Friday, August 31, 2007


Akshaye posing for Asian paints ad. I am trying to get the ad too but so far had no luck finding it on the net.

Sid or Akash?

Since Sid in Dil Chahta Hai became such an iconic character and Dil Chahta Hai itself remains such an important milestone in Akshaye's career, it's surprising to know that Akshaye was not initially considered for Sid at all but for Akash. Sid was to be played by Hrithik Roshan. Hrithik turned it down and Farhan found Aamir willing to do the movie but only the part of Akash. So, he adjusted the screenplay and convinced Akshaye to do the movie and play Sid, a young man who falls in love with an older woman, a subject taboo in mainstream Hindi cinema. The movie went on to become an iconic hit and revived Akshaye's career, though not in the same way as Saif's.

In a way, Dil Chahta Hai played the same role in Akshaye's life as The Philadelphia Story played in Katherine Hepburn's. Before The Philadelphia Story, Katherine was considered a cold and condescending star who was giving flop after flop and was even named box-office posion. Then The Philadelphia Story came out and it Katherine played a woman who is quite strong and yet vulnerable. Audiences were floored by this unexpected side of Hepburn and loved her all the more for it. The legend had begun.

The same goes for Akshaye too. Till DCH, Akshaye was labelled arrogant, an upper class snob who looked down upon the lower middle class Bollywood. Once the movie came out, there was a sea change in perception. From now, he was a reclusive star not an arrogant one, whose South Mumbai breeding set him apart in a class of his own, a charming but not talkative man. In short, it humanised the star.

When the movie came out, I remember asking friends who they thought acted the best in the movie. Many said Saif or Aamir because Sid's character was not universally popular with the masses ( though Sid is the firm favorite on the internet). Still, one friend paused to consider and replied that Akshaye may in the end be the best actor because everyone was convinced he was just like Sid in real life ! The real reason why many people didn't consider him the best of the trio because he was being himself and that'a not a hard thing to do, right?

A few weeks ago, I told another bunch that Akshaye, in fact, was not even considered for Sid's role and he was first chosen for Akash. They immediately shook their heads and said he'd not be able to do it. I think that's a leftover impression of how good he was being Sid, he managed to convince many that he'd be totally out of place playing Akash. Curious because, in real life, he's probably more like Akash than Sid. Which is probably why Farhan wanted him for the role. I think, the character in part, may have even been based on Akshaye.

I was remined of that when I saw the recent Karan Johar's show. In the rapid fire round, Karan asked Akshaye his opinion on Rakhi Sawant's comments, " Jo bhagawan nahin de saktha hain, woh doctor detha hain,"( A doctor gives what even the God can't.) Pat came the reply, " She's proved it," and Karan burst out laughing. Now, this was quite funny, particularly in a rapid fire round, but probably not a very nice thing to say.

Sid would never have said it but it was right up the street for Akash. Aamir was only playing Akash, albeit playing well. But Akshaye is Akash.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I love it when he wears ties! Anyway, he's working hard on being intense, something he's been doing a lot lately, I've noticed. Doesn't suit him all that well.

Young achiever

As part of the Lead India initiative, actor Akshaye Khanna, a young achiever with bright future, looks back at some defining moments in his life. I believe failure sometimes teaches you more than success. And a leader is one who can learn from his mistakes and move on to bigger, better things. I was 16 and in class X at Bombay International School when I contested the elections for our house captain, which was a prestigious occasion for all students. Being elected a house captain was considered a huge success, a stamp that you had made it big. Everybody at home knew what it meant to me and went all out to ensure I was in high spirits on my big day. As a part of the "campaign," all "candidates" made their own badges and posters. It was a basic process, with everybody in the house voting for the candidate they liked. I was an average student, who took active interest in athletics. I was quite the Mr Popular both among the students and teachers in school. Which is why it came as a shock when I got to know I had lost the election by less than 10 votes. That incident was my first brush with leadership — just that my moment of glory brushed past me. Though I did not dwell on that ‘defeat' (if you may call it so) for long, I did realise that both success and failure are part of the game. Today, I know it's not wise to dwell on failures or mistakes. Being an actor, in my case, any failure or success is extremely visible to a whole nation of movie-watchers. The only way to deal with such situations is to get the best out of them and leave the rest. In my profession, brooding over mistakes can only affect your creativity and productivity. Even when things don't go my way, I have learnt to move on. I don't do things because people are watching me. I believe today's youth does not like to emulate somebody. They are smart and sharp and like to take their own decisions, based on their personal experience.

