Akshaye Khanna (born 28 March 1975) is an Indian actor who primarily works in Hindi films. Born to actor Vinod Khanna, Khanna is a recipient of numerous accolades including two Filmfare Awards.[1] He made his acting debut in 1997 with the film Himalay Putra. His next release, J. P. Dutta's war drama Border (1997) emerged as a critical and commercial success, earning him the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut.[2]

Akshaye Khanna
Khanna in 2016
Born (1975-03-28) 28 March 1975 (age 49)
Years active1997–2012
WorksFull list
RelativesRahul Khanna (brother)
AwardsFull list

Khanna had further commercial successes in the romantic drama Taal (1999), the comedy drama Dil Chahta Hai (2001) which won him the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor, the romantic thriller Humraaz (2002), the comedies Hungama (2003) and Hulchul (2004), the murder mystery 36 China Town (2006), the action thriller Race (2008), and the heist comedy Tees Maar Khan (2010). He drew critical praise for his performances in the psychological thriller Deewangee (2002), the biographical drama Gandhi, My Father (2007) and the action thriller Aakrosh (2010).

Following a four-year hiatus in 2012, Khanna took on supporting roles in the action-comedy film Dishoom (2016) and as an investigative cop in two 2017 thrillers, Mom and Ittefaq. Khanna received renewed acclaim for portraying a defence lawyer in the legal drama Section 375 (2019) and a cop in the crime thriller Drishyam 2 (2022), which emerged as his highest-grossing release.[3]

Early life and family edit

Khanna was born on 28 March 1975[1][4][5] to actor and politician Vinod Khanna and his wife Geetanjali Taleyarkhan.[6] Khanna's father was a renowned actor of Hindi cinema, who died in 2017,[7] while his mother was born into a Parsi family of lawyers and businessmen, she died in 2018.[8] Actor Rahul Khanna is his elder brother.[9]

Khanna attended Bombay International School, Babulnath. He then did his 11th & 12th from Lawrence School, Lovedale, Ooty.[10] In an interview, he said that he was better at sports than studies.[11][12]

Career edit

Early struggles and breakthrough (1997–1999) edit

Khanna made his acting debut with Pankaj Parashar's romantic drama Himalay Putra (1997), co-starring his father Vinod, Hema Malini, Satish Shah, Johny Lever, Danny Denzongpa, and Amrish Puri.[13] His performance earned him a Screen Award for Best Male Debut, but the film underperformed at the box office despite mostly positive reviews.[14]

Later that year, Khanna starred in J. P. Dutta's war drama Border alongside Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty and Jackie Shroff. Set during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the film was about the events of the Battle of Longewala and saw Khanna play the real-life role of Dharamvir Singh Bhan.[15] The film generated positive reviews, becoming the second highest-grossing Bollywood film of 1997. Border won him Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut.[16] News18 noted, "Akshay Khanna excels in a role that was not only multilayered but also asked him to show the mood transitions with facial gestures only."[17]

Khanna's final release of 1997 was the romance Mohabbat, in which he starred alongside Madhuri Dixit. The film received negative critical reception and was commercially unsuccessful.[18] The following year, Khanna starred opposite Jyothika in Priyadarshan's romantic drama Doli Saja Ke Rakhna (1998), in which he portrayed a rich person.[19] Rediff.com stated, "Akshaye produces a good performance again. He's not a conventional looker but still appears charming."[20] In the same year, Khanna starred opposite Urmila Matondkar in Raj N. Sippy's drama Kudrat.[21]

Khanna's first release of 1999 came opposite Aishwarya Rai in Rishi Kapoor's directorial debut—the musical romance Aa Ab Laut Chalen.[22] It was a below average in India but performed well at the overseas.[23] His next film appearance was in Shrikant Sharma's romance Laawaris opposite Manisha Koirala. The film received positive reviews, but fared poorly at the box office.

