His journey has been a long and arduous one. He studied martial arts in Bangkok and worked as a chef. He then came back to Mumbai, where he started teaching martial arts. One of his students happened to be a photographer and recommended him to pursue modelling.
The anonymous Rajiv Bhatia began his journey as Akshay Kumar who then slowly began to work his way up to evolve into one of the most talented stars in the industry. Unlike most of his peers Akshay didn't have any godfather to launch him.
First few of his films were box office debacles. Akshay anyway got noticed for dancing skills and his daredevil 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 also 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 catapulted Akshay to fame and established his position as one of the top most actors. With a series of Khiladi movies including the Khiladiyon Ke Khiladi (1996), Akshay became the quintessential 'action hero'. He had carved a niche for himself.
Comic and tragic caper
He was now ready to break that mould. In 1997 with Mr. & Mrs. Khiladi, Dil To Pagal Hai and Aflatoon, he attempted new genres. Another attempt at a distinct role was with Ajnabee (2001), in which he played the villain. He was appreciated 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 hero.
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.
In 2009, his Chandni Chowk to China opposite Deepika Padukone and Eight by Ten, both were critical and commercial failures to box office. His latest Kambakkht Ishq has done well despite severe criticism.
His forthcoming films include Anthony D'Souza's Blue, Priyadarshan's De Dana Dan, Vipul Shah's Action Replay, Deepa Mehta's Komagata Maru and Nikhil Advani's Patiala House.
During his career, Akshay Kumar was romantically linked with several of his co-stars, namely Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty, Pooja Batra and even Rekha. He finally married 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. He is seven years old.
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.