Tag Archives: akshay

Kumaraissance: Tracing Akshay Kumar’s reinvention from ‘Khiladi’ to India’s most bankable star

Just this year, Akshay Kumar has delivered two crackling performances in two very different films and won the National Award for his work in 2016’s Rustom.

He also launched Bharat Ke Veer, a website and app that enables donations to families of army personnel.

His social media feeds are peppered with videos that address social issues. Akshay’s public image is currently undergoing a multi-media reinvention.

And, then there were buzz-worthy moments when he sang Frank Sinatra’s ‘Strangers in the Night’ to his wife Twinkle Khanna on Koffee With Karan or when he thanked his ‘overpaid trainer and underpaid cook’ while accepting the award for ‘Most Beautiful Man of the Decade’ at the recent Vogue Beauty Awards 2017.

We’re in the throes of a full-blown Kumaraissance, and it’s been long overdue.

For about three decades, Akshay has been a Bollywood A-lister, which in itself is a genuine accomplishment. But his career spanning 124 movies has mostly banked more on ‘Akshay the Star’ rather than showcase his talents as an actor. His filmography has the odd Sangharsh or Dhadkan but action and comedy has always been his forte.

From being stuck in the doldrums of mindless films like Rowdy Rathore and the Housefull franchise, Akshay seems to have re-invented himself as an actor who is not just pushing boundaries but also consistently delivering hits.

In the last two years, he has picked films unlike anything he’s done before. Rustom was based on the Nanavati murder trial of 1959 that transformed the judicial process in India. His portrayal of Naval officer KM Nanavati earned him the National Award.

He essayed another real-life character in the hugely appreciated Airlift. Akshay delivered his first blockbuster of 2017 as the Lucknow-bred underdog lawyer Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly in Subhash Kapoor’s Jolly LLB 2. In Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which released on the Independence Day weekend,

Continuing the trend, Akshay’s next release Padman will attempt to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene. Directed by R Balki, the film is based on the life and work of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur who invented a low-cost sanitary pad making machine.

The actor is also filming director Reema Kagti’s Gold, a sports drama on the hockey team that won the first Olympic medal for India as a free nation in 1948.

What is common to Akshay’s recent films has been the focus on meaningful stories. He’s moved beyond generic masala crowd-pleasers to films that do more than just entertain.

Many credit Akshay’s association with filmmaker Neeraj Pandey for triggering the Kumaraissance. The duo first collaborated in the 2013 heist thriller Special 26 and, since then, Neeraj has directed Akshay in the spy film Baby and co-produced Rustom, Naam Shabana and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.

After decades of being Khiladi Kumar, Akshay is going towards not having an image. While his contemporaries like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan are struggling to reinvent themselves, Akshay has laid claim to being the ‘superstar everyman’.

(Clockwise from top left) Stills from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Padman, Jolly LLB 2

Whether he is Kuwait-based Indian businessman Ranjit Katyal spearheading the largest civilian evacuation in history or cycle store owner Keshav who would do anything to build a toilet for his wife, Akshay never stops being a Bollywood hero. There is also enough swagger, high-decibel dialoguebaazi and humour to keep the single-screen viewers happy. His directors seem to have found that elusive balance between realistic and revved up.

If we measure this shift in Akshay’s career in terms of financial success, it’s obvious that the audience loves it.

Raking in Rs 126.94 crores at the box-office, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is this year’s highest grossing Hindi film as yet. Also in the 100-crore club are Jolly LLB 2 (Rs 117 cr), Rustom (Rs 124 cr) and Airlift (Rs 123 cr).

Akshay has been one of Bollywood’s most bankable actors but at a time when the industry is going through a slump, he is undoubtedly Bollywood’s biggest money-spinner right now.

In the past, Akshay has always managed to stand up to the draw of the Khans but this reinvention has given him a substantial edge over his contemporaries. It’s their move now.

Akshay Kumar – ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is a romantic comedy, not a documentary’

Akshay Kumar, is, by far the fittest man in Bollywood, and leads an extremely disciplined life by waking up at the crack of dawn and winding up his day by 6 pm. In fact, it has been a standing joke in the industry that when Akshay wraps up his work on the sets and gets ready to leave for home, certain actors turn up on the sets!

