Education was never a priority for me: Akshay Kumar

Updated on Jan 17, 2016 06:38 PM IST

Akshay Kumar tells us more about his journey so far in 25 questions.

It’s been 25 years for Akshay Kumar in Bollywood. (PTI)
It’s been 25 years for Akshay Kumar in Bollywood. (PTI)
Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai

In January 1991, a young martial arts instructor made his acting debut with Saugandh, and made people sit up and take notice. Soon enough, Akshay Kumar climbed the popularity charts and went on to become one of the most popular stars of the ’90s. He continues to rule the roost in Bollywood even now, 25 years later. Here, the actor tells us more about his journey so far in 25 questions.

1. On wanting to join the Indian Army…
Besides teaching martial arts, my desire was to join the Indian Army. That was the future I saw for myself. Becoming an actor was not on the cards. I didn’t think about it even in my wildest dreams. But sometimes, you have to let life lead the way. You can’t always expect God to give you what you want. At times, God has his own plans.

2. On being brought up in Chandni Chowk, Delhi…
Chandni Chowk is home for me; it stands for my youth. That is where I felt free when I was young. That was the place where I could walk with my grandmother, play cricket with my dad at the Red Fort, and stuff myself with my favourite delicacies. That was where I started dreaming.

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3. On dropping out of Mumbai’s Khalsa College…
I don’t regret how far I went with my education. My dad and I always knew that I would survive because of my discipline and my drive. I wasn’t going to succeed because I buried my head in books. So, I was allowed to drop out, as long as I worked hard for whatever I was passionate about. Hence, I became a martial arts teacher. I didn’t need a book for that; I needed discipline, passion, talent, and all these things were given to me at birth. So, education was never a priority for me, much to my mother’s dismay (smiles).

4. On training in martial arts…
Martial arts is a way of life for me. It has changed everything for me. It has given me more than anything else has. This is why I try to spread awareness about it. Martial arts isn’t just a sport, it’s something that can inculcate so many life-changing qualities in you. I want every child in India to experience it.

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5. On being a chef…
I can cook, but I don’t consider myself a chef. I cook for my family and that’s about it. My days of working at a Thai/Indian food takeaway joint are over, but I’ll always thank Bangkok (Thailand) for teaching me the recipe of my favourite dish, Thai Green Chicken Curry. It wins over my wife’s heart every time (laughs).

6. On being a background dancer in B-Town…
I’m like the Bollywood version of Channing Tatum, a background dancer-turned-front line performer. Who would have imagined that?

7. On missing the flight for his first ad shoot…
I would be insane to not thank my stars for missing that flight to Bengaluru (the same day he was signed for the lead role in Deedar; 1992). Though at that time, I was very angry at myself for being late; that day, I vowed to be on time everywhere after that. That was the first and the last time I ever got late for anything.

8. On becoming Bollywood’s Khiladi Kumar
I have been many things in my life, but Khiladi Kumar is a title that got stuck with me. To be honest, I can’t complain. It is a tag I was proud of — at least once upon a time (smiles).

Read: I am very proud to be an Indian, says Akshay Kumar

Read: I have a healthy jealousy for the Khans, says Akshay Kumar

9. On his action hero image…
I couldn’t have wished for a more memorable entry [into Bollywood], as I didn’t want to enter as only an actor. Bollywood had many great actors, they didn’t need another one. What they needed was a man who could change the face of action in films, and I have spent the last 25 years trying to make that happen.

10. On the high point in his career in the ’90s…
My Khiladi franchise is what I will always be remembered for. That is something I will always cherish. The ’90s saw some of the best years of my life. In that special decade, I also met my wife (Twinkle Khanna) (smiles).

11. On his Casanova image…

As a young, unmarried actor, I think it was probably the coolest image to have. I didn’t like to drink, smoke or party… I liked women and I liked being a good man to all the women in my life at that time. But I knew what I was actually looking for, and when Twinkle came along, I dropped that image quickly. I knew I wanted to be a husband and a father, and I was just waiting for Twinkle to strip me of my school-boy image and turn me into a man (laughs).

12. On turning to comedy in 2000…
I’m most comfortable with comedy. I would work on a Priyadarshan (director) movie every month of the year, if I could. It’s the most difficult genre.

Akshay Kumar wants comedians to get their due respect. (Getty Images)
Akshay Kumar wants comedians to get their due respect. (Getty Images)

13. On his wife…
Martial arts made me the man I wanted to become, and Twinkle made me the man I want to be for the rest of my life. She isn’t just my wife, she is also my partner for life and my friend. She is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. We are inseparable.

14. On his equation with the Khans…
My equation with all the Khans has always been professional, caring and respectful. I have nothing but respect for them. I’ve had a lot of fun on the sets with Salman (Khan). I’ve worked with him and with Saif (Ali Khan) the most. Since Aamir (Khan) is Twinkle’s close friend, we have a lot of play dates together (smiles). Though SRK and I rarely see each other, we only wish the best for each other.

15. On valuing his fans…
More than anything, one needs to analyse the audience, because films only work depending on the mood of the people.

Actor Akshay Kumar shows his patriotic colours as he poses for a profile shoot. (HT)
Actor Akshay Kumar shows his patriotic colours as he poses for a profile shoot. (HT)

16. On staying fit…
Staying fit is harder than getting fit. You have to be driven to accomplish fitness, but you need discipline to maintain it.

17. On loving sports...
I need to watch and play sports in order to survive. Life without sports is like Ronaldo (Cristiano Ronaldo; footballer) trying to score a goal without a football (smiles). My aim is to help make India a sports-orientated nation, not just a highly educated one.

18. On doing charity…
I hand over money directly to the source. I don’t do charity to benefit my image, but to help the needy.

19. On not having a godfather…

If you want to get somewhere in life, then do something about it. Don’t wait for someone to hold your hand and do it for you. The same will apply to whatever my son (Aarav Bhatia) decides to do. I’ll guide and teach him, but he has to create his own path.

Akshay will soon be seen in Airlift. (Dabboo Ratnani)
Akshay will soon be seen in Airlift. (Dabboo Ratnani)

20. On box-office success…
When I was trying to make a name for myself, box-office success was more important. But now, I have enough hits to my credit.

21. On being a father…
There’s never enough any father can do for his kids. My kids know I move mountains to be with them and work endlessly to provide them with a good lifestyle.

22. On not having any regrets…
Having regrets is a waste of energy. It’s the things you haven’t done that weigh you down.

23. On his highs and lows…
My highs have been creating a happy family and watching them enjoy my work. My lows were missing them along the way, especially my father.

Watch: Akshay, Nimrat in Airlift trailer

24. On doing films on real subjects…
I wanted to make serious cinema and suddenly some expertly written scripts started coming my way. Those films have a special place in my heart, as they are real and raw.

25. On looking back at the last 25 years…

I look at these years with nothing but amazement. From what I’ve learnt and where I am, I couldn’t have been more grateful. I’ve had a good run. If I die tomorrow, I’d be gutted, because I’d miss everything about my life. I’ve got much more to offer (smiles).

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    Prashant Singh is an Assistant Editor with HT Cafe. Besides bringing out the edition on a daily basis, he also extensively writes on Bollywood.

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