Khanna next starred opposite Aishwarya Rai in Subhash Ghai's musical romantic drama Taal, in which he played Manav Mehta. The film was highly anticipated by critics and proved to be the fourth highest-earning feature film of 1999, becoming his first commercial success since Border.[24] Rediff.com wrote, "Akshaye is his usual self. Here he is endearing as a young and besotted lover who won't take no for an answer."[25] Khanna's final film that year was Lateef Binnu's star-crossed romance Dahek in which he featured opposite Sonali Bendre as a Hindu boy who falls in love with a Muslim girl. The film proved to be a box office disappointment.[26]

Commercial success and acclaim (2001–2008) edit

In 2000 Khanna took a hiatus from acting, and returned in 2001 in Farhan Akhtar's coming-of-age comedy-drama Dil Chahta Hai (2001) alongside Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Dimple Kapadia. Khanna featured as one of the three friends named Siddharth Sinha, a quiet and reticent boy.[27][28] It generated highly positive reviews, with critical acclaim, and emerged as a major commercial success. Dil Chahta Hai won seven Filmfare Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Khanna.[29] Bollywood Hungama noted, "Akshaye Khanna conveys a lot through his expressions and that's where he triumphs. An actor par excellence, he essays this complex character with flourish. Rediff.com wrote, "With the character's depth, Akshaye uses his voice and expression to optimum effect. He's a surprise. A pleasant one."[30]

Abbas–Mustan's romantic thriller Humraaz (2002), co-starring Ameesha Patel, was Khanna's next film release. He played the main antagonist Karan Malhotra, a convincing con-artist.[31] It proved to be a major commercial success, and Khanna's performance drew critical praise. He won the IIFA Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role. Idlebrain stated, "Akshaye Khanna excels in his villainous role."[32] That year, he also starred as a lawyer in Anees Bazmee's thriller Deewangee alongside Urmila Matondkar, a financial failure for which he was nominated for the Screen Award for Best Actor.[33] Planet Bollywood wrote, "Akshaye Khanna is the highlight of the film! Despite being saddled with what is conventionally the second lead, he manages to rise above all his co-stars and the clichés."[34]

Khanna in 2006

In 2003, Khanna starred as an electronic salesman in Priyadarshan's romantic comedy Hungama, co-starring Rimi Sen. The feature became a box office hit with earnings of 202 million (US$2.5 million) despite a mixed critical reception.[35] He next reunited with J. P. Dutta to film LOC Kargil, a war drama based on the events of the Kargil War fought between India and Pakistan. Khanna played the real-life character of Balwan Singh, an Indian army officer who is a part of the war alongside Preeti Jhangiani.[36][37]

Khanna's first release of 2004 was Milan Luthria's action thriller Deewaar, in which he played Gaurav Kaul, the son of an Indian army officer who sets out to find his missing father. Co-starring Amitabh Bachchan and Amrita Rao, it received critical acclaim but failed to fare well at the box office.[38] In the same year, Khanna reteamed with Priyadarshan in the romantic comedy Hulchul, in which he was paired opposite Kareena Kapoor. The film proved to be a box-office hit.[39] India Today wrote, "Khanna, one of the most underrated actors in Bollywood, keep the film moving with bang-on performances."[40]

After an absence in 2005, Khanna appeared in three films in 2006 — the first of which was Satish Kaushik's comedy-drama Shaadi Se Pehle, co-starring Ayesha Takia and Mallika Sherawat.[41] Khanna's next role was in 36 China Town, a murder-mystery comedy co-starring Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor. The film featured him as a police officer, and proved to be a financial success with earnings of over 369 million (US$4.6 million) worldwide.[42] Khanna's final film release that year was Dharmesh Darshan's romantic comedy Aap Ki Khatir alongside Priyanka Chopra. It proved to be one of the year's biggest flops.[43][44]

In 2007, Khanna acted in Nikkhil Advani's ensemble drama Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love, a romantic comedy, where he was featured opposite Ayesha Takia.[45] The film received mixed reviews from critics and emerged as a major commercial disappointment.[46] Rajeev Masand noted, "Akshaye Khanna as the groom-to-be who gets cold feet at the eleventh hour delivers a commendable performance."[47] His next was Abbas–Mustan's love-saga Naqaab, in which he starred alongside Urvashi Sharma. The feature received positive reviews from audiences but turned out to be an average grosser.