I know this was published days ago but I missed it somehow. It's interesting to think our favorite star was once a school kid with stories just like ours. He's one of us, I guess.

Charity premiere in Antwerp

Gandhi My Father has a special charity premiere in Belgium (Antwerp). Anil Kapoor has many reasons to celebrate this year; be it Gandhi My Father’s success or his daughter’s launch in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya. However, a special charity premiere organized by his close friend, Dilip Mehta certainly has given him a new high.The premiere will be followed by the auction of a painting, of Gandhi and Harilal by Satish Gurja which is said to be worth Rs. 20 lakhs. Along with Anil Kapoor, the cast and crew of the Gandhi My Father which includes Akshaye Khanna, Darshan Jariwala and director Feroz Abbas Khan will also be present for the occasion. A part of the proceeds generated from the auction will be donated to Plan India, a child-centered humanitarian development organization, for which Anil Kapoor is the brand ambassador, and the rest will go to The Antwerp Giants in Belgium.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Akshaye to endors Dinesh Mills

Bollywood actor Akshaye Khanna will soon be seen endorsing the suiting brands for Dinesh Mills Ltd.

The actor signed up as the brand ambassador for the company, for a period of two-and-a-half years. Other than films and media, Dinesh Mills would also be extensively using their new brand ambassador in below-the-line activities such as posters and other promotional material.
70-year old Dinesh Mills has a turnover of around Rs150 crore, and has a product line up comprising worsted suiting and blends, with exports to several European countries.

Great ! The contract is for two and half years which means it won't be just blink n miss appearance like it was Asian Paints. Hopefully, this partnership will get him a better wardrobe. It will keep him in the public eye which can only be good. Can't wait for the promotional material to roll out!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Akshaye answers some serious questions

What does it take to make a leader? Is it true that India has progressed in spite of, rather than because of, its leaders? And what kind of leaders does India really need? Questions like that affect all of us and are way too important to be left to politicians alone. And so, when The Times of India decided to hold a panel discussion on the subject as part of the Lead India initiative, we made sure to invite as wide-ranging a group as possible. We hoped to get a vibrant, provocative discussion, with lots of differing viewpoints being expressed. We got all that, and lots more.

As sound and light checks were conducted, the panelists trooped in. And the bytes began even before the cameras started rolling. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, former CEO of BPL Mobile and now a Rajya Sabha MP, held forth on one of his pet themes: "Why can't we have a common minimum programme on governance which cuts across parties? If a disparate coalition can agree on a common agenda, why can't all other parties as well?" Next in was classical dancer and activist Mallika Sarabhai, taking a few hours off from a whirlwind series of performances to raise awareness about the disadvantaged among students. "The 30% of India that's enjoying the benefits of liberalisation has to realise there's a 70% that isn't. And if we don't pay attention to that 70%, it could have disastrous consequences," she warned.

Popping flashbulbs marked the arrival of suave actor Akshaye Khanna, exuding a cool charm in a shirt and tie combined with blue jeans. Still basking in the critical acclaim he's received for his role in Gandhi My Father, Akshaye was raring to go, and it soon became obvious he'd done his homework thoroughly. BJP leader Arun Jaitley came in sporting a sky blue kurta. As the only full-time neta among the panelists, he was warned to expect a rough time. Jaitley smiled and took it all in good humour, declining to be provoked even as the other panelists blamed politicians for virtually everything under the sun. Rounding up the panel was Shankar Raghuraman, senior editor of The Times of India and ace number cruncher who frequently threw out stats to back up, or disprove arguments being trotted out by the other panelists. Do netas care for India? By this time, the panelists were seated and a hush descended on the hall. A reverse countdown was given from the control room and right on cue, Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami began proceedings. He first called upon Jaitley, who sprang to the defence of political veterans. "Our system of multiparty democracy has great merit, but it also has downsides. Electability is a huge factor, and in today's set-up, young politicians are thrown up in only two ways: either through caste politics or dynasty politics. This has to change. Besides, I've seen many young politicians who enter Parliament to huge media hype. Soon they become Page 3 regulars, and equally soon fade away. They seem to lack the ability to sustain themselves. A leader has to be credible and committed - and that's a quality seen only in those who have been in politics for years." Mallika Sarabhai was next up, and she made a simple but telling point. "We have to find good young people and groom them. We have to find a way to break the logjam that is politics today."

That was Arnab's cue to ask Akshaye if, as a thinking, urban young man, he would consider entering politics. "No, that's not my calling," he replied instantly. But he did have a point of view on the subject of leadership: "I believe a leader should put the country before self and I don't see too much of that happening." "That's not entirely true," countered Jaitley. “Politicians do have a commitment to the country. But each will act according to what he believes is the right thing for the country, and that will differ from person to person. I don't think it's right to question someone's patriotism just because he takes a different line from yours."

