Not to be confused with Akshaye Khanna. Akshay Kumar (aka Mr Khiladi, born Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia, 9 September 1967) is an Indian film actor. He has appeared in over 100 Hindi and Canadian films. He is not as big a name as Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, or Aamir Khan, but is considered one of the most prominent stars in the tier right below them.
He came from a middle-class Indian family but seems to have been something of a wild child-stealing watches for kicks as a teenager, and striking out on his own as a young man by going to Bangkok to wait tables and learn martial arts. When he returned to Mumbai in his early twenties, he taught martial arts until one of his students encouraged him to go into modeling, which in turn got him into the movies. During the 90s, Kumar was mostly seen as the action hero of Bollywood, starring in hit action films such as Khiladi (1992), Mohra (1994) and Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995), and being particularly known for his "Khiladi Series". However, he was also recognised for his performances in romantic films like Yeh Dillagi (1994) and Dhadkan (2000) as well as dramatic films such as Ek Rishtaa (2001).
In 2002, he won his first Filmfare Award in the Best Villain category, for his performance in Ajnabee (2001). Willing to play with his image, Kumar later ventured mostly into comedy films. His comic performances in films such as Hera Pheri (2000), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Garam Masala (2005) and Jaan-E-Mann (2006) met with critical acclaim. His success further rose in 2007, when he starred in four consecutive commercial hits (Namastey London, Welcome, Heyy Babyy and Bhool Bhulaiyaa). In 2008, the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Law on Kumar in recognition of his contribution to Indian cinema. That same year, he starred in the box-office smash Singh Is Kinng. In 2009, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. His other films include the comedies Housefull and Housefull 2, the thriller 8x10 Tasveer, the So Bad, It's Good kungfu flick Chandni Chowk To China and the box-office hit Kambakkht Ishq (which has cameos from Sylvester Stallone, Denise Richards and Brandon Routh).
He went through a career slump around 2009-2011, but seems to be on the comeback trail, both starring in and producing movies. Although not from a filmmaking dynasty himself, he is married to Twinkle Khanna, daughter of his screen idol Rajesh Khanna, and the couple has two children.
- The Casanova: Often played these in the movies. In the 90s, the media basically accused him of having affairs with almost any woman he co-starred with or appeared in a photo-shoot with; his willingness to do movies that were rather bawdy by Bollywood standards may have contributed to his image. After allegations of an affair with four-time co-star Priyanka Chopra hit the media, his wife reportedly got on his case in a major way, and today he claims to be a...
- Henpecked Husband: His feisty wife gives him fashion advice, produces some of his movies, supposedly has veto rights on his leading ladies, and makes sure he rests up whenever he is injured doing stunt work.
- Le Parkour: this is one of his favorite hobbies and can be seen both in a few of his movies and in a series of commercials he did for the soda pop brand Thums Up. The rest of Bollywood is only slowly getting interested in this type of action scene.
- Romance on the Set: pick a movie he made before his marriage, and chances are you can find gossip linking him to the female lead of that movie.
- The Prankster: although fairly professional otherwise, he loves to play pranks on the set. Also has Deadpan Snarker tendencies, though not as pronounced as some other Bollywood regulars.
- Those Two Actors: he and Saif Ali Khan were this for a while in the 90s (see Main Khiladi Tu Anari), and there was a period in the 00s where he and frequent leading lady Katrina Kaif were doing this. Today, he is most frequently seen teaming up with up-and-coming actress Sonakshi Sinha.
- Unnecessary Combat Roll: A common component of his action scenes.
- Workaholic: his time management skills and willingness to appear in ensemble movies allow him to show up in four or five films a year, while most male Bollywood stars put out one or two movies per year. Somehow also finds time to stay in shape, sponsor and oversee an annual martial arts tournament, appear in zillions of print ads and dozens of TV commercials, and manage his real estate investments. Also manages to spend time with his son.