Gabbar Is Back: Is Akshay Kumar the new-age Bharat Kumar? | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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Gabbar Is Back: Is Akshay Kumar the new-age Bharat Kumar?

bollywood Updated: Apr 30, 2015 21:26 IST
Sweta Kaushal
Sweta Kaushal
Hindustan Times
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Akshay Kumar is all set to take on the corruption in the Indian society with his next Gabbar Is Back on May 1. Directed by Krish, the movie features Akshay Kumar, Shruti Haasan, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Chitrangada Singh in pivotal roles.

A close look at Akshay Kumar's character in Gabbar and his recent films reveal how the Khiladi Kumar has become the face of patriotic Indian on silver screen of late. Be it Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty or Baby or Gabbar Is Back, all of them weave in new-age patriotism, sans the jingoism common in Hindi cinema.

A still from Gabbar is Back.

Bollywood last saw a series of patriotic films when Manoj Kumar earned his nickname Bharat Kumar for starring in films that glorified the Indian culture and its values as opposed to the West. Akshay is clearly cast in a different avatar but the pro-India ethos are definitely there. His characters do not wage war against enemies from outside, instead they cleanse our system of malpractices. New-age patriotism is more about rectifying what is wrong within our society and being at peace with our identity rather than glorifying 'Indianness'.

Akshay played a soldier who takes it upon himself to destry a terror network in Holiday.

Film scholar and author of the book The Making of Don, Krishna Gopalan says, "If Manoj Kumar is Bharat Kumar, Akshay Kumar would be Mr Hindustan. The two actors are part of different eras. The India of Manoj Kumar was not as confident while the India of Akshay Kumar does not deal with any inferiority complex. Akshay has established with his films that it is cool to be an Indian."

Unlike a Manoj Kumar, who had to explain his behavior and attire at each step in Britain (Purab Aur Pashchim), when Akshay strolled through the lanes of London (Namastey London and Patiala House), he did so unapologetically. Today's youth is very much in sync with the changing world and its language. At the same time, it wants to stay connected to the roots.

Akshay Kumar played a proud desi in Namastey London who holds his own in Britain.

Much like Bharat of the 60s and 70s, Akshay Kumar's characters are grounded people who display the sensitivity of the common Indian man of today. Scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni, who has worked with Akshay in Neeraj Pandey's Special 26, says, "I believe Akshay has certain awareness and there is a social responsibility that he carries with his persona; he has even taken initiatives like promoting self-defence for women and saving the girl child."

"I would be hard-pressed if I say his films are patriotic. Akshay Kumar chooses films that cater to his fan base, which mainly seeks entertainment. However, I think he has been consciously picking scripts where good social messages are packaged along with light-hearted entertainment. If we can consider that as new-age patriotism, then he certainly is the face of that kind of cinema. Our society right now requires a lot and if an added colour or masala gets a social message to larger masses, I think it is for good." adds the Chak De writer.

Akshay was a special agent in Baby who arrested India's most wanted terror suspect.

Film critic Mayank Shekhar, however does not agree. He says that we are reading too much into Akshay's works. "I don't think we should call him Bharat Kumar, he's more of Rajendra Kumar. You know, Jubilee Kumar. We don't remember too many works of Rajendra Kumar but he has done a number of films that had jubilee run at theatres. I don't think Akshay gives much importance to the script, his focus is more on churning out those Rs 100-crore films. Probably because his fan base doesn't expect more from him. But I don't believe he has any sort of agenda or a social message in his films," he says.

A still from Rowdy Rathore.

In an earlier interview to HT,


has said that his dad (Hari Om Bhatia) was an army officer and that's why love for the country and patriotism runs in his blood.

Written by AR Murugadoss and Shiraz Ahmed, Gabbar Is Back is a remake of Murugadoss's Tamil film Ramanaa. The film was remade in Telugu as Tagore with Chiranjeevi in the lead, and then in Kannada as Vishnu Sena with Vishnuvardhan playing the protagonist. Gabbar Is Back hits theatres on May 1. And on Friday, the audience will decide if they love this new-patriotism where the hero plays a social vigilante.

Watch: Gabbar is Back stars Akshay Kumar and Shruti Haasan showcase their singing talents

Do you agree that Akshay has become patriotic onscreen? Share your thoughts below.