When we asked him how he has only two or three releases this year as opposed to his usual record of five to six films, he first corrects us by saying, “Two-and-a-half”,  referring to Baby‘s spin-off Naam Shabana, in which he had an extended cameo, and he further asks, “Are you trying to say that I am slowing down? Or are you trying to say that I’m lazy?” He explains, “I have completed Padman, 2.0 (the sequel to 2010 blockbuster Robot, with Rajinikanth), and half of Gold is completed. We have not been able to announce a release date for Padman yet. There is no date available, because we have so many releases,” says Akshay.

Akshay Kumar. Image from Facebook

However, the actor is happy about the fact that the clash between his upcoming film Toilet Ek Prem Katha and Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Harry Met Sejal was averted, when the latter’s release was changed to one week before the previously chosen date. “Everybody is happy when films don’t clash, but unfortunately there are only 52 weeks and  180 releases, so some clashes are bound to happen. And then, we also have films from Hollywood and the South,” he says. This brings us to the humongous success of Baahubali 2: The Conclusionand the disappointing year that has been for Bollywood with just couple of super hit films like Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Hindi Medium so far. Akshay’s immediate query is, “How much was spent on Baahubali 2’s making? Over 400 crore? Toilet Ek Prem Katha has been made in Rs 18 crore. Obviously, the returns will be different.”

Referring to the poor rate of success of Bollywood movies, he further says, “Maybe it has got to do with our content which is not right. Also, they are very systematic in the South. They don’t spend more than Rs 2 crore on publicity. They don’t do reality shows or too many press meets. But like us, they too release big films during Diwali and Pongal. They do reserve those dates. It is not threatening for us, but we can see some new things in cinema. Even our films release in the South, and they have never said that it is a threat. It is just that good films work.”  So have the expectations from Shankar’s sci-fi action drama 2.0, in which Akshay plays an antagonist, gone up?  “Are you stating that I have started taking stress? Well, I can’t say anything more about the film, because I’m bound by my contract,” he says.

Akshay Kumar in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Image from Facebook

Akshay recently revealed that the script of Toilet Ek Prem Katha was doing the rounds for four years and was offered to several stars who rejected it before it landed on his plate. “I found it very intriguing. I liked the fact that it was a real story. I wondered how these women actually told their spouses that they wanted a divorce because there’s no toilet at home. It was a big step for these women from villages; even women from the city wouldn’t take this extreme step,” says the actor, adding, “I don’t know how many people will watch the film, but even if five per cent out of the 54 per cent [who don’t have toilets in their homes] are able to install toilets, I will feel my movie is successful. I am not bothered about the box office collections, I am more concerned about the eye-balls it will get. If my producer-distributor can reduce the ticket price, I will be very happy.”

The National Award-winning actor, popularly known as Bollywood’s khiladi, was the go-to actor for action films in the initial years of his career. Later, he was also applauded for his comedies, and off-late, he is being touted as the flag-bearer of patriotism and supporter of diverse social causes, through his movies and otherwise. In fact, he continues to take maximum risks when it comes to playing across genres. If with Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which will be released on the Independence Day weekend, he takes on the sanitation crisis in India and the need for toilets within homes for women, director R Balki’s Padman is an attempt to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene in rural India. Up next is Gold, a sports drama on the historic first Olympic medal that India won as a free nation. In the last two years, Akshay has acted in Neeraj Pandey’s spy thriller Baby, vigilante action movie Gabbar Is Back, historical drama Airlift and crime thriller Rustom, the last of which won him the National Award for best actor for 2016.

Akshay Kumar in Rustom. image from Twitter

“I want to help people with the help of media and government. Even if you don’t want to write about the film, it is fine, but certainly write about the issue and what women have to go through. They have to walk three kilometres to relieve themselves. They wait for sunset and leave in a group, with the fear of rape. It is a huge issue and I am doing my bit with this film,” says Akshay.  However, the actor clarifies that Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is a romantic comedy and not a documentary. “I am not giving any message, it is only towards the end that it gets a bit serious. It has got loads of masala and action besides four to five songs. Toilet humour is also shown in a different way and along with that there is a true story,” he says.

