Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia (born 9 September 1967), known professionally as Akshay Kumar, is an Indian-born Canadian actor, producer and television personality who works in Bollywood films. In a career spanning over 29 years, Kumar has appeared in over 100 films and has won several awards, including the National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in Rustom (2016), and two Filmfare Awards for Ajnabee (2001) and Garam Masala (2005).
Kumar was born in Amritsar, Punjab, India,to Hari Om Bhatia and Aruna Bhatia in a Punjabi family.His father was an army officer. From a young age, Kumar was very interested in sports. His father too enjoyed wrestling. He lived and grew up in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk and later he moved to Mumbai when his father left Army to become an accountant with UNICEF.
Soon, his sister was born and the family lived in Koliwada, a Punjabi dominated area of Central Mumbai.He received his school education from Don Bosco School, simultaneously learning Karate. He enrolled in Mumbai’s Guru Nanak Khalsa College for higher education, but dropped out as he was not much interested in studies.
He requested his father that he wanted to learn martial arts further, and his father somehow saved money to send him to Thailand. Kumar went to Bangkok to learn martial arts and lived in Thailand for five years learning Thai Boxing.Kumar also has a sister, Alka Bhatia.When Kumar was a teenager, his father asked him what he aspired to be. Kumar expressed his desire to become an actor.
1991–1999 – Film Career:
Kumar made his first appearance as the lead actor opposite Raakhee and Shantipriya in Saugandh (1991). In the same year, he acted in Kishore Vyas-directed Dancer, which received poor reviews. The following year he starred in Abbas Mustan-directed suspense thriller, Khiladi, widely considered his breakthrough role.
His next release was the Raj Sippy-directed detective film Mr. Bond, based on James Bond.His last release of 1992 was Deedar. It failed to perform well at the box office.In 1993, he acted in the Keshu Ramsay-directed bilingual film Ashaant (released in Kannada as Vishnu-Vijaya) and starring Dr. Vishnuvardhan, Ashwini Bhave and Ashutosh Rana.
All of his films released during 1993, including Dil Ki Baazi, Kayda Kanoon, Waqt Hamara Hai and Sainik did not perform well commercially.In 1994, he played a police inspector in two films: Sameer Malkan-directed remake of Hollywood film The Hard Way, Main Khiladi Tu Anari and Rajiv Rai-directed Mohra which were among the highest-grossing films of the year. Later that year, he starred in Yash Chopra-produced romance, Yeh Dillagi opposite Kajol.
His role in the film earned Kumar his first nomination for Best Actor at the Filmfare Awards and Star Screen award. During the same year, Kumar also had success with films like Suhaag and the low budget action film Elaan. All these achievements, promoted Kumar as one of the most successful actors of the year. In 1994, he appeared in 11 feature films.
2000–2006 – Film Career:
In 2000, Kumar starred in the Priyadarshan-directed comedy Hera Pheri alongside Paresh Rawal and Sunil Shetty. The film which was a remake of Malayalam film Ramji Rao Speaking,became a commercial success[and proved to be a turning point in Kumar’s career.
He also starred in the Dharmesh Darshan-directed romantic drama Dhadkan later that same year. The film performed moderately at the box office, but Kumar was praised for his acting. Rediff.com’s review stated that he had proved that he is “director’s actor” and that “he has worked hard on his role is apparent.” That same year, he performed some of his most dangerous stunts in Neeraj Vora-directed action thriller Khiladi 420, where he climbed a running plane, stood on top of the plane flying a thousand feet in the air, and jumped from the plane onto a hot air balloon. In a later scene, he is also seen being chased by a car, dodging bullets, jumping off buildings, and climbing walls.
His character in the film had two names and his role received mixed reviews. In his review, Taran Adarsh wrote that “The actor does a great job in a role that has negative shades, but as a softie in the second half, he is just about okay. And that’s mainly because he has been asked to do what he has been doing in film after film. Nevertheless, Khiladi 420 is amongst his finest performances.” Sukanya Verma wrote “Negative roles and Akshay Kumar don’t go hand-in-hand. […] Akshay is ridiculously over the top and irritating to the core. However, he manages a decent performance as the sober and suave Anand.” His first release in 2001 was Suneel Darshan-directed drama Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love.
