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 is one of the most prolific actors of Indian cinema, having starred in 110 films, of which many were commercially successful. He was the first Bollywood actor whose films’ domestic net lifetime collections crossed ₹20 billion (US$290 million) by 2013, and ₹30 billion (US$430 million) by 2016. Having done so, he has established himself as one of the prominent actors of Hindi cinema. When he began his acting career in the 1990s, he primarily starred in action films. Later, Kumar also gained fame for his drama, romantic and comic roles.
Apart from acting, Kumar has worked as a stunt actor; he has often performed many dangerous stunts in his films, which has earned him the sobriquet “Indian Jackie Chan”. In 2008, he hosted the show Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi. In 2009, he founded the Hari Om Entertainment production company and Grazing Goat Pictures production company in 2012. In 2014, Kumar launched the TV reality show Dare 2 Dance. He also owns the team Khalsa Warriors in the World Kabaddi League. As of 2019, according to Forbes, Akshay was the fourth highest paid actor in the world and the highest paid in India .
In 2008, the University of Windsor conferred an honorary Doctorate on Kumar in recognition of his contribution to Indian cinema. In 2009, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. In 2011, The Asian Awards honoured Kumar for his outstanding achievement in cinema.
EARLY LIFE AND BACKGROUND
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.
After having obtained a black belt in Taekwondo while in India, he studied martial arts in Bangkok, Thailand, where he learned Muay Thai and worked as a chef and waiter. After Thailand, Kumar went to work in Kolkata in a travel agency, in Dhaka in a hotel and Delhi where he sold Kundan jewellery. Upon his return to Mumbai, he commenced the teaching of martial arts.
During this time, the father of one of his students, himself a model co-ordinator, recommended Kumar into modelling which ultimately led to a modelling assignment for a furniture showroom. Kumar effectively made more money within the first two days of shooting than in his entire month’s salary, and therefore chose a modelling career path. He worked as an assistant for photographer Jayesh Sheth for 18 months without payment to shoot his first portfolio. He also worked as a background dancer in various films. One morning, he missed his flight for an ad-shoot in Bangalore. Disappointed with himself, he visited a film studio along with his portfolio. That evening, Kumar was signed for a lead role by producer Pramod Chakravarthy for the movie Deedar.
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.
The following year, Kumar played dual role in Umesh Mehra-directed action thriller, Sabse Bada Khiladi, which was a commercial success. He proved to have success with the Khiladi series, as in the next year he starred in the fourth film of the Khiladi series, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi opposite Rekha and Raveena Tandon. The film was a commercial success. During the film’s shooting Kumar was injured. He received treatment in United States.
Kumar played a supporting role in Yash Chopra-directed romance, Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), co-starring Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor, for which he received his first nomination for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. In the same year, he starred opposite Juhi Chawla in David Dhawan-directed comedy Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi, fifth instalment of the Khiladi series. Unlike his previous films of the series, it failed commercially. His following releases failed commercial and this caused a setback to his film career. In 1999, Kumar played opposite Twinkle Khanna in International Khiladi. The film turned out to be an average grosser at the box office. He received critical acclaim for his roles in the films Sangharsh and Jaanwar. Whilst the former did not make a profit at the box office, the latter turned out to be a commercial success and marked his comeback.
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.
Kumar on the set of Heyy Babyy, 2007.
