I don’t know if Akshay Kumar remembers that evening. I was doing the rounds of Nataraj Studio when I saw a handsome young man wandering around with what looked like a portfolio normally carried by strugglers when they make their rounds even today. He came closer to me and stopped where the renowned filmmaker Pramod Chakravarty had his office. He looked lost till I went up to him and asked him if I could help him in any way.
He said he was looking for “Chakkida” and he did not even know how “Chakkida” looked . He said he was trying to be an actor after working as an assistant to the glamour photographer Jayesh Seth. He had left most of his photographs with filmmakers who mostly said , “good pictures, leave some of them here and we will call you when we need you”.But none of them had called. He said he was taking a last chance by leaving the last photographs with “Chakkida”. I told him “Chakkida” had left for the day and moreover he was no longer interested in making films. The young man seemed to be desperate but also determined. He asked me if he could leave his photographs with someone who was close to “Chakkida”. I called on an old man who was working with “Chakkida” ever since he was a young man and I told the aspiring actor to leave his photographs with the man and he would surely show them to “Chakkida” the first thing in the morning…..
The next morning “Chakkida” arrived at 11 am sharp even though he did not have any specific work. His experienced eyes fell on the photographs on his table and he immediately put them into his brief case without having a look at them. That same evening , he took the photographs of the young man and first showed them his wife Laxmi and then to the entire family down to the security man and the cook and the gardener and they all loved the photographs and were unanimous in saying that the boy was better than Kumar Gaurav and Sunny Deol and that reaction made “Chakkida” change his mind and he sent for the young man whose name was Rajiv Bhatia and by one more evening Rajiv Bhatia was Akshay Kumar and the leading man of “Chakkida’s” come back film which was later to be called Akshay Kumar. He was teamed up with Karishma Kapoor who was also making her debut and the film was launched. There were ups and downs during the making because “Chakkida” was making a film after more than a decade, but the film was completed. Akshay Kumar had become popular even before the release of “Deedar” with a film called “Saugandh” which was released first and Karishma too had her first release in “Prem Qaidi” made by D. Rama Naidu…..
Akshay was now on his way up and was the hero of several action films , the most popular and successful being the “Khiladi” series and the first time he was recognized as a good actor was in “ Ye Dillagi” made by Yashraj Films and then in “ Dil To Pagal Hai” directed by Yash Chopra.
It marked the beginning of a new life for him and filmmakers , critics and the masses took a great liking for him. He kept rising and shining as an actor, specially in the films made by Neeraj Pandey. He stood tall when he played Commander Rustom in a film of the same name and “Airlift” won all the major awards for the best actor including the National Award which made him an actor to respect. The one time chef had come such a long way.
It was after he won the National Award and in keeping with his image as Padmashri Akshay Kumar,he realized his responsibility towards society and did a film about a national problem and a cause dear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi called “Toilet Ek Prem Katha” which was about the need for more toilets in the country. The film which had Akshay in a role no other star would with a barge pole not only was a grand success but brought Akshay a reputation he could never have dreamt of…
And even as he is basking in the glory of “Toilet- Ek Prem Katha” , R-Balki has thrown another challenge in his rise as an actor with yet another unusual role in “Padman”. The film is inspired from the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Tamil Nadu . It is all about the use of sanitary pads for women and how the character played by Akshay brings about a social revolution. The film’s director , R-Balki has not stopped singing the praises of Akshay’s performance and how it will be a landmark in his career and show how films can bring about winds of change in society.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Technology has gone on record to name “Toilet Ek Prem Katha”.
What will be the reaction of people in power like Bill Gates and the common man at whom the film is aimed at ? Will Akshay take up any more delicate challenges and be the face of the actor of tomorrow , an actor who will drive away the fear of failure when thinking about acting making a difference to society and the New India which is the dream of our progressive Prime Minister who is all praise for this new avatar of Akshay Kumar