‘NOTH­ING CAN TAINT THIS DAY FOR ME’

Re­ceiv­ing the Na­tional Film Award for Best Actor from the Pres­i­dent felt ‘al­most un­real’, says Ak­shay Kumar

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Sonal Kalra sonal.kalra@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

Ak­shay Kumar re­ceived the Na­tional Film Award for Best Actor on Wed­nes­day evening, from the Pres­i­dent of In­dia, Pranab Mukher­jee. The mo­ment set aside over 26 years of tri­als and tribu­la­tions that he may have faced in the Hindi film in­dus­try.

Not­with­stand­ing the huge box-of­fice suc­cess that most of the 49-year-old actor’s 135 films have seen, the ab­sence of recog­ni­tion in the form of awards nagged some­where. “Not any­more,” says a tri­umphant Ak­shay, mo­ments af­ter re­ceiv­ing In­dian cinema’s most cov­eted hon­our at Delhi’s Vi­gyan Bhawan.

Dressed in In­dian at­tire — a band­hgala by de­signer Man­ish Mal­ho­tra — for the oc­ca­sion, Ak­shay was ac­com­pa­nied by a very proud spouse, au­thor Twin­kle Khanna, and their 14-year-old son Aarav, who got as much at­ten­tion as his award-win­ner dad.

“To fi­nally take my last few steps to­wards the Pres­i­dent of In­dia to re­ceive my Na­tional Award felt al­most un­real,” says Ak­shay. “I’ve never felt so light and so hum­bled at the same time. When one works day in and day out, as I do, some­thing like this isn’t just an hon­our, it’s a mo­ment in time where ev­ery­thing makes sense. No mat­ter how hard the jour­ney may have been, to stand here now, in front of my fam­ily, is the cherry on this almighty cake we call life.”

The an­nounce­ment of the award last month was fol­lowed by much brouhaha on so­cial me­dia over Ak­shay’s de­served­ness for it. Es­pe­cially when his films Rus­tom and Air­lift were pre­ferred by the jury over the pop­u­lar favourite, Aamir Khan-star­rer Dan­gal, and the ac­claimed Ali­garh, star­ring Manoj Ba­j­payee.

Did the crit­i­cism mar his proud mo­ment in any way? “Never,” he replies em­phat­i­cally. “Noth­ing can taint this mo­ment. Our coun­try and its peo­ple de­serve their voice and their opin­ion. Just like I know I de­serve this award. I’ve never felt more proud of my ef­forts than I do to­day. No amount of cy­ber bash­ing will ever change this day for me. In fact, it has been quite en­ter­tain­ing lis­ten­ing to peo­ple get their knick­ers in such a twist about some­thing over which I had no con­trol.”

He is quick to add, “But that’s also the power of your true fans. They will al­ways want their own Idol to be hon­oured the most. I will never dis­re­spect the love peo­ple have for their favourite star. Whether they are with me or against me, I’m happy with what I’ve got and how I’ve got here.”

Apart from his films, Ak­shay has, of late, hit the head­lines for lend­ing his voice to a range of so­cial causes. We ask if there’s a cause that’s closer to his heart than the oth­ers. “Ev­ery cause is ex­tremely close to me; other­wise, I wouldn’t be car­ing for it in the way I do,” he replies. “In my eyes, the whole idea of be­com­ing fa­mous and suc­cess­ful was that one day, with the power I’ve cre­ated by do­ing my job well, I’d be giv­ing back in as many ways as pos­si­ble.”

The philoso­pher in Ak­shay sud­denly takes over with a glint in his eye. He says, “I’ve be­lieved that God has given me so much knowing that I’d do all I could, to do good for the peo­ple. If one has a voice, it should be heard. If one has good in­ten­tions, one should do what­ever it takes to act upon them.

“If one has the power to change un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances, then one should fight to the very end to change them. I have all this and more. I feel it’s my des­tiny to give back to those whom my jour­ney can in­spire. Be­cause I never for­get my hum­ble be­gin­nings. I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber I am a Bha­tia be­fore I be­came a Kumar!”

Our coun­try and its peo­ple de­serve their voice and their opin­ion. Just like I know I de­serve this award. I’ve never felt more proud of my ef­forts than I do to­day AK­SHAY KUMAR, ACTOR

PHOTO: RAAJESSH KASHYAP/HT

PHOTO: TWIT­TER/ AKSHAYKUMAR

Ak­shay Kumar (above) shared this photo of him­self (right) with wife Twin­kle and son Aarav be­fore go­ing to the awards night

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