His first release in 2002 was Dharmesh Darshan-directed romantic drama Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya. He played the role as a blind man in Vipul Amrutlal Shah and Shaarang Dev Pandit-directed heist film Aankhen, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, Arjun Rampal, Aditya Pancholi, Sushmita Sen and Paresh Rawal. His performance in the film was critically acclaimed. Next, he starred in the Vikram Bhatt-directed comedy Awara Paagal Deewana. Rediff.com’s review of the film mentioned that his sincerity and intensity seen in Hera Pheri, Ek Rishtaa – The Bond of Love and Aankhen “seems missing”. His last film of the year was Rajkumar Kohli-directed supernatural horror film Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani alongside Manisha Koirala, Sunil Shetty, Sunny Deol, Aftab Shivdasani, Arshad Warsi, Aditya Pancholi and Armaan Kohli. The film was a remake of Kohli’s former film Naagin and received mostly negative reviews from critics. Taran Adarsh wrote “only Munish[Armaan] Kohli and Akshay Kumar leave an impact.” In 2003 he starred in Suneel Darshan’s action film Talaash: The Hunt Begins… opposite Kareena Kapoor. While reviewing the film, Taran Adarsh wrote “Akshay Kumar is plain mediocre. The role hardly offers him scope to try out anything different.” Next, he starred in Raj Kanwar-directed romantic drama Andaaz alongside Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but turned out to be a commercial success at the box office and the first universal hit of 2003.
In 2004 Kumar starred in Rajkumar Santoshi’s action drama thriller Khakee alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn and Aishwarya Rai. Kumar played the role of Inspector Shekhar Verma, a corrupt, morally bankrupt cop who changes himself during a mission to transfer an accused Pakistani spy Dr. Iqbal Ansari (played by Atul Kulkarni) from a remote town in Maharashtra to Mumbai. The film and Kumar’s acting were positively reviewed by critics. He was nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for his role in the film. His other releases included Dileep Shukla’s crime film Police Force: An Inside Story. He starred alongside Raveena Tandon, Amrish Puri and Raj Babbar. The film’s production was delayed following the break-up of the lead actors Tandon and Kumar. Upon release it received negative reviews from critics. Next, Kumar played Hari Om Patnaik, an IPS officer in Madhur Bhandarkar-directed Aan: Men at Work. He starred in David Dhawan-directed romantic comedy Mujhse Shaadi Karogi alongside Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra. He played the role of Sunny, Sameer (played by Khan)’s roommate who pursuits Rani (played by Chopra)-Sameer’s love interest. The film received positive reviews. Taran Adarsh praised Kumar and wrote “Akshay Kumar is a revelation […] he surpasses his previous work. His timing is fantastic and the conviction with which he carries off the evil streak in his personality is bound to be talked-about in days to come.” His performance in the film earned him his third nomination for supporting actor at the Filmfare Awards as well as a nomination for best comic role. His other films included Abbas-Mustan directed Aitraaz and S M Iqbal’s Meri Biwi Ka Jawaab Nahin. In the former, Kumar played against type as a worker wrongly accused of sexual harassment by his female boss played by Chopra. According to the directors, Aitraaz was inspired by National Basketball Association player Kobe Bryant (who was accused of rape by a fan); and the film’s development began when they read about his sexual-assault case in the newspapers. Talking about the character Kumar said that it is realistic and could be described as a “new-age metrosexual” man. He added that Aitraaz was the boldest film he had done. In the latter he starred opposite Sridevi. The film was shot in 1994 but was released in 2004 after a delay of 10 years.
Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif on the set of Namastey London
The next year Kumar starred in Dharmesh Darshan-directed romantic drama musical film Bewafaa opposite Kareena Kapoor. He played the role of Raja, an aspiring musician who pursues his love interest Anjali (played by Kareena Kapoor) even after she is married to Aditya Sahai (played by Anil Kapoor). The film received mixed reviews from film critic but Kumar was praised for his acting. Anupama Chopra of India Today wrote that “Kareena Kapoor and Kumar stand out.” Taran Adarsh wrote “Akshay Kumar does well in a role that fits him like a glove.” Later that year he acted in Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s family drama Waqt: The Race Against Time alongside Amitabh Bachchan, another Priyadarshan-directed comedy Garam Masala alongside John Abraham. Waqt: The Race Against Time was a family drama film. The film and Kumar’s acting received mixed reviews. Vishal D’Souza wrote “Akshay shoulders an author-backed role, carrying more of the film’s emotional baggage though he is distinctly uncomfortable in the soppy-weepy scenes.” The films succeeded at the box office and his performance in the latter earned him his second Filmfare Award, for Best Comedian. His other films included Vikram Bhatt-directed action comedy romance film Deewane Huye Paagal and Suneel Darshan directed romantic drama Dosti: Friends Forever. In the former he starred alongside Shahid Kapoor, Sunil Shetty and Rimi Sen while in the latter he starred alongside Kareena Kapoor and Bobby Deol. Both of these films received positive reviews.
