There is very little that we have come to know about Akshaye Khanna. Shy, reclusive but very sincere, Akshaye Khanna best personifies a phrase we often loosely throw around: “character actor.”
With a brooding intensity about him and deep eyes (which emote as much as they conceal from the public) Akshaye Khanna is strangely aloof away from the movie sets. No one knows what he does and how he passes time. But once in front of the camera, he’s a clever hawk who does his part with bright sincerity and outright honesty.
At a time where Bollywood is fast becoming synonymous with high-volume entertainment, Akshaye is respected for being simple and humble. Here’s a celebrity who lacks the loudness and shenanigans that most base their careers on.
And while Akshaye’s career may not boast of too many movies, it’s filled with fine career choices resonating with rich characters and different emotions.
The following five roles explain why Akshaye is one of India’s best.
An out-and-out laugh riot, Hungama was Priyadarshan’s brilliant comedy of errors. As the owner of an electronic store, Jeetu, Akshaye fell for the charms of his pretty sales employee who he mistook to be the daughter of a wealthy businessman.
Even though Akshaye’s role was centered on contributing to a goofy comedy, he teamed up with the girl to be her boy on an exciting, rebellious voyage, doing the part of a carefree romantic without much ado.
He brought out vivid shades to what could’ve been a linear character.
2. Gali Gali Chor Hai
One of the least appreciated movies of Akshaye’s career was also a study in how well an actor can manage comedy and romance with aplomb.
As Bharat, an ordinary banker with nothing more than five quid in his wallet, a constantly talking father and a snobbish wife, Akshaye heroically battled the central theme of this film – corruption – with him being the oddball caught in a soup.
The funny tale of a man being implicated by a false charge, Akshaye also warmed up to the charms of a pretty tenant while displaying characteristic intensity in his battles with the police. Using his telling silence to convey his pain, he played a unglamorous part with a seasoned campaigner’s will.
Gandhi My Father
It could be said, this was the most complex Bollywood role written in the last decade-and-a-half. As Hiralal Gandhi, the son of India’s celebrated icon of freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi, Akshaye landed himself in shoes of a personality that was as complex and mysterious as a Rubik’s cube.
Gandhi’s son was known to be a moody, volatile, unsure, complicated man who donned multiple hats, trying many challenges in life to become somebody respected and successful, but ended up as an utter failure.
Akshaye Khanna didn’t act like Hiralal. He became Hiralal. His sincerity shined like a polished diamond in the film – echoing the tiny triumphs but myriad failures of a man who was not even strangely at odds with Gandhi himself, but became a victim of bleak choices and a somewhat confused personality.
The ever-reclusive Akshaye never turned up to accept the national award the film garnered in an illustrious ceremony held in Delhi.
The bookie and con-man who kidnaps India’s best cricketer, right ahead of a crucial cricketing encounter against arch-rivals, Pakistan, Akshaye as Wagah fired seven kinds of smoke in this character with shades of grey.
He was charming, cunning, displayed a daring and guile in equal measure, and was relentless as the perfect antidote to the famous heroes of this thriller flick, John Abraham and Varun Dhawan.
If not for anything else, the film will always be remembered as Akshaye’s comeback wagon that brought him famously on the main-screen after a four-year hiatus from cinema.
5. Dil Chahta Hai
It will be remembered as the film that gave Indian cinema a brand new direction. It brought together three friends in suburban Mumbai at the backdrop of their graduation and the different paths the trio embark on.
Akshaye Khanna was Sid, the reticent but charming painter. In love with a woman several years older, Akshaye demonstrated a natural penchant to portray a complex role with great meaning and grace.
He was smiling, charming, utterly respectful, and introspective and used his deeply melancholic eyes to convey an intricate story that had it all- great laughs, unexpected challenges and grace under pressure.
Lead-In Image Courtesy of Venus Worldwide Entertainment
Another article in our Indian cinema series:
Are there other Indian movies you love? Contributor Dev Tyagi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org