Ram Kamal Mukherjee
Akshay Kumar was never considered worthy of any award by leading magazines like Filmfare or Screen, because of the kind of cinema he would choose. And he never believed in “chaplusi” so he lost out on those bronze babes for years!
Considering the fact that Filmfare remains the oldest and most popular award in mainstream media, his films would always get nominated, but would never make it to the finishing line of the race.
Initially, that used to bother Akshay, and he had expressed his displeasure many-a-times. But recently (including an episode of Koffee With Karan) he has started to make a joke out of it, and call it Mrs Funnybones effect or just maturity that he doesn’t take anything seriously now.
So, I am not too sure if he would take even National Award so seriously!
I tried reaching out to him (after hearing about his National Award haul), but he was busy shooting for his wife’s home production, Padman. He doesn’t celebrate success, because he has realized that you are as good as your last film.
Needless to say that Akshay Kumar is proving himself as a better performer in his second innings, which started from Special Chhabis.
He tried to break free from commercial films and do off beat cinema in the past, but that didn’t work in his favour either. I remember a lanky legged actor smriked saying, “Ab Filmfare nahin milta hai toh, National Award lene ki koshish kar rahe hai!”
I smiled at his remark. There is no harm in aiming for the best, and trust me when I say this, I won’t be surprised to see him winning an Oscar too!
So, Am I gushing over Rajeev Bhatia aka Akshay? Certainly not. I had a tough time dealing with him as Stardust editor.
Considering the fact that it was only Stardust that recognised him as an actor and would confer awards, almost every year since past 15 years. Yet, he didn’t change his attitude towards life.
A former colleague of a reputed magazine had once informed me that they stopped giving him nomination after he had asked the organizers to pay him his fee for stage act at the award show.
I remember how he stood outside at Sunny Super Sound, at the special screening of Rustom organized by his producers Arjun and Prerna from KriArj Entertainments.
Immediately after the show when electronic media wanted to take his byte, he looked at me. Then he pointed out at me and told the waiting media, “Inse poochiye, yeh samikshak hai jo filmon ki kismet likhte hai!” (Ask him, it’s critics like him who makes or breaks the fortune of a movie).
Like always, I ignored his sarcasm and walked away from the theatre. But I knew this was a differnt Akshay.
Next day, I woke up with a sms from a “private number” asking about my honest opinion on Rustom. I replied. “This time he will make it for the National Awards!”
That was purely instinct, but then I didn’t realise that unknowingly Akshay inspired me to become a soothsayer!
(Ram Kamal Mukherjee is a former Editor and Film Critic. He is now a nationally recognised biographer and producer)