Kumar was praised for his performance in the film.[Next, he played a negative role in the Abbas Mustan-directed film Ajnabee.While reviewing the film for Rediff.com, Sarita Tanwar termed Kumar the “surprise package” of the film. She added that he was “in total control as the bad guy.”The film won him critical acclaim as well as his first Filmfare Award for Best Villain and IIFA award 2002 for Performance in a Negative Role.
Next, he starred in a sequel to Hera Pheri titled Phir Hera Pheri. As was the former, the sequel became a huge success at the box office. Later that year he starred alongside Salman Khan and Preity Zinta in the Shirish Kunder-directed romantic musical film Jaan-E-Mann.
The film was a well anticipated release, and despite receiving positive reviews from critics, did not do as well as expected at the box office.The film received mostly negatively reviews. Vidya Pradhan of Rediff.com called it a “bizarre movie.” Though the film under-performed, his role as a shy, lovable nerd was praised. He ended the year with Priyadarshan’s comedy murder mystery film Bhagam Bhag.
He starred alongside Lara Dutta, Govinda and Paresh Rawal and played the character of a theatre actor. The film received mixed reviews and Rediff.com called Kumar the real hero of the film. The film was commercially successful. The same year, he led the Heat 2006 world tour along with fellow stars Saif Ali Khan, Preity Zinta, Sushmita Sen and Celina Jaitley.
2007–2011 – Film Career:
2007 proved to be Kumar’s most successful year during his career in the industry, and as described by box office analysts, “probably the best ever recorded by an actor, with four outright hits and no flops.”His first release, Vipul Amrutlal Shah-directed Namastey London, was critically and commercially successful, and his performance earned him a Best Actor nomination at the Filmfare. Critic Taran Adarsh wrote of his performance in the film, “he’s sure to win the hearts of millions of moviegoers with a terrific portrayal in this film.
“Kumar’s chemistry with lead actress Katrina Kaif also generated immense appreciation, with Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India describing their pairing as “refreshing.”His next two releases, Sajid Khan-directed Heyy Babyy and Priyadarshan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa, were box office successes as well.In both of these films he starred opposite Vidya Balan. Kumar’s last release of the year, the Anees Bazmee-directed Welcome, did extremely well at the box office, receiving a blockbuster status and simultaneously becoming his fifth successive hit.
All of Kumar’s films which released that year did well in the overseas market as well. Kumar appeared in a cameo role in Farah Khan directed Om Shanti Om. His role was listed as no. 3 on the Top 10 Cameos in Bollywood list of MensXP.com.
Kumar’s first film of 2008, Vijay Krishna Acharya-directed action thriller Tashan, marked his comeback to the Yash Raj Films banner after 11 years. Although a poll (conducted by Bollywood Hungama) named it the most anticipated release of the year, the film under-performed at the box office grossing ₹279 million (US$4.0 million) in India.
His second film, Bazmee-directed Singh Is Kinng in which he starred opposite Kaif was a huge success at the box office and broke the first-week worldwide record of Om Shanti Om, the previous highest figure. His next film was the animated film Jumbo, directed by Kompin Kemgumnird. The year also saw Kumar making his small screen debut as the host of the successful show Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi. He later returned to host the show’s second season in 2009.
In 2009, Kumar featured opposite Deepika Padukone in the Warner Bros. and Rohan Sippy production Chandni Chowk to China. Directed by Nikhil Advani, the film was a critical and commercial failure at the box office.
Kumar’s next release was 8 x 10 Tasveer. Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, the film was a commercially failure however Akshay Kumar won the Stardust Best Actor Award for his controlled and restrained performance. His next release was Sabbir Khan‘s battle-of-the-sexes comedy Kambakkht Ishq. Set in Los Angeles, it was the first Indian film to be shot at Universal Studios and featured cameo appearances by Hollywood actors.
