October 18, 2014: Akshaye Khanna Film Fest, part I: Introducing Chin and Hair

The FilmiGoris differ on their opinion of Akshaye Khanna, with Jenny continually trying to convince Julie of his swoonworthiness and Julie refusing to see him as someone other than an awkward, dimple-chinned hairpiece (although they both loved him in 1997’s Border and Julie loved his over-the-top performance as an Oscar-hungry actor in 2010’s Tees Maar Khan, which Jenny has not seen because it stars her “allergy” Akshay Kumar—another divisive actor in the FilmiGoris’ world).  So Jenny has challenged Julie to watch three previously unviewed Akshaye movies of her choice and cultivate an appreciation.

Julie:  Mohabbat (“Love,” 1997) starts a run of early films with Akshaye as the handsome hero—and I grudgingly admit that he really is handsome here, with his chiseled jaw, cleft chin and (in contrast to later years) well-behaved hair.  Actually, the pool scene kinda grossed me out with all the hair…

In the story, Rohit (Akshaye Khanna) rescues the young, wealthy industrialist Gaurav (Sanjay Kapoor) from a gang attack by beating up the gang leader.  The two strike up a bromance, with Gaurav offering Rohit a job in his company and the merry Rohit serving to unclench Gaurav’s somewhat stodgy nature.  Unbeknownst to each other, both are in love with Gaurav’s sister’s best friend Shweta (Madhuri Dixit), an aspiring young singer/dancer.

 

Gaurav’s move is to secretly support her career (yeah, that will get her to notice him), while Rohit sweeps her off her feet with drama, fun and romance.   For her part, Shweta treats Gaurav like an acquaintance (gee, wonder why?) but is completely infatuated with Rohit (duh), whom she agrees to marry.   Her inattention to Gaurav doesn’t keep him from fantasizing, though.

 

It’s only a matter of time before Gaurav learns (coincidentally, moments before he plans to reveal to her that he is her secret benefactor) that Shweta the one to whom his best friend is engaged.  Recognizing the depth of their feelings and wanting them both to be happy, Gaurav simply walks away rather than confront them.

The very same evening that Gaurav decides to back off, the gang finds Rohit and attacks him, stabbing him in the stomach and throwing him off a precipice right in front of Shweta.  Gaurav feels guilty, Shweta loses her voice with the shock, and Gaurav’s sister, learning of Gaurav’s feelings for Shweta, suggests their engagement to cheer up Shweta and make her brother happy. Shweta agrees to marry Gaurav and there is hope that she is finally getting over Rohit, although she still hasn’t spoken.  Trouble soon comes in the form of a handsome car mechanic named Tony Braganza (Akshaye Khanna), a Rohit lookalike whom Gaurav hires to try and shock Shweta back into speaking…but will the ruse actually work?  and why is Gaurav suddenly getting dizzy spells?

Madhuri and Akshaye are rarely paired on film and it is easy to see why.  There’s just no chemistry between them despite her fancy dancing and his good hair and smoldering glances.  And his supposedly “melting” glance left me cold—reminded me of a hurt puppy, and not in a good way.

However, the film is still fun to watch with its more or less even balance between comedy, romance and drama, and between Madhuri’s talent and Akshaye’s rather manic youth, the songs are energetically performed (if slightly generic).

 

The last third of the film is, unfortunately, so dramatic that it’s hilarious…and one of Shweta’s costumes in Gaurav’s dream-sequence song will make you giggle uncontrollably. Still, if you come across it, give it a try.  It’s available free on YouTube, with subtitles.

 

Verdict on Akshaye:  So-so.  Not as good a performance as in Border.  Fun to watch him dance, though.

Tune in later in the week for the next film in the mini-festival, Aa Ab Laut Chalen (“Come, Let’s Go Back,” 1999).

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9 Comments

  1. I rather think Akshaye can be adorable! I especially liked him in this song from Bollywood Hollywood. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=j2uN5Jeblf4

  2. And Border is one of my favorite films, especially one of my all favorite war films.

  3. Well, I’m glad you’re giving him a chance, Jules…and the weakest one first. I never said that Mohabbat was a classic, just that it was his first big film, and that he was pretty adorable in it, and looked great, and held his own with Madhuri in the dance numbers. No, not a classical dancer, by any means, but she didn’t blow him off the screen, as is the case with many of her filmi heroes in their dance numbers together.