Akshaye, though, wasn't willing to concede the point. "I was watching Lok Sabha proceedings on TV and I saw MPs making a din in Parliament when the PM was trying to explain the nuclear deal with the US. No one was willing to hear him. No matter what you might believe, not hearing the PM speak cannot be good for the country." He got unanimous approval on that point, with Arnab declaring that while Akshaye might not be interested in entering politics, after hearing him speak many people might start wishing that he'd take the plunge!

Caste & corruption What would make good people enter politics? Chandrasekhar spoke up: "Even though not many youngsters are encouraged into roles of political prominence, there's no escaping the fact that politics does have an all-pervading impact on the country. To ensure the younger lot ventures into politics, we need to make the election process firmer and sharper. There has to be a sustained spotlight on the political agenda of our leaders. And I don't believe casteism and good leadership are mutually exclusive." Interjections followed quick and fast. Sarabhai observed: "The way you all are describing a leader as 'he' or 'him' speaks of a strong gender bias." Akshaye interrupted: "Look at Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Jayalalithaa, Sonia Gandhi. How can you say there's a gender bias? I'm totally with you when it comes to issues like female foeticide but it's not as if somebody is stopping women from being in politics." Shankar stepped in: "Why, then, do women account for less than 10% of India's MPs?" As the rest of the panel groped for an answer, he came up with his own explanation: "There's nothing new about casteism and gender bias in politics. They've both been around forever. It's just that earlier politics was dominated by the upper castes, so no one made a big issue about it. It's only now that the lower castes are playing a major role that people are talking of casteism. Similarly, gender was never a factor as long as women were taking a backseat. These and similar things have become 'issues' now because of the larger churning of events."

So what is the one thing that can be done to make an impact on the political leadership in the country, asked Arnab. "It might be nice to come up with a dramatic statement on TV, but nothing happens instantly," said Jaitley, speaking from the experience of long years within the system. Akshaye, young and impatient, wasn't willing to accept that. "We must ensure that those in public life are paid well. You cannot pay a cop or an IAS officer peanuts and then expect them to not be tempted to take bribes," he said. Chandrasekhar, in keeping with his business background, spoke of the importance of institution-building. "All our institutions have been politicised. The new political class must bear in mind that one of our biggest challenges is to build institutions - be it independent regulators or a depoliticised police force." "The only thing that can make an impact is throwing 80% of those in Parliament into the sea," said Mallika bluntly. "What ideology or integrity are we talking about? There's hardly anybody who hasn't been touched by corruption. India must be the only democracy where neta after neta and babu after babu has been publicly exposed as corrupt but not one has been stripped of his ill-gotten crores."

Never missing a beat, Jaitley replied: "I'm not a pessimist. I believe in the resilience of India. We've seen some huge crises and come out of them. We've grown - and will continue growing - at a fast pace." However, he did concede, "Parties need to marry pragmatic politics with ideals of governance." Leaders for the future How can we shape future leaders, asked Arnab. Again, all the panelists scrambled to put across their point of view. "Education for all will go a long way," said Akshaye. "But today's education itself is geared towards teaching our kids to strive for high-paying jobs," retorted Mallika. "When you're creating that sort of money-minded generation, how do you expect education to help?" "We need to provide our future leaders with something to look forward to," said Chandrasekhar. "There's obviously something about politics that's not inspiring youngsters to come forth. That has to change. Moreover, fragmented politics is the biggest threat to growth," he added. Jaitley stressed that there's no way a country can progress without healthy politics. "The challenge is to make everybody benefit," finished Shankar. As the youngest panel member, Akshay got the privilege of making a wishlist for a better India. "Start with education. Change the mindset of the top brass. And embrace a new ideology," he rattled off. Both Jaitley and Chandrasekhar seconded that, making for a degree of agreement that was rare during the discussion. "The media should focus on real leaders instead of putrid heroes," offered Mallika. "Every citizen in every state must be part of the political process," chimed in Shankar, bringing the lively discussion to an end. As the cameras were turned off, most of the people present - including TV crew, refreshment boys and audience members - promptly made a dash for... Akshaye. The actor, so intense on screen, cheerfully signed autographs, posed for group pictures and flashed his dimples as the other panelists quietly withdrew. Sure, being an achiever is hugely important for any leader. But in India, a touch of glamour certainly seems to help with the public ratings...

We want to see those pics! It's great to see Akshaye taking on some of the biggest leaders in the country. Great going, Akshaye!