Khanna then took a leading role in Feroz Abbas Khan's Gandhi, My Father. The feature explores the relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his eldest son Harilal Gandhi.[48] The film underperformed at the box office, but was positively received by critics. Hindustan Times noted, "Khanna is absolutely inspired and gives the complex part all his conviction and intelligence. His breakdown scenes are especially heart-wrenching."[49] In his final release of that year, Khanna teamed with Anil Mehta for the dance film Aaja Nachle, co-starring Madhuri Dixit, which underperformed at the box office.[50]

Khanna's performance in the Abbas–Mustan-directed the 2008 action thriller Race, marked a turning point in his career. He starred alongside Katrina Kaif and Bipasha Basu. He played the main antagonist Rajiv Singh, an alcoholic person.[51] The film became one of the highest-grossing films of that year with over 1 billion (US$13 million), becoming Khanna's highest-grossing release to that point, and earned him Best Performance in a Negative Role awards at IIFA and Screen. Bollywood Hungama noted, "Akshaye is so perfect. To carry off a difficult character like this is a Herculean task and the supremely talented actor handles it with aplomb." Rajeev Masand wrote, "Akshaye Khanna delivers an amateurish performance by hamming through his scenes."[52][53] He then reunited with Priyadarshan in the comedy Mere Baap Pehle Aap, co-starring Paresh Rawal and Genelia D'Souza.[54]

Setbacks and sabbatical (2009–2015) edit

Khanna's only release in 2009 was Neeraj Vora's romantic comedy Shortkut, in which he starred alongside Amrita Rao, playing the character of Shekhar, an assistant director. The following year, he featured in three commercial or critical failures — the first of which was Priyadarshan's action thriller Aakrosh. The film featured Khanna as a CBI officer.[55] He next appeared in Anees Bazmee's comedy No Problem, co-starring Kangana Ranaut.[56] His final film of that year was Tees Maar Khan, a slapstick comedy co-starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. Khanna's role was that of a popular but greedy actor. The film was a semi-hit at the box office.[57] Rediff.com stated, "Akshaye Khanna handles this hysterical character with such control and conviction; you can't help but admire his gusto despite the foolhardiness of it all."[58]

In 2012, Khanna starred in Gali Gali Chor Hai, an ensemble romantic comedy directed by Rumi Jaffrey, co-starring Shriya Saran and Mugdha Godse. It received mixed to negative reviews from critics and proved to be a major financial failure. Khanna then took a long sabbatical of four years from film acting.[59][60]

Comeback and success (2016–present) edit

A still of Khanna from a photoshoot in 2022.

Khanna made his comeback to Bollywood in 2016 with the action cop comedy Dishoom, playing the role of the main antagonist Wagah, a bookie who targets a top batsman. The feature received mixed reviews from critics, but emerged successful, earning over 1.20 billion (US$15 million) worldwide.[61] Firstpost wrote, "Akshaye Khanna manages to lend notable touches to his part, but remains a victim of an under-written role."[62]

Ravi Udayawar's crime thriller Mom was Khanna's first release of 2017, co-starring with Sridevi, he received critical appreciation for his performance as Matthew, a CBI officer.[63] With a global revenue of over 1.75 billion (US$22 million), it emerged as a financial success. Mumbai Mirror wrote, "Akshaye Khanna as the intuitive crime branch inspector sticks to his lopsided expressions and is unobjectionable."[64][65] Later that year, he starred as an investigative cop in Abhay Chopra's murder-mystery Ittefaq. Co-starring Sonakshi Sinha and Sidharth Malhotra, it proved to be an average grosser.[66] India Today noted, "Akshaye Khanna is the star of the film. Whether it's his no-nonsense demeanour or smart-aleck one-liners, Akshaye is a delight to watch on screen."[67]

Khanna had two films in 2019. He played Sanjay Baru, Indian policy analyst in The Accidental Prime Minister. It was a moderate success.[68] The Times of India stated, "Khanna ensures there's never a dull moment. Often talking directly into the camera, Khanna is quick to strike a chord with the audience, also playing the narrator."[69] He next starred as the defence lawyer in Section 375 alongside Richa Chadda. His performance gained him a nomination for Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.[70][71] The film was declared average at the box office. News18 noted, "Akshaye Khanna brings a wily charm to his role as the defence lawyer. The film gives him some of the best lines and the grandstanding moments, and he makes a meal of it." Hindustan Times wrote, "Khanna impresses with his intense and gritty performance in every frame, though he could have worked a bit more on his flat facial expressions."[72][73]

