As you may or may not know, besides being Arshad Warsi’s head cheerleader and Katrina Kaif’s off-screen love interest, I’m also founder and president of the Akshay Kumar No. 1 Ladies Fan Club. (Yes, I’m very busy - but then Kat is always jetting off to exotic locales without me, so I must keep out of trouble somehow...!) With Khatta Meetha opening soon, I thought it was an appropriate time to add to my series of posts on why I like or dislike certain actors with my take on the Khiladi himself - Akshay Kumar.
While his rugged good looks and very macho way of strutting about certainally don’t hurt his appeal, what I really love about Akshay is his sincerity in his performances and his work ethic. Here is a man who is unafraid to challenge himself but is also unafraid to do a balls-to-the-wall film commercial film like Singh is Kinng without smothering his performance in winks to the audience. Some people are made uncomfortable by sincerity in things like extreme physical comedy, action stunts, dancing that utilizes the art of the pelvic thrust, and a sexual charisma. These people do not usually like Akshay Kumar.
Akshay is, at his best, a physical actor. Sure, in real life he is the suave Bollywood star but on screen he can transform into an average working class Raja (Hera Pheri), an uber-nerd (Jaan-e-Mann), or a village naïf with a heart of gold (Singh is Kinng). He inhabits each character differently but always with that twinkle (no pun intended) in his eye that makes you (or at least me) love even his most obnoxious of characters - would we have loved the alpha male Sunny from Mujhse Shaadi Karogi if he had been played by Aamir Khan or Chunky Pandey or somebody? No, probably not.
But like I said, not everybody appreciates the talent it takes to bring physical comedy and outrageous characters to life - and by “not everybody” I mean professional critics and a certain segment of the viewing public that frowns on over-the-top - and that’s a shame. Sure, pratfalls aren’t necessarily high art but they can be exquisitely funny. Chandni Chowk to China got very little love from anybody (except me and maybe Veracious) for partly this reason, I think. People going into it looking for good fight scenes or high romance were pretty much screwed but those of us who love a good pratfall and comically outsized expression set to an obnoxiously loud sound effect track were in heaven. From Akshay slipping on a banana peel during a fantasy sequence to Akshay busting out into his trademarked “Churake Dil Mera” hip thrusts during a fight scene, he puts in a fantastic show.
It’s not all comedy with the Khiladi, though, and my favorite Akshay Kumar role has to be as Bachchan Pande in Tashan - another film that was brutally torn apart by the critics. In Tashan, Akshay takes us through his full range. Bachchan Pande is an alpha male-thug but one who has a soft side. He gleefully plays the comic foil to the slick Saif Ali Khan, stirs up a mountain of chemistry with Kareena Kapoor, and dishoom-dishooms like it’s going out of style (which it kind of is.) He is sensitive, tough, funny, sincere, insincere, earnest, romantic, and religious - in other words, Bachchan Pande is a complete person, not just a straw character and Akshay Kumar is the man who brings him to life.
So, if Akshay is so great, why doesn’t he get (to quote Rodney Dangerfield) more respect? I can think of a few reasons that may contribute. For one thing, Akshay sticks to exactly the kind of low-brow films that get no respect from critics and awards committees. He may put in great performances in them but the films themselves are considered trashy. And the artsy films that he does pick are always weird ones - like Jaan-e-Mann, which I loved but flopped miserably. And maybe he is more like Govinda in that regard - picking films that will succeed rather than films that are Important (capital I).
And I haven’t yet mentioned that Akshay is not from a filmi family, although he did marry into one, and that may have something to do with it, too. Star sons and industry insiders will always get more praise from, well, fellow industry insiders. And while Akshay does have a reputation as a womanizer, he doesn’t have a reputation as a partier - and perhaps he just isn’t good at the backstage gladhandling that somebody like fellow outsider Shahrukh excels at. (If somebody knows differently, by all means, let me know!)
Whatever the reasons, Akshay Kumar seems to be constantly skirting the edges of the Big Three Khans. Even when Shahrukh, Aamir, and Salman put out one hit film a year and Akki puts out 5, the balance of power is firmly on Team Khan(s).
But what is in the future for my beloved Khiladi? (A trip to visit his number one fan in the USA?!) He has Khatta Meetha coming out this weekend, which should be a hit in the rural areas, at least. And then there are two big potential hits coming down the pike - Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan, where he is paired opposite “lucky charm” Katrina Kaif (EEEEEEEEEE!) and Action Replayy opposite the World’s Most Beautiful Woman, Aishwarya Rai. Big budgets, good USPs, and potential hits for the rural, urban, and NRI audiences.
No matter how they turn out, I’m sure I’ll love them... and him.
Akshay Kumar No. 1 Ladies Fan Club, signing out.
xxoo Filmi Girl
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Note from Filmi Girl:
I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.
If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.
xoxo Filmi Girl