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    Apr 2011

    Default The best way to survive is to be you

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    Akki was swinging from monkey bars when he realised he has completed 20 years in Bollywood

    In 1991, a tall, dark and good looking 24-year-old man made his Bollywood debut with Pramod Chakravarthy’s Saugandh. A year later, with Abbas-Mastan’s college thriller Khiladi, the actor tasted success.

    Christened Khiladi Kumar after his first blockbuster, Akshay Kumar slowly but steadily rose to stardom. Completing 20 years in Bollywood, the actor recalls his struggle to the top, marriage to superstar Rajesh Khanna’s daughter and missing his own father.

    “I was in my gym swinging from the monkey bars, the day I officially completed 20 years in the industry. Honestly, I didn’t know what to feel. Back then, I never thought I would still be making movies 20 years down the line. I remember taking my family for the first screening of my debut film thinking, ‘There you go, this is enough to make them proud’.

    Their happiness gave me the strength and determination to try harder every day. At every screening, since my first, the smiles on their faces make all the pain and effort seem worthwhile,” recalls the actor.

    Born in Amritsar, raised in Delhi and then working as a chef in Bangkok, Akshay had no connections to the film industry.

    And after his initial break, the actor had to try really hard to create his own space in the industry. “No matter how much you are loved or respected, the minute you lose focus, or make a small mistake, people will tear you apart. One has to deal with it. You give your best, stay immune to gossip and think only about your goal.

    “The best way to survive in this industry is to be the person ‘you’ want to be and do what ‘you’ feel is right,” adds the actor.

    It was like a fairytale for Akshay when having found his foothold in the industry; he won the heart of superstar Rajesh Khanna’s daughter Twinkle. “Every man’s ultimate dream is to marry the woman he loves. But for me, marrying a woman born to a world I could only dream about...was something else.

    My soul mate was waiting for me here. Had I not made an effort to get where I am in life, I may never have met Twinkle - the one woman who made me the man I am and the father I was destined to be.”

    Even after twenty years in the industry, Akshay doesn’t let people get too close to him. “No one has got close enough to use or abuse me and even if they did, I wouldn’t get too emotional about it. The only thing I ever get emotional about is my family. I am kind to everyone but I trust no one. That keeps me from getting hurt,” reveals the actor.

    Even today, the one person Akshay misses is his father, late Hariom Bhatia. “I miss him more in happier times. When the going gets tough, I think about all that he ever taught me. But in happier times, I miss him more.

    I miss not sharing my happiness with him. Every day I wish my father could see me with my son Aarav. That’s when I miss him the most. Work is work, but family is for life. That’s what really matters to me,” concludes the Khiladi of Bollywood.

    Akki's rise to stardom

    1991: Makes a humble beginning with Saugandh

    1992: Success strikes with Khiladi

    1992: Enters the big league, signs Yash Chopra's production Yeh Dillagi

    1993: Gets the best actor nomination for Yeh Dillagi

    1995: The Khiladi era begins: strikes gold with films like Sabse Bada Khiladi and Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi

    1997: Best supporting actor nomination for yet another YRF venture Dil To Pagal hai

    2000: Khiladi decides to jump to a new genre, stars in Priyadarshan's Hera Pheri

    2005: Wins an award for best performance in a comic role for Garam Masala

    2007: Launches his own production house Hariom Productions

    2007: His best year ever with four consecutive hits (Namastey London, Heyy Babyy, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Welcome) and no flops at the box office

    2008: Becomes Bollywood's highest paid actor and makes his small screen debut with Khatron Ke Khiladi - Fear Factor

    No matter how much you are loved or respected, the minute you lose focus, or make a small mistake, people will tear you apart



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