We bring to you 10 turning points in Akshay Kumars’s film career that spans almost 30 years.
- Khiladi (1992) – Akshay ventured into Bollywood in 1991 with ‘Saugandh’ followed by ‘Aaj’ and ‘Dancer’ – which unfortunately were major flops and it wasn’t until ‘Khiladi’, which released the following year, that Akshay Kumar saw the light of the day in the industry. Directed by Abbas Mastan, also starring Ayesha Jhulka, was a success at the box office and was a first in the ‘Khiladi’ film series that ensued. It was the film which earned him the title of Khiladi for his onscreen daredevilry.
- Mohra (1994)- Two years post the release of Khiladi were followed by a slump of movies including ‘Deedar’,’ Sainik’ and ‘Waqt Humara Hai’, but true to his earned title of “Khiladi’, Akshay bounced back in 1994 with four back to back hits, including Yeh Dillagi, Main Khiladi Tu Anari , Suhaag and ‘Mohra’. Mohra, which also starred Raveena Tondon, Naseerudin Shah, Sunil Shetty and Paresh Rawal, turned out to be the second highest grosser that year. Mohra cemented Akshay’s position as the ultimate action hero exuding raw sex appeal in a way never experienced by hindi cine lovers. The display of his sculpted chest and intense masculine antics in ‘tip tip barsa pani’ still makes the females go in a tizzy
- ‘Khiladi’-fication (1995-1999)- Kumar failed to capitalize on success that Mohra brought, and was inadvertently focused on Khiladi series of films which included ‘Sabse Bada Khiladi’(1995) ‘Khiladiyon ka Khiladi’(1996), Mr and Mrs. Khiladi(1997) and International Khiladi (1999) . All his films except the ones of the Khiladi series bore no fruits at the box office. The critics who were awed by his rustic charm in Mohra, questioned his versatility owing to his action based choice of films. This nevertheless had less impact on the audience who were enamored by his audacious stunts, whether it was knocking out WWE legend ‘Undertaker’ or climbing and jumping off chopper to save the day.
- Sangharsh (1999) – Sangharsh gave a plinth to Akshay to prove to all his critics who casted shadows on his acting abilities. His role of a convict who helps CBI Officer ( Priety Zinta) investigate series of child abductions and murders to nab serial killer Lajja Shankar (Ashutosh Rana). The movie didn’t do well at the box office but was widely appreciated by critics who termed this to be Kumar’s career best performance. Sangharsh was followed by immense success of ‘Janwar’ and revived Akshay’s career which was beginning to stagnate.
- Hera-Pheri (2000) – Hera Pheri was a game changer for Akshay. Through this film he expanded his forte from an action hero to a fully fledged family entertainer. His comic timing was impeccable and his camaraderie with his co actors Paresh Rawal and Sunil Shetty was rib-tickling. The film achieved a cult status and is regarded as one of the best Hindi comedy films ever made.
- Dhadkan (2000) – A romantic- drama about a love triangle portrayed by Sunil Shetty, Shilpa Shetty and Akshay Kumar. The film was a critical as well as commercial success. Akshay Kumar played the perfect ‘Adarsh” husband (Ram) who is both gorgeous and virtuous. His deep sincerity in playing a loving and a trusting husband made all the single women rush to temples to pray for their own ‘Ram’. The film industry gushed over his performance. Rediff reviews read, “Akshay Kumar proves he is a director’s actor – that he has worked hard on his role is apparent.” The following year, he won an award for ‘Actor in a negative role’ for his part in the film ‘Ajnabee’.
- One Step At A Time ( 2003-2006) – Akshay gave consistent hits during this period including, Andaaz (2003), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Aitraaz( 2005), Waqt-Race against time(2005), Garam Masala(2005) and Phir Hera Pheri (2006). Aitraaz again was a remarkable film in its own right where Akshay played the victim of sexual harassment by his female employer( Priyanka Chopra). Except Aitraaz, Akshay stuck mostly to family entertainers and comedy genre and became Mr. Reliable for producers in taking movies through the box office race.
- Rise to Superstardom (2007-2008)- The year 2007 proved to be vital for Akshay as it ensured his ingression in the list of Bollywood biggies. Bollywood cinema for the first time witnessed four back to back blockbusters – ‘Namastey London’, ‘Hey Baby’, ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’ and ‘Welcome’, all of his four release weaved magic on the screen and towed spectators in flocks. Media proclaimed that his achievement was nothing short of historic as all the Khans had too mustered a hit or two including Om shanti Om and Taare Zameen Par, but none managed the jubilation that Akshay conjured. The 2007 feat was closely matched by his 2008 blockbuster release ‘Singh Is King’. The film saw Akshay in the role of a joyous, ecstatic Sikh who danced laughed, fought, romanced and with all that won over the hearts of his audience as a hinterland’s simpleton. His stronghold in the industry was reflected in his popularity which resulted in him being the highest paid actor in Bollywood further augmented by brands like levis scurrying in beeline to rope him in as a brand ambassador.
- The roller coaster ride (2009-2012) – The rapid rise to Superstardom took a downswing the year that ensued. Akshay was raked over the coals for his choice of films that seemed to be repetitive and lacking good content. Some even went as far as to say that he was a repeat offender by making the same choices which led his career to a rut in the 90s. His big budget films like ‘Chandni Chowk to China’(2009), ‘ Blue’(2009), Tees Maar Khan (2010), Action Relplay(2011), saw the blues at the box office. Then again Khiladi catapulted back and took the industry by surprise with ‘Housefull 2 (2012)’and ‘Rowdy Rathore’(2012) , both a commercial success grossing over 100 crores each.
- Hard-Hitting cinema (2013 -2015) – Akshay gave a fitting response to everyone who postulated that his movies lacked good content. From ‘Oh my God’(2012) which was a repartee on religious fanaticism, to ‘Special 26’ (2013) – where he played a con man, were acknowledged as gripping and awe-inducing filmmaking. Akshay was appreciated for the subtleties he brought in his roles. Khiladi Kumar ensured the flow of good content based- films with ‘Holiday’(2014), ‘Baby’(2015) and ‘Brothers’(2015) which did rather well commercially and critically.
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