Camera Chameleon

I love the topmost pic where is looks so brash. Simply sexy. The cover is good too. When you see it first time you might get stuck with that beard but take a look again, it's really good.
The other pics are fascinating because they show an Akshaye acquiring gravitas and solidity in his face (which was simply angelic till now). Still, the suit killed them. The top pics are cool though.
Thank you, whoever you are, who brought these pcis to my notice. Thanks for reading my blog and contributing to it. Why don't you make an id an start posting as a guest here. Rather than being jsut anonymous.
All pics courtesy Man's World.

The Reinvention of Akshaye Khanna

It is any young actor's dream role. Indeed, if producer Anil Kapoor had been younger, he might have cast himself as Mahatma Gandhi's son, Harilal. But the opportunity to play the role of a lifetime fell, instead, into Akshaye Khanna's lap. The graph of his character in Feroz Abbas Khan's film Gandhi My Father travels from age 18 to 60; from being Gandhi's favoured child to converting to Islam; becoming an alcoholic and dying penniless on the streets. It is, says Khanna, "the most satisfying creative journey for an actor and definitely the most important film of my career."

Seated in Anil Kapoor's Juhu office, Khanna looks pensively at the posters of the movie pasted around the room while measuring his responses. "As an actor, you are constantly looking for platforms to showcase your work, and the film you get to be a part of is that platform. The enthusiasm for this film in particular has reached epic proportions. I have never played a character older than my years and it was quite tough at times. The support of the period setting, look, costumes and prosthetics helped because if you look the part then half the battle is won," he says between sips of tea. "It's the kind of role I hope and pray I get again."
Feroz's writing is poetry. With that kind of material an actor would have to work really hard to screw it up."It's no secret that Khanna was not the only choice for the part of Harilal. Director Khan has said that he auditioned several actors but Kapoor was keen on Khanna. "Yes, I believe I was not the only choice. But I was Anil's first choice and Feroz needed a great deal of convincing, as he was wary of working with stars on this film. He was unsure about whether any mainstream actor could get into the skin of the character. I don't know what finally persuaded him to cast me." The answer to that comes from Khan himself. "Many good actors would step in front of the camera and it just wouldn't work. But Akshaye had magnetism. Once we began production we had to undertake a process of 'de-Akshaye-isation', in order to find the character. In just two days he became Harilal. His discipline and performance was a revelation," says the Khan.

Khanna rose to the task, clearing his calendar for 14 months and dedicating himself to Gandhi My Father. In terms of research and slipping into the khadi garb of Harilal, the actor first turned to the book Harilal: A Life by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal, which is the source material for the story. "Harilal was an unknown person, unlike his father who is iconic. So his physicality didn't prevail, unlike Mahatma Gandhi's body language. Darshan Jariwala had to work ten times harder than me to transform himself into Gandhi."

Khanna found Harilal's strength of character his most attractive quality. He says, "Imagine standing up to a man like Mahatma Gandhi, arguing your case and sticking by your convictions. Harilal did that. Here were two intelligent, strong-willed men who refused to compromise. Harilal may have gone wrong in many ways, but the idea was to portray him from a point of view of strength of character, to approach the story from a place of truth without being judgmental." Method acting and searching within his own experiences and relationship with father, Vinod Khanna, for triggers for this performance wasn't Khanna's style. "I know that in Hollywood, especially, they talk about going back in time and drawing from a period in their lives. I respect that, but I can't sit back, ponder, get to the point where my dog died, feel the emotion and then say 'okay, I am ready'. That makes me laugh. So no, for this film I have not drawn from my experiences," says Khanna. "It's very difficult for me to intellectualise acting because it's such a natural thing. Everybody acts in everyday life, everyone pretends. The difference is that in front of the camera it comes in concentrated bursts."

Acting, to him, is organic, easy and about being in the moment. Fiercely private he also keeps his personal and professional life entirely disconnected.Khanna is quick to point out that anyone taking sardonic pleasure and expecting controversy or an anti-Gandhi stance will be sorely disappointed. This film, he emphasises, is a commercial, mainstream pro-Gandhi film, which has received public support from members of the Gandhi family. "At our press conference in New Delhi, Tushar Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson) said he wished he had been more closely involved with his film. We live in a free country and a democracy because of Mahatma Gandhi and we are embracing that. The story is simply about a son caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. A son looking for bapu, but constantly confronting a Mahatma."

