I’ve often wondered about the term “irrational fondness”, especially in relation to blog posts. Have you ever seen anyone express a rational fondness in a blog post? It’s always, “I love this guy but I can’t explain it, and I know it sounds like I’m a couple of cards short of a deck when I admit to this, but this is me and if I can’t express it in a blog where else am I gonna do it, huh?” Or something along those lines in shorter sentences.
Anyway, what I originally meant to say before I got sidetracked was that I love Akshaye Khanna. There are a lot of (okay, a few) talented actors out there, but Akshaye has some peculiar talents. A talent for appearing insufferably smug, for instance. For a long time, I don’t think anyone knew what to do with Akshaye. Nor did he, for that matter. And I kept watching his movies and thinking: this guy isn’t half bad, but somebody please find something suitable for him to do. Taal is a perfect example. Half the time, he looked like he really wanted to do the Anil Kapoor role but got stuck with the lovesick puppy-dog routine instead.
Then two things happened. One was Dil Chahta Hai, where he finally seemed to let his hair down (metaphorically, of course — his hair had let him down a long time ago) and throw himself into a role. The other was Abbas-Mustan. The director duo were among the first to realize that there was much to be gained from letting Akshaye give full rein to his smugness. Now, when he appears on screen, I smile automatically. Not too many actors have managed that.
So, in celebration of Khanna Week, here are five moments from Akshaye’s career that stand out for me:
- That song with Madhuri Dixit in black leather, coz it was the first time he got paired with her and we kept getting flashbacks to the Dayavan kissing scene and going “Ewwww, dude!”
- The “I’m the bad guy” declaration to Madhuri’s daughter in Aaja Nachle. I think that’s where the daughter decides that he’s the one for her mom: anyone who can deliver a line like that with such charm can’t be all bad. MD takes some time, mostly because her lips are still bruised from her encounter with VK. As a companion piece, there’s that scene right at the end of Salaam-E-Ishq where he wins Ayesha Takia back with a heartfelt speech that ends with “Or something like that.”
- His hemming and hawing in Luck By Chance when offered the role that Hrithik walked out of. I think he takes so long simply to see if the Rishi Kapoor character would realize, all by his lonesome, the sheer absurdity of casting him in a role meant for Hrithik.
- Virtually every scene in Race that features Akshaye — there really isn’t anything to complain about in this movie. Who the eff asked you to go in expecting Casablanca anyway?
- And finally, my favourite of the lot: The scene in DCH where he apologizes to Dimple for having hurt her unintentionally. But adds that he loves her and isn’t sorry about that. The moments above are Akshaye doing what only he can do so bloody well. This is Akshaye doing what so many others do, and proving that he can do it as well as them.