    And I feel I must disagree with you about “no chemistry”…even given the storm scene before the song “Aisa Jaadu Kiya”? Come on…you can’t mean those smoldering gazes as puppydog-like? I remember thinking when I first saw it…”I can’t believe it at all…meeting a strange man in a dark barn…she should be running in terror…but wait…a bit like a romance cover come to life, but sheesh…he’s so hot! and so, soaked! Good look for him…okay, I’ll buy it…where do I buy it?”

    I hope you like Aa Ab Laut Chalen…a piece of campy fun. Can’t touch Border for poignancy, or Taal for picturesqueness, but it’s enjoyable.

  4. OK–I will grant you that ONE SCENE, where he did look totally hot and the chemistry was great. ONE SCENE. Sorry, but the rest of their time together was not nearly that hot; in fact, she seemed a bit absentminded, like her attention was wandering. I will also grant you that the first time we see Tony Braganza–Mr. Bad Boy with the 24-hour stubble, gold chain and V-neck at the perfect level, not too much chest hair (or chest), and snarly attitude–that was pretty sexy too. But that’s it–and she’s nowhere around.

    I know these aren’t classic Akshaye films–just ones I haven’t seen–and a couple of early ones too. But wasn’t Border like his 2nd film ever? (we’ll discuss later who came up with the plan to make him into a romantic hero)

  5. So… I’ve watched Mohabbat (Jenny stopped by on my blog and recommended it for Akshaye :D) and I have to say… not my kind of movie 😉
    It’s been a while since I’ve watched a typical 90s Bollywood romance and I’ve forgotten many of the things I hate about them *sigh* But I actually also forgot the fun bits in the 90s romance thing – they used to do so much more ridiculous fighting scenes (Akshaye does some really nice side kicks in the film ;)) And then there’s the obligatory melodramatic scene where the hero gets beat up for his love, which somehow really appeals to me, even though they’re rather silly. But then I do have a soft spot for that kind of melodrama.

    Still, I’m in such a big Akshaye Khanna phase at the moment that I promptly went on to watch Kudrat the next day (the film is just as terrible for similar reasons).

    And I have to say, there is a certain appeal in the 90s style Akshaye, although I’m not convinced that his hair makes up for how bad the movies can be. I also think he’s grown a lot as an actor over the years and a lot of the later stuff does seem to be more interesting and better quality. After about 2005 even if the movie isn’t that great, his performances don’t seem to drop below a certain standard (and the movies do seem to have interesting premises, even if ultimately they don’t always work out that great).

    In terms of Akshaye Khanna recommendations, I’d like to give a shout out to Aakrosh (2010) – I don’t think it’s been reviewed here, so not sure if either of you have seen it. It’s a thriller about honour killings and I think it’s a pretty interesting watch regardless of Akshaye (though he’s really good in it IMO).
    That said, we do seem to have rather different tastes on the whole, so not sure I’m reliable as a source of recommendations 😉
    I also join in with Julie – Akshaye’s performance in Tees Maar Khan is so awesome, especially the interview scene and the scene where he’s offered the film. I actually had to pause the DVD after the interview one cause I was laughing so hard I couldn’t watch the movie. It’s odd seeing him do something quite that hammy for one thing, but I think it’s even odder to see anybody do something so so hammy and yet do it so earnestly as well. I totally believed he really wanted the oscar that much when he started shouting “I want an oscar”, which is why it was so hilarious.
    But I think that’s actually one of the things I most like about Akshaye – there is something very earnest and honest about him on screen. I find that very satisfying to watch, especially when the emotions he’s portraying are somehow inappropriate, taboo or otherwise unusual. And after seeing some 90s stuff I’ve decided I really like seeing him get beaten up on film 😉 Unlike some other actors I’ve seen, he does the getting beat up thing extremely well 😉 And on that note, I really want to see Doli Saja Ke Rakhna in which he apparently gets beaten up and bullied a lot. I especially want to see it since seeing this very bizarre scene on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azFs_gZ0WQs

    • Now I will have to go back on your site and check what I actually wrote about Mohabbat…I couldn’t have given it an all out thumbs up, as it’s a fairly weak film, but I think he’s gorgeous in it, especially in the scene in the storm, in the rain…sigh…and I think he holds his own in the dance numbers with Madhuri better than one would expect from a relative newcomer. If I led you astray, Monika, I’m sorry. I thought they had a nice quiet chemistry together, and think it’s a shame they haven’t worked together more…nothing since Ajaa Nachle.