Kumar’s first release of 2006 was Rajkumar Santoshi-directed drama Family – Ties of Blood followed by Suneel Darshan’s Mere Jeevan Saathi and Raj Kanwar’s Humko Deewana Kar Gaye. 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.
Kumar with Katrina Kaif on the sets of Welcome (2007); the duo received appreciation for their pairing and appeared in several successful films together
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.
Kumar with his Housefull series co-star Jacqueline Fernandez.
His first release of 2012 was Housefull 2, a sequel of his earlier comedy film Housefull. The film received mixed reviews from critics but was very successful at the box office. It was also a huge hit in overseas market and the biggest Bollywood grosser in New Zealand. Kumar’s next film was the Prabhudeva-directed action drama Rowdy Rathore in which he played a double role opposite Sonakshi Sinha. The film earned more than ₹1.3 billion (US$19 million) in India and was a huge box office success, being declared a “blockbuster”. Both of these films grossed over ₹1 billion (US$14 million) at the box office. Although the former film received mixed reviews; Kumar’s performance in it was praised. In 2012, he founded another production company called Grazing Goat Pictures Pvt Ltd. Joker was reportedly promoted as Kumar’s 100th film, but later Akshay Kumar clarified that the 100th film landmark had been crossed long before he even signed up for Joker. “It was a miscalculation on Shirish’s part. OMG is my 116th film,” he said. Kumar kept himself away from the film’s promotion due to differences with Kunder. Reacting to Kumar’s backing out from the film’s promotion Kunder tweeted “A true leader takes responsibility for his team and leads them through thick and thin. Never abandons them and runs away.” He later deleted the tweet. His later release Oh My God which he produced and starred along with Paresh Rawal. It had a slow opening but because of word of mouth it picked up and then was declared a super hit.
His last release in 2012 was Khiladi 786, the eighth instalment in his famous Khiladi series as well as the comeback of the series after 12 years. Although film was panned by critics it was a Semihit at the box office grossing 700 million at domestic box office. His first release in 2013 was Special Chabbis which earned a positive critical reception and was moderately successful at the box office. Although the movie earned him positive reviews and commercial success, trade analysts noted that the movie could have done much better business due to its good content and Kumar’s high-profile. Milan Luthria chose Kumar to play the character of Shoaib Khan (based on Dawood Ibrahim) in the gangster film Once Upon ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara!, sequel to Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai. It proved to be a below average at the box office. The film was declared a “flop” by Box Office India. It received mixed reviews however Kumar’s acting was praised by a majority of critics. In a review for Hindustan Times, Anupama Chopra wrote that Kumar “makes a stellar killer”. Madhureeta Mukherjee of The Times of India praised Kumar’s performance and said that “Bhai act with flamboyance and mojo … He gets a chance to do what he does best – herogiri (albeit less menacing, more entertaining), with charisma and clap-trap dialoguebaazi.” Al Pacino saw the film’s trailer and promos and admired Kumar’s portrayal of Shoaib Khan, a gangster. He said that the promos and posters reminded him of his own The Godfather. Kumar said of Pacino’s response: “A touch of appreciation is always held dearly in an actor’s arms, even if it’s from the simplest of people like our beloved spot boys. But to have your work spoken of so kindly by the world’s most admired gangster Al Pacino himself – I had goose-bumps thinking about him watching the promo! I was so humbled, not only as an actor but as a fan of his legendary work.” Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN criticised Kumar for his “in-your-face flamboyance”. After the film’s mainly negative reviews, Kumar lashed out at critics, accusing them of lacking an understanding of the audience and the basic ideas of filmmaking. Built on an approximate budget of ₹1 billion (US$14 million), it was the first major Hindi language film to be shot in Oman. Kumar received a nomination for Best Actor in a Negative Role at Zee Cine Awards.