Kapoor and Khanna have been associates since Subhash Ghai's Taal, way back in 1999. Thereafter, they were co-stars in the 2007 release Salaam-E-Ishq and now, after Gandhi My Father, they reunite as producer-actor for a comedy titled Shortcut. Khanna is all praise for his co-star, producer and friend. "If Feroz is the seed for this film, Anil is the soil that the seed needs to grow. Anil was more than a producer on this film. This project required a certain sensitivity, maturity, mindset and 30 years of experience that only Anil could bring. It's a massive film and was conceived on a huge scale which required unwavering courage of one's convictions."Ask him if this film has changed his opinion of Mahatma Gandhi and the 32-year old says, "I have much greater respect for great leaders who made incredible sacrifices, not just by going to jail, but in terms of their families and broken relationships. They were willing to pay that price. How can you not feel a sense of gratitude? The freedom struggle is the background of our film, but in the foreground is what was going on behind the scenes. It's like turning 180 degrees." Khanna's father, actor and politician Vinod, his brother Rahul and his mother were among a select few to see the film months before its release. Their reaction, not surprisingly, was emotional and superlative. In fact, Vinod was said to be so affected that he hugged Anil Kapoor for a rather extended period of time. Tell Khanna that he is someone with the capacity to be equally passionate about every one of his releases - whether it is Shaadi Se Pehle, Aap Ki Khatir, Salaam-E-Ishq or Naqaab and he expresses surprise. Unfortunately, all these movies - his recent films - have failed to stir the box office, the latest disappointment being Abbas-Mustan's Naqaab. "I believe the audience is never wrong. The viewer goes into the theatre wanting to like the film but if he comes out feeling dissatisfied then we have failed to live up to expectations. Sometimes, it's poor promotion strategy which is unsuccessful in garnering an opening. On the flipside, a pathetic film can get a massive opening because of hype and then get slammed later." This is his tenth year as a leading man in Bollywood.

Khanna was welcomed into the industry and by audiences with anticipation and optimism when he made his debut in Himalay Putra. After all he was Vinod Khanna's son. JP Dutta's war film Border followed and critics applauded his performance. Then came a dull run with Doli Saja Ke Rakhna, Dahek, Kudrat and Aa Ab Laut Chalen until Taal raised his stock once more. Dil Chahta Hai, Humraaz, Hungama and Hulchul followed and Khanna became the darling of fans of Priyadarshan comedies and Abbas-Mustan thrillers. Assessing his decade as an actor, his hit and miss ratio is almost even, and superstardom continues to elude him. "I'm not happy with my hit-miss ratio at all," he says. "I can ask myself where I am going wrong as an actor and maybe the mistake I am making is in my choice of films. With time those choices will improve and come from a place of greater understanding, experience and maturity, as long as I don't lose enthusiasm. Ultimately I have limited control when creating a film."

Besides being extremely ambitious, Khanna leads a balanced life in terms of fitness and fun. He's a regular on South Mumbai squash courts and enjoys yoga, running and swimming. "The excess energy needs to go somewhere," he says. "Over the last few years I have started reading novels again. A good book is one of the blessings of life and literature can really enrich you," he adds. But there's another dream he harbours, even as he awaits that one film that can launch him into the galaxy of stars. "I want to take time out to get my private pilot's license. It's a three-month course." Ask Khanna to grade himself, to review these ten years and give himself a score and he says, after a pause, "The decade has been a mixed bag. It's a tough business to succeed in and tougher to achieve longevity. I'd like to have both success and longevity. I'd give myself 4/10. I'm not being modest. I think it's fair, plus it gives me the scope to improve." And on that elusive star status he says, "Actors alone cannot become stars. A movie makes you a star, like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge did for Shah Rukh Khan. It takes that one film."

Man's World India

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eye candy for the weekend

She looks good in pics, she reputedly acts well too. Haven't seen a movie of hers but she is high on my list. A beautiful pic of Tulip Joshi.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Akshaye on Aaj Tak

BTW, Akshaye appeared on Aaj Tak's Seedhi Baat. Wish we could get to see more of it too!

New movie

This is the second time Priyardarshan dropped a hint that he's making a movie with Akshaye Khanna. First, it was supposed to be an action movie. Now, it's a father-son emotional movie. It's good to see him sticking with Akshaye but till concrete details emerge take this with a pinch of salt.

From Priyadarshan's interview:

Does Paresh play the role of the superstitious uncle?Yes. In my next film for Shemaroo, he plays a hero of sorts. He told me, ‘You’ve given me an image in Hera Pheri and now I want you to break that image.’ So this next film with Akshaye Khanna and Paresh is a father-son emotional film.

