Akshay Kumar has changed himself constantly by taking up films of different genres in his career.
Akshay Kumar has changed himself constantly by taking up films of different genres in his career.

30 years of Akshay Kumar: What makes him tick in every genre, here’s what makers say

As Akshay Kumar completes 30 years of a glorious career in Bollywood on January 25, we talk to some filmmakers who have worked with him so far about why he manages to impress in every kind of film.
By Juhi Chakraborty and Rishabh Suri
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 02:06 PM IST

Action, comedy, romance, biopic... you name it, and Akshay Kumar has not just done it in his film career, but broken a lot of box office records along the way too! Sustaining one self in a tough field like Bollywood for 30 years, and managing to make a mark in every genre is what this 53-year-old has been able to pull off. Saugandh (1991) was his big screen debut, and ever since, he’s managed to surprise everyone, be it by doing action in the Khiladi franchise, comedy in a film such as Hera Pheri, raising important issues in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, and the list goes on.

We talk to some of the directors Kumar has collaborated with so far, and here’s what they have to say:

‘Dream to direct him in action films’

A still from Khiladi
A still from Khiladi

{The Khiladi franchise, Mohra, Sapoot (both 1994), Sapoot (1996), Holiday (2013), upcoming Sooryavanshi}

“It was a wonderful experience to work with him in Chandni Chowk to China (2009). He is one of the fittest actors that we have around and he has the perfect energy to be termed an action star. Back in the ‘90s when he had come, no one in Bollywood looked like he did, and that space of an action star was vacant and which he totally owned it with his skills and performances. Even today, I think he remains one of the top draw when it comes to action,” says filmmaker Nikhil Advani, who has also produced films such as Airlift (2016) and the upcoming, Bell Bottom.

‘Knew he would do a great job as romantic hero’

A still from Namastey London
A still from Namastey London

{Dhadkan (2000), Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya (2002), Bewafaa (2005), Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, Mere Jeevan Saathi (both 2006)}

Filmmaker Vipul Shah, who has directed films such as Waqt: The Race Against Time and Namastey London (2007), says, “When I cast Akshay for Namastey… people called me and said, ‘he has never done a successful huge hit love story and why would you do this with him?’ I just had the faith in him. I went with my gut feeling, which was that here is an actor who is completely honest about his work, and whatever people talk about image and all, that is incorrect. I believed that Akshay was the best choice for the film and that worked. He delivered.”

‘I cast him for Sangharsh, much to the surprise of people’

A still from Sangharsh
A still from Sangharsh

{Sangharsh (1999), Joker (2012), 2.0 (2018)}

Director Tanuja Chandra says, “Akshay was considered an action star when I cast him for Sangharsh, much to the surprise of people because it was a solid performance oriented role of an intense character. I had an instinctive feeling about him which fortunately turned out to be accurate - he surprised people by his felt and evocative performance in my film. He worked very hard, with great sincerity and ambition. He was a very keen listener and rehearsed tirelessly. It was personally fulfilling for me to watch him evolve through the making of Sangharsh and deliver a touching performance.”

‘Only actor open to bringing up social issues’

A still from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha
A still from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha

{OMG! Oh My God (2012), Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017)}

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha director Shree Narayan Singh says, “Everyone talks of Akshay sir’s professionalism, punctuality etc, but the thing that moved me the most, was his absolute humility in submitting to the role. He is the only actor in Bollywood who I felt was open to take up the job of bringing social issues to the forefront but in an entertaining way. I don’t think many actors would even agree to do such roles, but he is different. His fantastic temperament makes the set a very happy place and that I think shows in the film.”

‘I cast Akshay the action hero in a comedy’

A still from Hera Pheri
A still from Hera Pheri

{Hera Pheri (2000), Phir Hera Pheri (2006), Heyy Baby (2007), Housefull franchise, Singh is Kinng (2008)}

Priyadarshan, with whom Akshay has had an impeccable track record so far, says, “When I was casting Akshay, Suniel and Paresh Rawal in Hera Pheri, two were action heroes and one a villain. I believed in my script. I give full credit to Akshay for his success today. In the South, it’s Mohanlal and in North, it’s Akshay- these are the two people I have not made any flops with. Maybe it’s destiny. The best part of both actors is they have never ask me what’s the story of the film. I made Akshay lose his muscles for Hera Pheri. Whatever he is today is because of his hard work and timing. Also, on the sets, he would come before the crew, like Mr Amitabh Bachchan. He’s available for anything whenever you call him. He is always willing to learn.”

‘I couldn’t see anyone else as social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham’

A still from Pad Man
A still from Pad Man

{Pad Man (2018), Airlift (2016)}

R Balki, who directed Pad Man, says, “Of course Akshay is a big star, subjects like menstrual hygiene need to be seen by those who don’t know a lot about it. We have to make it reach many people. More importantly, than being a big star, I can’t see anyone else playing the role of Muruganantham. He was absolutely on for the role from day one, but the thing was I looked at him, and said nobody else can play it. He is so simple, solves all problems very simply, has solutions to everything, and doesn’t think of problems. He ahs a personality very much like Muruganantham. It was an absolute dream working with Akshay. It’s a pleasure, I can’t see anyone else doing a 13-page dialogue in one take, it was mind blowing.”

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