However, Akshay is clear that he doesn’t want to be typecast again. “I would love to do a khiladi. Just last year I did a complete MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) film, Brothers, then I did Housefull 3 as well. It’s not that I don’t want to do other films besides the realistic ones,” he says.

And one can’t help but ask him about the fate of the his Battle of Saragarhi which was announced with much fanfare; he plays the lead in this film.  There have been speculations that Salman Khan, who is supposed to be co-producing the film with Karan Johar, has opted out and that the film has been shelved.  Says Akshay, “The film is still happening; it is not shelved, but whether Salman is still producing it or not, we will know with time. Talks are on. It’s not yet decided.

Akshay Kumar’s Republic Day idea: An app to help families of martyred soldiers

It was in October 2016 that Akshay Kumar had  posted a message in support of jawans an their families, post-Uri attack. While public discourse had been taken over by the issue of whether or not cultural relations with Pakistan should be boycotted (most stridently, in the demand for the ouster of Pakistani artistes from the country), Akshay posted a video on social media that asked people to focus on the real issue: providing succour to the families of those soldiers whose lives had been lost in the terror strike at Uri.

Akshay Kumar News18 380

Now, in the run-up to Republic Day 2017, Akshay has put out another video that indicates he wishes to walk the talk. The Rustom actor has proposed the creation of a mobile app and website that can help in delivering much-needed financial aid to the families of martyred Indian soldiers. The app will allow donors to directly pay an amount of their choice into the verified bank account of the departed soldier’s next of kin.

Akshay began his video message with a disclaimer: “This idea is directly from my heart. May be it is useless or can be a big hit.”

He then explained his concept:

“I think that our country should have a website or a mobile app which directly connects the kin of martyred soldiers and the people who want to extend help to them. This website will host a list of the names of the martyrs, along with the bank account numbers of their close ones — mother, father or wife. And if someone wants to help that jawan’s family financially, they can directly make a contribution into their accounts. That account number will be deleted once the total deposited money accounts to Rs 15 lakh. By this, family members of the martyred soldiers can directly use that money.”

Jolly LLB 2, Toilet, 2.0 and Pad Man: What Akshay Kumar’s slate of films looks like in 2017

Mumbai: On New Year’s Day on Sunday, Bollywood star Akshay Kumar shared with his fans his line-up of films for the calendar year, asking them for love and luck.

Akshay Kumar. File photo

He tweeted: “Busy summing up the year gone by? It’s time to not look back, but look ahead. Here’s what my 2017 looks like. Your thoughts, love and luck needed.”

The actor then went on to share the names of the films along with their photographs.

The first one is his upcoming courtroom comedy drama film Jolly LLB 2. Directed by Subhash Kapoor, the film also features Huma Qureshi and Annu Kapoor.

In the trailer, Akshay looks promising as a lawyer while he tackles the corrupt with some comical elements.

Toilet — Ek Prem Katha is the second. Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, it also stars Bhumi Pednekar and Anupam Kher, and is slated to release on June 2.

Then Akshay will be seen in Tamil science-fiction action thriller 2.o along with superstar Rajinikanth.

In the film, which is being directed by Shankar, Rajinikanth plays a scientist, and he will also be seen as Chitti robot. Akshay plays the prime antagonist in the film, which will hit the screens worldwide during Diwali 2017.

The fourth project that Akshay has in his kitty for 2017 is Pad Man. It is said to be a biopic on Arunachalam Muruganantham, and will chronicle his journey of finding a way to make cheap, affordable sanitary napkins for women in his village.

Jolly LLB 2 trailer: Akshay Kumar plays a bumbling lawyer-turned-hero in Subhash Kapoor’s film

The Jolly LLB 2 trailer is out. And from what it offers for our consumption, it seems to have capitalised on all of its leading man Akshay Kumar’s strengths.