No jing bang for Akshaye

Actor Akshaye Khanna is a shy person, and he has no qualms in admitting it. When we met up with him last, he seemed to be quite comfortable though, and spoke to us frankly about a lot of things under the sun. When asked of his 'shyness', he said, "I'm uncomfortable in crowded places. I prefer a quiet atmosphere. That is why I am more comfortable with one-on-one interviews vis-à-vis press conferences." Point noted! (Filmfare)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Akshaye in Big Brother?

After this huge craze over Shilpa Shetty in this year’s Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 4 are roaming around for another Bollywood contestent… this time a male hot bod.

And who could be hotter than Kareena Kapoor’s chocolate boyfriend Shahid? The producers now want to show the male side of Indians and are eying up from a huge list of B grade Bollywood actors. Top of the pile is Munnabhai’s side-kick Arshad Warsi. It has been rumoured that the actor’s humour is one of things about him that appeal to the producers. Other probables are Akshaye Khanna, Gulshan Grover, Sanjay Kapoor, Arbaaz Khan and hot bod Shahid Kapur.

The final list of 12 celebrities going into the house will be decided in December. The show will air in January 2008

Let me do the hyperventilating due a fan here. Akshaye in a list of B-Grade Bollywood actors?!!!!! I can't swear, which means somebody has been spared a tryst with painfully colorful language.

That said, Akshaye in Big Brother? The idea! Remember this is the show that runs in England. With his moody, monosyllabic answers he'll sure drive the poor producers nuts. It's quite funny to imagine! He'd never do it of course, but it's nice to imagine him locked up in a room with a dozen hot females. What'd he be up to, I'd sure like to know.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Akshaye's bio

This is such a fawning intro to AK that we had to publish it here. Thanks again to our commenters who do the legwork for us. From Bollyspice. com which also has some cool pics.

"I may be wrong but I think talent is in-born. Then there are those who work hard and become good actors with time and experience. I think I've got what it takes to be a decent actor. Plus, I work hard. But please, I'm not a brilliant actor or anything. I pass muster."~Akshaye Khanna Akshaye Khanna is one of Bollywood's most well-known and talented actors. He has an aura about him that literally jumps off the screen. Whether in just a special appearance or as a leading man, your eye is always drawn to him, and not only because he has a brooding sensuality. We thought with his new release Gandhi, My Father opening on Friday we would shine the spotlight on this amazing star. Akshaye Khanna was born in Mumbai in 1975 and comes from an acting family. He is the son of Bollywood star of yesteryear Vinod Khanna, and his brother Rahul is an actor, too. He went to school at Bombay International and then at Lovedale School in Ooty. Even at school he already had the acting bug, performing in many of the school's plays. Once Khanna left school, he decided to follow the dream he always had of being an actor. "I thought I could contribute, I could make a mark. I thought I could be good at what I do. And, most of all, I thought I would enjoy it. Being part of the film family, I had a little bit of experience about how the film industry functions. I knew the life, the profession, what it would be like. I liked it. I did not train much. A little bit of dance, fight, acting, just to get the feel of it, but nothing serious. With some people training would have helped but as far as my case goes I don't think any amount of training will make me a better actor. Acting is not something you can teach. It's life. When you are acting you are creating or recreating life. You have to have a flair for it and then that flair can be cultivated. But that will be mostly done by yourself. It's an individual kind of cultivation. It's internal, not external. I am my best trainer. You have to keep watching yourself and improving."

His debut role at the age of 22 was as Abhay in Himalayputra. For the film, which was produced by his father, he won the 1998 Screen Weekly Most Promising Newcomer - Male Award. Unfortunately the movie did not do well at the box office. About facing the camera for that first shot Khanna said, "It was great. Life began. I was always quite confident that I could do the job." Next came a defining role for Khanna in J.P Dutta's Border. To Khanna, playing this role was an emotional experience: "The role of Sgt. Dharamveer Singh in Border was far more powerful than any other role I have ever played." In an article about the star one reporter wrote, "With a stunning characterization of a sensitive soldier who is left dying on the border of Longewala, audiences would have this scene burned into their souls long after the film's run ended in theatres." For this film he was nominated for and won many awards including: Lux Zee Cine Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Filmfare Award for Best Newcomer Award. The film was a box-office success and firmly established Khanna as one of the finest actors in Bollywood.

