Akshay Kumar happens to be my favorite star-actor in hindsight. During his early years on celluloid , he seemed bland, if not repulsive...running around trees with Raveena Tandons and Shilpa Shettys or flinging roundhouse punches at Amrish Puris and Gulshan Grovers. Even his serialized Khiladi success was not enough to make him a star to reckon with - he was only headed to fade away as an also-ran of Bollywood. But his 40-plus success is a story of great determination that hardly seemed destined.
Somewhere, I don't know exactly when, he made his mark as a great comedian star capable of using the nuances of the film medium to great effect, the way Govinda carved his own niche. Perhaps, it took a Priyadarshan to unearth the seemingly non-actor's value proposition.
His current status is an inspiration to all those who don't stand a chance in the normal scheme of things. He is so refreshingly different from the celebrity circus....No nauseatingly pompous six-pack claims, no narcissist marketing gimmickry, no narrow minded strategies of angry old men....Akshay's mass appeal is truly class apart.
His films are no great shakes in terms of innovation - but he surely makes them look innovative. He is accused of stealing the show in every frame -but rarely has the audience complained in the bitter tone that his co-stars wail in. And the stars who are used to rocking center-stage with their plastic "Chak de" smiles can never ever match the rustic appeal of this aging star.
Singh is King was labeled a no-brainer by the critics and self-proclaimed film pundits but it turned out to be quite an entertaining film. The presence of the prolific Om Puri made it even more enduring. Staking no claims to intellectual supremacy or socially relevant purposes, it stood out as a thoroughly entertaining product - far more sincere than the Sajjanpurs of the world.
Precisely why, I chose to watch Chandni Chowk to China in a theatre closer home - a costly proposition in these times of recession. The disappointment was more than grave - the film is neither a fantasy, nor a social drama - the creative team behind the curtains has made a perfect mess of a potentially powerful script - Akshay does his usual bit but the lack of a theme leaves him gasping for breath.
The best frame in the film is the Kungfu training regime made special by the guy who plays the role of Akshay's Guru. Kailash Kher's background score makes perfect company for those electrifying moments when Akshay moves from strength to strength to become a master himself - entertaining stuff.
The rest of the scenes are a drag - there are times when even the usually noisy front rows of the hall sat in dismay - not making any sense of the going-ons. Deepika Padukone offers great visual delight but has a long way to go in her histrionics - she can learn a bit more on comic timing from her illustrious co-star of the movie.
If this film was meant to be Akshay's life story in reels, it's such a poor tribute.
It's high time Akshay turns his attention to some meaning in his meaty roles. With his new-found style, authority and success, he's in a far better position to take risks on offbeat subjects.
Else, why lutaye karod to watch a tod marod dil ka chor?