      I do agree that he’s only gotten better as an actor as his hair has receded. DCH is still one of my favorite “mature Akshaye” performances. I’ll probably never know about Tees Mar Khan, as the appearance of the “other” Akshay, the one without the all-important final “e”, cancels out my willingness to watch it. Sad, but true.

      As to Doli Saja Ke Rakhna, I have hated that film with a passion since I first saw it, early in the search for complete Akshaye viewing, and he almost lost me there. If you do watch it, let me know your opinion.

  6. You recommended Mohabbat for the dreamy Akshaye factor which is fair enough 🙂 And I would have eventually seen that one anyway as it’s Akshaye + Madhuri and Madhuri is amongst my favourite Bollywood actresses, so I’m not unhappy I saw it or anything. I just don’t think I’ll be coming back to it, that’s all 😉

    I’m yet to see Aaja Nachle actually, but there seems to be a cheap rental option on youtube, so hopefully if it doesn’t come via DVD rental, then I’ll just watch it there eventually 🙂

    As for Akshaye in Mohabbat, I agree that he does seem to hold his own in the dance scenes much better than most heroes (or heroines) would with Madhuri. Incidentally, has Madhuri ever had a dance number with Hrithik? Cause I really want to see that!
    I generally like Akshaye in dancing scenes. I’m particularly impressed with some of his later movies though. In the later stuff he actually seems to change his body language somewhat depending on the character he’s playing even while he’s dancing, which is really cool and kind of impressive. It’s particularly obvious in Salaam-E-Ishq, where he totally carries through the body language of the character into the dance number. And it’s not like he’s just posing in that one, he’s actually doing the dance moves themselves with a body language different to his own 🙂

    As for the Akshaye-Madhuri chemistry – in Mohabbat I’m just not seeing it *sigh* I think I agree with Julie on that one – it’s mainly that one scene where the chemistry really works, otherwise not so much.
    But then, from what I’ve seen so far, I generally don’t think Akshaye’s romantic chemistry with his heroines is that great. So far I’ve liked him with Priyanka (for me it was great even in 36 China Town where she does a cameo and in Salaam-E-Ishq where they’re romancing other people and barely have any scenes together) and with Aishwarya. Besides those too ladies, I’m just not feeling it.
    On that note, I’ve always thought SRK is pretty amazing in this. It’s actually really rare to see him without good romantic chemistry (I’ve seen it happen, but it’s really just a handful of films). I remember him saying that he could have a scene with a cow and make it look like chemistry and I actually believe him! (I also really want to see him do that)

    Dil Chachta Hai is a great performance and the part was perfect for him 🙂 I don’t think I’ve seen anybody ever contest that, even if they don’t like Akshaye on the whole.
    As for Tees Maar Khan, in all honesty, I kind of think that for any Akshaye Khanna fan it would be worth to rent out just to see the Akshaye with an e scenes, even if that means fast-forwarding through the rest of the movie 😉
    Gandhi, My Father is an interesting one. I’ve not seen it in a while and I remember finding him a bit too over the top in it, but I also remember it as a very bold sort of performance. And he got quite a lot of acclaim for that.

    As for Doli Saja Ke Rakhna, I think I’m going to have some trouble finding a copy of the film with English subtitles, but I’m sure I’ll see it eventually. It seems to provoke drastic reactions, either people love it or they hate it. I found the two or so scenes I found on youtube rather intriguing and better than most scenes I remember from Mohabbat or Kudrat, so I kind of want to give it a go.

  7. Unfortunately, no, Hrithik and Madhuri have never danced in a film together (and wouldn’t THAT be awesome?!), but if you check YouTube there are some cute scenes of them dancing impromptu on a dance reality TV show. Here’s my favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9fJ_elx0eg

    I’m also glad to find someone else who doesn’t think TMK is a total waste of celluloid, at least on the Akshaye front!

    Thanks for reading and I promise we will post more soon.

  8. I’m dutifully reporting that yesterday I finally watched Doli Saja Ke Rakhna 😉 And I really enjoyed it hehe
    So what is it that has made you hate it with a passion, Jenny? 🙂
    There’s a few things about it that really resonated with me for some reason (hopefully I’ll write at length about it in a blog post at some point) and Akshaye is really sweet in it.


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