After that success he was in several more movies including Doli Sajake Rakhna and Kudrat. They did not do so well, but in his next film Aa Ab Laut Chalen audiences loved him as Rohan Khanna. About his roles in these films, whether hit or flop, he said, "Being Vinod Khanna's son was enough to pile on the pressure. It was obvious that people were going to draw comparisons between me and my dad and I couldn't let them down. It is important to me to choose the right people to work with and, most importantly my role. All the films I've done so far, I've chosen on the basis of all these factors put together." He got rave reviews for his performance in Subhash Ghai's Taal; one stated "Akshaye demonstrates that he is one of the most sincere actors on the Hindi screen."

The film also starring Aishwarya Rai and Anil Kapoor was a hit with audiences. The year 2001 saw Akshaye in another tour de force role as Siddharth Sinha in Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai. He was nominated at several awards ceremonies including the Zee Cine Award and the International Film Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His outstanding performance won him the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor and a special Jury Award for Best Supporting Actor at the Screen Weekly Awards. He won critical acclaim as well with one review saying, "Akshaye Khanna stuns with another subtle and mature performance, and all one can ask is why he does not do more films. (If one had to single out a character and performance that makes the movie the best, Khanna's is it.)"

In 2002, he got to play "bad guy" Karan Malhotra in Humraaz. All applauded his performance and it earned him a nomination for Best Villain at the FilmFare awards and he won the IIFA's award for Best Villain. Also that year he was in Deewangee and he received a nomination for the Screen Weekly Award as Best Actor. Throughout his career, Akshaye has played an array of characters including the romantic hero, dramatic roles and comedy. His comedic talents were brought out in Hungama (2003) and Hulchul (2004) and they both were very well received. He had leading roles in Shaadi Se Pehle, 36 China Town and Aap Ki Khatir in 2006, but they did not do as well as expected at the box office. Earlier this year his performance stood out in Nikhil Advani's multi-starrer, Salaam-e-Ishq but that film also failed to charm audiences. Then he had Naqaab, just about a month back, directed by the well-known duo Abbas-Mustan. Taran Adarsh said about Akshaye's performance, "Naqaab belongs to Akshaye, who delivers yet another powerful performance. He's splendid, the real scene stealer, the soul of the enterprise."

Even though Akshaye delivered a great performance in the film, it failed to set fire in the box office as well. All this may change this coming Friday though. The highly anticipated film Gandhi, My Father will be hitting screens then. In this groundbreaking role, Khanna plays Gandhi's eldest son Harilal and presents the story of their relationship. Producer Anil Kapoor praises the actor saying, "He is born to play this role. You have to see it to believe it, the kind of work he has done." If word is to be believed, then we can expect to see one of the best performances of the year out of Akshaye Khanna in this film. It is all set to be a landmark film for him, and everyone is anticipating it greatly, since there is so much hype surrounding it. Akshaye's fortunes are definitely looking good with the release of this film. Also in the pipeline are the films Race, Shortcut and a special appearance in the Madhuri Dixit comeback film Aaja Nachley.

Some interesting facts:Nickname: Akshoo

Once was in a commercial for Godrej Cinethol.

In Bhai Bhai he was an uncredited dancer in the song 'Tera Naam Loonga'

He once said in an interview, "I want to be the editor of Filmfare magazine."
He is Bollywood's 'shatranj ke khilari' (player of chess). He loves chess so much that on both the sets of Naqaab and Race he was playing chess with the cast and crew.
For Aap Ki Khatir he is listed as a playback singer.
In his brother's film Bollywood/Hollywood (2002) he made a guest appearance as himself.
In Naqaab, he and Urvashi Shrama dance the Salsa, an extremely sensual dance: there needs to be chemistry and a comfort level between the dancers. Raju Khan choreographed the dance sequence and said that it was not difficult for him to train Khanna to get the steps right.

For his fans he has this message, "The most difficult thing to do in life is to do what your heart tells you. Be yourself, and do things the way you want to, always go where your heart leads you!"

We have to disagree with Akshaye Khanna when he says he is not a brilliant actor, because he is truly one of the most talented actors in Bollywood. His screen charisma is outstanding but he also is very natural so you do not think he is acting and that is a very hard thing to pull off. He is adored by fans (including this reporter) because of his talent, his mystery and his good looks. Since he is always striving to do more, learn more and be better at his craft we can only imagine that we have just seen the beginnings of excellence in this star. Reflecting on his decision to become an actor Khanna says, "And now when I think about it, it's the best decision I made. All I ever want to do is to act. A lot of people spend an entire lifetime in professions they don't really want to be in. At least I don't have such grief." We whole-heartedly applaud this fine actor and cannot wait to see his new movies and the ones in the years to come!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A very special friendship