His next release was Anthony D Souza’s Boss alongside Shiv Panditt and Aditi Rao Hydari. The movie received average to good reviews however turned out to be a failure at Box office grossing 54 crore nett domestically. Kumar came back strongly with Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty, the Hindi remake of the 2012 Tamil film Thuppakki. This action drama earned both critical and commercial success entering the 1 billion elite club and became the highest grosser of 2014. The film received critical acclaim and is Kumar’s third film to gross over ₹1 billion (US$14 million) at the box office. Kumar has sung a song for his recent film It’s Entertainment. Making of the song has been uploaded on YouTube. His last film of 2014 was The Shaukeens. He appeared as himself and produced it. He played the lead role in the thriller Baby and Gabbar is Back. Kumar’s first collaboration with Karan Johar, Brothers was released on 14 August 2015. His next release was Singh is Bling was released on 2 October 2015 and is produced by Grazing Goats Pictures.
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.
PERSONAL LIFE AND OFF-SCREEN WORK
Kumar with his wife Twinkle Khanna (left) and mother-in-law, Dimple Kapadia (right).
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.
In 2008, he was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People (India) magazine.
Kumar with his wife Twinkle Khanna at the launch of Mrs Funnybones in 2015
The following year Kumar was awarded the highest Japanese honour of “Katana” and a sixth degree black belt in Kuyukai Gōjū-ryū karate. Akshay has close ties to Canada, where he received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Windsor, and has taken Canadian citizenship; while he claims dual citizenship, he is likely an Overseas Citizen of India based on the fact that the Constitution of India prohibits full dual citizenship. He was one of the 15 international celebrities invited for the Olympics torch-bearer rally to Canada. He became responsible to endorse the Canadian Tourism by sharing the duty of Brand Ambassador until the summer of 2012. In March 2013, he started a 30-bed cancer shelter for policemen in Naigaon.
Akshay Kumar is a religious, practising Shaiva Hindu who has regularly visited shrines and temples across the country, including the famed Vaishno Devi Mandir. Akshay Kumar is a teetotaller but has endorsed for a liquor brand in the past. Half of the sum was given for daan (charity work), of which he has been doing more of in recent times. He has also donated ₹5 million (US$72,000) to Salman Khan’s Being Human Foundation. As of 2013, Kumar has been the Hindi film industry’s highest advance taxpayer for six consecutive years. He paid ₹190 million (US$2.7 million) as advance tax payment in that year.
In 1997, Kumar endorsed for Pepsi. He previously endorsed for Thums Up for several years. He had also endorsed for Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India, footwear brand Relaxo, Dollar Club, Micromax Mobile, Red Label, LG Electronics and Manappuram Gold Loan. On 9 August 2014, Kumar performed at his 500th live show. The show was held in O2 Arena in London as part of the inaugural function of the World Kabaddi League. His first live show was held in 1991 in Delhi. Kumar owns a team in the Kabbadi League. He helped Khanna with editing the drafts of her debut book Mrs Funnybones. Kumar also had donated a sum of ₹9 million to drought hit farmers in Maharashtra in 2015. He has also donated ₹5 million to aid drought affected people through the Maharashtra government’s Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan.
On 9 April 2017, Kumar and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promoted a mobile phone app, Bharat Ke Veer, which allows users to donate money to families of people who sacrificed their lives for India. Again on 20 January 2018, he participated in the launch of an Anthem for the initiative. In an event in Delhi he appealed for people to donate to the Bharat Ke Veer cause, and ₹12.93 crores was collected.
AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS
Kumar has been recipient of two Filmfare Awards from 13 nominations: Best Villain for Ajnabee (2002) and Best Comedian for Garam Masala (2006), and a National Film Award for Best Actor for the films Rustom and Airlift (both 2016). In 2008, the University of Windsor conferred an honorary Doctorate of Law on Kumar in recognition of his contribution to Indian cinema. The following year, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. In 2011, The Asian Awards honoured Kumar for his outstanding achievement in Cinema.