The film was poorly received by critics but became an economic success, earning over ₹840 million (US$12 million) worldwide. Kumar’s film Blue was released on 16 October 2009. Blue received negative reviews and collected about ₹ 420 million at the box office. His last release in 2009 was Priyadarshan’s De Dana Dan. He starred alongside Katrina Kaif, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal. Kumar played a servant who plans to kidnap his owner’s dog. The film received mixed reviews.
He then appeared in the 2010 comedy, Housefull, directed by Sajid Khan which garnered the second-highest opening weekend collection of all time. Kumar’s next release was Khatta Meetha, directed by Priyadarshan which was an average grosser. The film received negative reviews. Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN called it a schizophrenic film. He also appeared in Vipul Shah‘s Action Replayy, which was a box office failure. The film received mostly negative reviews. His last film of 2010 was Tees Maar Khan. Directed by Farah Khan, the film received poor critical reviews and turned out to be a commercial failure.
In 2011 he starred in Patiala House and Thank You. His last film of 2011 was Rohit Dhawan-directed Desi Boyz (2011), which co-starred John Abraham, Chitrangada Singh and Deepika Padukone. He also co-produced a film with Russell Peters titled Breakaway (dubbed into Hindi as Speedy Singhs) which is reminiscent of his own Patiala House. Breakaway became the highest-grossing cross-cultural movie of 2011 in Canada. Kumar dubbed for the role of Optimus Prime in the Hindi version of Hollywood, action blockbuster, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. He took the dubbing role for his son, Aarav, and did so for free.
2012–present – Film Career
His first release was Airlift released on 22 January 2016 was critically and commercially successful,and second Housefull 3 was released on 3 June 2016. Namastey England, sequel to Namastey London has been announced. Rustom which was produced by Neeraj Pandey and marked his 3rd release of 2016. Akshay was praised for his performance in Rustom which garned him numerous award nominations. Rustom grossed more than 2 billion at the box office. Both Airlift and Rustom earned him the National Film Award for Best Actor.
His only film release in 2017 was Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. This film depicted the serious of issue of Toilets in certain regions of the country. Akshay’s performance was praised. Akshay Kumar dug a toilet in Madhya Pradesh to promote the film. The movie trailer was released on 11 June 2017. PM Modi called it a good effort to further the message of cleanliness, as per Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
In 2018, Akshay starred in the social drama film Pad Man alongside Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte. He later made his Tamil cinema debut in the science fiction thriller 2.0, co-starring Rajinikanth, in which he played an evil ornithologist named Pakshirajan.
In 2019, Kumar appeared in Karan Johar‘s film Kesari opposite Parineeti Chopra, based on the story of the Battle of Saragarhi. The film grossed over ₹200 crore (US$29 million) worldwide. He is featuring in Mission Mangal with an ensemble cast of Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Nithya Menen, Sharman Joshi and Sonakshi Sinha. The film is about the story of scientists at Indian Space Research Organisation who contributed to the Mars Orbiter Mission, which marked India’s first interplanetary expedition. His next release in December 2019 is Karan Johar‘s and his own production Good News, a romantic comedy about surrogacy, opposite Kareena Kapoor Khan.
As of July 2019, Kumar has one more films Housefull 4 directed by Farhad Samji coming up in 2019. He has two films Laxmmi Bomb directed by Raghava Lawrence, a remake of the Tamil horror comedy film Kanchana 2 (2015) and Sooryavanshi directed by Rohit Shetty, which are releasing in 2020.
After being engaged twice to actress Twinkle Khanna, the daughter of actors Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia, Kumar married her on 17 January 2001. Together they have a son, Aarav and a daughter Nitara. He is known as a protective father and keeps his children away from the media. He stated that he wants to “give them a normal childhood.”In 2009, while performing at a show for Levis at Lakme Fashion Week, Kumar asked Twinkle to unbutton his jeans. This incident sparked a controversy which led to a police case being filed against them.
Kumar stays in shape with a combination of kickboxing, basketball, swimming and Parkour as well as working out. While in standard eighth he had started practising Karate. He intended to open a martial arts school and the state government of Maharashtra allotted land for the school in Bhayandar.In 2004, he was honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Award for his outstanding achievements in Bollywood. In the same year, he presented the television series Seven Deadly Arts with Akshay Kumar for free.