His only release in 2020, was Sab Kushal Mangal.[74] Scroll.in wrote, "Khanna's Babu enlivens the movie whenever he appears, which isn't as often as it needed to be, and his absence is sorely felt."[75] In 2021, Khanna, played NSG officer in State of Siege: Temple Attack.[76] NDTV noted, "Akshaye Khanna is doubtless a talented actor. One sees flashes of his class all through the film. But he is trapped in a script that has little room for vivid character development."[77]

Khanna's much delayed film Love You Hamesha, became his first film of 2022, co-starring Sonali Bendre.[78][79] He then played a police officer in Drishyam 2. The film emerged as a critical and commercial success with Khanna receiving praise for his performance in the film.[80] Bollywood Hungama noted, "Akshaye Khanna is a great addition to the franchise. He is a scene-stealer thanks to his characterization and performance."[81] While, News18 wrote, "Akshaye Khanna is at his usual best. He shines in every scene and leaves behind a big impression. Khanna as usual is the scene stealer."[82]

Khanna will next appear in the series — Legacy and Murderbot.[83][84]

Off-screen work and media image edit

Khanna at the script reading session of Gandhi, My Father.

Komal Panchal of Indian Express termed him the "most nuanced, subtle actor" and noted, "Akshaye is someone who doesn't force himself onto his characters, but becomes one with every character he portrays on-screen."[85] Rohini Iyer of Rediff.com stated, "Akshaye has the knack of coming up with one powerhouse performance after another."[86] Khaleej Times's Khalid Mohamed noted, "From being a reluctant actor to being more forthcoming - the formidably talented Akshaye Khanna has turned the wheel."[33] Roshmila Bhattacharya of Mumbai Mirror praised the actor for being "very punctual".[87] V S Srinivasan of Rediff.com termed Khanna as the "star of the future", after his film Border's release.[88] Rajeev Masand termed him to be "one of Bollywood's most reclusive actors".[89]

Critics noted that the film Dil Chahta Hai marked a major turning point for Khanna. Sneha Bengani of Firstpost termed his role to be "written and performed with much care and control". She added that the role would have been different "without Akshaye Khanna's able performance".[90] Aakriti Anand of Filmfare feels that his "performance in the film is the one that put him on the map."[91] Following his portrayal of a variety of characters in Humraaz, Deewangee (both 2002), Hungama (2003), Gandhi, My Father (2007), Race (2008) and Drishyam 2 (2022), Khanna was noted for his versatility.[4][5] In an interview with Nirtika Pandita of The Asian Age, Khanna termed himself to be "a director's actor". He further added that he likes to keep "his life private and stays away from social life".[92] The New Indian Express named Khanna's performance in Drishyam 2 among the best of the year 2022.[93]

Members of the Indian film industry have often praised Khanna. Shah Rukh Khan said, "I've always been extremely fond of Akshaye and his acting abilities. I'm a big fan of his work. There's a strange mystique about him that reflects in his acting."[94] Kareena Kapoor admitted to have a "huge crush" on the actor.[95] His Section 375 co-star Richa Chadda termed him an "underrated actor" and said, "I have admired Akshaye Khanna's work in offbeat films like Gandhi, My Father and the cult film Dil Chahta Hai. I am really delighted that I can team up with him. He is brilliant, so underrated and intelligent."[96] Khanna has participated in several concert tours. His first concert tour, "Magnificent Five", was in 1999 in which he performed alongside actors Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukerji and Twinkle Khanna.[97][98] In 2006, he provided voice-over in the unplugged version of the title song of his film Aap Ki Khatir.[99]

Filmography edit

Awards and nominations edit

Khanna is a recipient of two Filmfare AwardsBest Male Debut for Border and Best Supporting Actor for Dil Chahta Hai.[100]

See also edit

References edit

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