comedies (including Garam Masala, Khatta Meetha, Bhool Bhulaiya et al) which all worked on the BO. When he was not doing slapstick, he was doing films like critically acclaimed Khakee where he plays a dishonest police officer who realises too late that he has been played by a master criminal, a married man who says no to his female boss' advances in Aitraaz or a blind man who realises he has been hired for a heist in Aankhen. He also romanced heroines in films like Namaste London and Dhadkan.

Oh, and not to forget the slapstick Singh is King, which proved when it comes to telling a joke, few could do it like Akshay.

He returned to action genre with Rowdy Rathore, a Southern remake, which set the BO ringing.

And then, he surprised all with his con drama, Special 26. This smartly scripted film let us look at Akshay minus the slapstick gags or gravity-defying action stunts. He followed it up with Holiday: A Soldier is Never Off Duty, a trademark Akshay film which was yet another entrant to the Rs 100-crore club.

The actor has tried almost all genres while staying in his comfort zone of masala movies -- hardcore action, 'lol' comedy, romance, family dramas, sports movies, con films and what you have. A rather prominent member of the Rs 100-crore club, he has three films in there -- Housefull 2, Rowdy Rathore and Holiday: A Soldier is Never Off Duty.

As he turns 46, we hope to see him kick some more butt onscreen. And then surprise us with a gem like Hera Pheri.

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