Akshay Kumar in Jolly LLB 2

Jolly LLB 2, the trailer, starts off as a comic caper. We see Akshay’s character, a lawyer named Jolly, on a losing streak in court. He is prone to asking his witnesses filmi questions, like when Salman Khan is likely to get married; cry like (in the words of Saurabh Shukla, who plays the judge) Nirupa Roy, and generally engage in a whole lot of theatrics that have little or no intended effect.

He also has the gift of spinning grand, catchy lines — although his bombast finds barely any appreciation in the courtroom, or at home, with his long-suffering wife Pushpa (Huma Qureshi).

Things — and the tone of the film — change suddenly when a man is killed, and his wife approaches Jolly for help seeking justice.

Jolly quickly realises that this is not just about one man’s life being brutally cut short, the victim was but one pawn in a larger nexus that involves several powerful people. When Jolly fights against them, he realises that he has the fight of his life ahead. His adversary in court is the evil advocate Annu Kapoor.

There is one dialogue that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser: Jolly says in court that whoever said ‘everything is fair in love and war’ was the biggest fool — because then it would mean that those who decapitate soldiers at the border in the name of war, or those who fling acid at women in the name of love, are justified in carrying out their heinous acts.

The Jolly LLB 2 trailer packages everything that the ‘Akshay Kumar brand’ is known for — comic timing, action, dialogue delivery, romance and pop patriotism — in its two-and-a-half minutes of run-time.

Akshay Kumar, Neeraj Pandey to work together again for ‘Rustom’

Mumbai: Superstar Akshay Kumar and filmmaker Neeraj Pandey, who have worked together in Special 26 and Baby, are coming together again for an upcoming movie Rustom.

While their last two outings had Pandey both as a producer and on the director’s chair, Rustom will have Pandey only producing it under his and Shital Bhatia’s banner Friday Filmworks.

File photo of Akshay Kumar. Reuters

Rustom will mark the directorial debut of Tinu Suresh Desai and will release on 12 August 2016.

Akshay, who turns 48 on Wednesday, said he was thrilled to star in the film.

“Having worked with Neeraj on two fabulous projects, I am excited to start work on our new film. I am happy that Zee’s Studios is putting its might behind this film along with KriArj Entertainment and Friday Filmworks.

“It gives me and the entire team confidence of this launched worldwide using the global might of Zee,” the actor said in a statement.

Written by Vipul Rawal, the film is inspired by real life incidents and is being co-produced by Zee Studios and Arjun N Kapoor’s KriArj Entertainment.

Pandey said Akshay was the perfect choice for the romantic-thriller.

“When Tinu narrated Rustom to us we immediately got hooked to the quality of the narrative and its potential and instantly decided that it was something that we would like to produce.

“We also really felt that given the nature of the story, Akshay would be the perfect fit and him agreeing to come on board will definitely give it the canvas it requires,” he said.

Pandey will be pen the dialogues of the film and also co-write the screenplay with Vipul Rawal.

Nittin Keni, CEO, Zee Studios said, “We are delighted to partner with Akshay Kumar, country’s leading icon, Neeraj Pandey and KriArj Entertainment on ‘Rustom’… With this film which will release on 12 August 2016 all over, we want to entertain our audiences.”

First schedule of Rustom will commence by mid-December this year. The film will also feature two actresses. Zee Music has bagged the music rights for the film.

Khiladi on fire: Watch Akshay Kumar nearly escape an accident on the sets of ‘Singh is Bling’

Akshay Kumar is known to pull off his own action stunts in films, no matter how dangerous they may be. On the sets of Singh is Bling recently, Kumar survived a fire accident just in time.

akshay

While shooting for the song ‘Tung Tung Baaje‘ from the film, Kumar had to jump through a ring of fire. In the film, he plays a Sardar who prides himself on being a daredevil.

In a video released by the film’s production house Grazing Goat films, Kumar is seen rehearsing with his stuntmen many times before jumping through the circle fire. In one such jump, he misses the mark and the flaming circle falls onto him.

Fortunately, with help on time, Kumar survived the accident unharmed.

He tweeted about the accident on Tuesday evening: