Akshay Kumar (born Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia on September 9, 1967) is an Indian film actor, producer and martial artist who has appeared in over a hundred Hindi films. He has been nominated for several Filmfare Awards and has won twice.
Kumar was born in Amritsar, Punjab. From a very young age, he was recognised as a performer, particularly as a dancer. Kumar was raised in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk neighbourhood before his family moved to Mumbai. In Mumbai, he lived in Koliwada, which was another Punjabi dominated area. He studied at Don Bosco School and then Guru Nanak Khalsa College (King’s Circle).
After having obtained a black belt in Taekwondo while in India, he studied martial arts in Bangkok, Thailand, where he learned Muay Thai, and worked as a chef and waiter. He then came back to Mumbai, where he started teaching martial arts. One of his students happened to be a photographer and recommended him to try modeling. After a couple of months of modeling, Kumar was offered a lead role by producer Pramod Chakravarthy for the movie Deedar.
Kumar primarily starred in action films and was particularly known for his appearances in the “Khiladi series”, which included Khiladi (1992), Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995), Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996), Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi (1997), International Khiladi (1999), and Khiladi 420(2000). He also starred in other action films such as Mohra(1994), Elaan (1994), Suhaag (1994), Sapoot (1996), Keemat(1998), Angaaray (1998) and Sangharsh (1999).
Later he also gained fame for his drama, romance and comic roles. He started becoming known for his performances in romance films like Yeh Dillagi (1994), Dhadkan (2000), Jaan-E-Mann (2006) and Namastey London (2007) as well as drama films such as Ek Rishtaa (2001), Waqt: The Race Against Time(2005) and Patiala House (2011) . His comic performances in comedy films such as Hera Pheri (2000), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi(2004), Garam Masala (2005), Heyy Babyy (2007), Singh Is Kinng (2008), Housefull (2010), Desi Boyz (2011) and Housefull 2 (2012) met with acclaim. He has, thus, established himself as one of the leading actors in Hindi cinema.
2008 marked Kumar’s television debut as the host of the Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi. In 2009, Kumar founded the Hari Om Entertainment production company. In 2008, the University of Windsor conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Law on Kumar for his contribution to Indian cinema. The following year he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. In 2011, Asian Film Awards honored Kumar for his outstanding achievements in cinema.
Akshay Kumar is married to ex-actor Twinkle Khanna, who herself is the daughter of Bollywood biggies – the late Rajesh Khanna, and Dimple Kapadia. They live in Mumbai and have two children together.