Friendships in filmdom are frequently as filmy as they are flimsy. But Anil Kapoor and Akshaye Khanna seem to have formed a longer- lasting bond. Says Anil, "After the wonderful experience on Gandhi My Father if I had my way I'd cast Akshaye in all my films. I'm very very fond of him as an actor and as a friend."However 'friend' turned completely into 'actor'recently when the twosome came together for the first time since Subhash Ghai's Taal for Abbas-Mustan's Race. The spirit of one-upmanship was so high between the Anil and Akshaye that onlookers on sets thought the duo had fallen out with each other. Laughs Akshaye, "Yes, once the camera was switched on Anil and I were fiercely focussed on doing our best. And what's wrong with that? Race is a thriller. Anil and I had a ball working together as actors again after Subhash Ghai's Taal. Yes we were really in competition for Race. From 'start camera' to 'cut' we became co-stars. Once the camera was switched off we were comparing notes. Kaisa kya kiya….tu kaisa tha…main theek tha?? Yes I'm very competitive, in the sense that I want to do my best within the character I'm given to portray. So dies Anil." Laughs Akshaye. "That's how we are as co-stars. As far as Anil Kapoor The Producer goes, I've told him pointblank that he has to sign me for all his productions. We're already doing another project Shortcut which is a masala film. We're really charged about it. Anil wouldn't touch a project unless it enthuses him fully. Every seeed needs a specific nurturing. If my director Feroz Khan hadn't been nurtured by Anil Kapoor, Gandhi My Father wouldn't have been possible. Anil constantly nourished the project. He has given so much to the project. He was such a source of strength for all of us, specially the director. Being from a production family Anil Kapoor gave his all to this film." Akshaye wants to be as versatile as Anil. "Even today he can balance a Salaam-e-Ishq with No Entry. I'm aiming to be in that maneuvering space. I want people to give me the same opportunities. I can tell you one thing. Actors who are confined by images are very unhappy people."

Hope it remains that way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Annoying surprise

OK I admit this is quite annoying. Indiatimes has a small photofeature, " The actors who surprised us" and it mentions stalwarts like Vivek Oberoi in Shootout at Lokhandwala, Lara Dutta in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Katrina Kaif in Namaste London and that Channel V veejay whose name I forget. But not Akshaye!

(I was initially annoyed but while writing this piece, it occured to me that maybe Akshaye giving off a brilliant performance is not "surprising". People expect that and even complain that it's not brilliant enough!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The plaudits continue

"Mesmerizing performance by Akshaye Khanna " --

"Khanna is truly magnificent in his role. He imbues the different shades of his character with conviction. " Tonight, South Africa

"Akshaye Khanna as Harilal employs his trademark low-key acting style to amazing effect here, utterly convincing you when he conveys Harilal's crushing disappointments with his father or his utter desperation to make something of his increasingly unstable personal circumstances." kvltblog

"matched in intensity by Khanna’s performance as a man deperate to do what every son wants to do – measure up to his father – while increasingly aware that his particular circumstances render this impossible.
His efforts to come to terms with this, ranging from pathetic pleas for forgiveness to wilful acts of pique (such as converting to Islam and immediately making a public call for his parents to do the same) attain a truly tragic status, building to a moving climax." Eye for Film

"Akshaye Khanna as Harilal gives an applaudable performance and the vulnerability he gives his character is simply heartfelt. He portrays varied emotions of anger, resentment, love, guilt through various means like his outbursts, his silence, his eyes and his weaknesses." Bollywood Mantra

"Akshaye Khanna as Harilal skillfully embodies this forsakenness, desperation and hurt and he enacts his role with the conviction, madness and grief that afflicts this failed and tortured son of a charismatic leader." Tehelka

"Watch it for Akshaye Khanna's tour de force performance!" MTV

"Akshaye Khanna has successfully breathed life into the character of Harilal. He is extremely convincing and no matter what he enacts, perfection is evident. " ExpressIndia

OK. Some comments may have repeated. There are a couple more but these will have to do for now

Monday, August 13, 2007

More reviews

Here are some more nice reviews of Gandhi, My Father and Akshaye. And more links here. I am too tired today to post all the comments that were made about Akshaye, maybe tomorrow. BTW, I've been updating previous posts with more reviews. Have you noticed?

"Akshaye will surpass all the actors in India"

Narrating the incident Anil says, "When Akshaye and I were flying back from a Toronto show I narrated him a bit about Gandhi My Father and said I have a role in mind for him. A few days later, I thought why not pull a fast one on him?

I called him up and told Akshaye that I wanted him to play the role of Gandhi in the film. Akshay read the script and panicked. He thought I was mad to offer him the role of an old man who had a grown-up son. After that, he not only disappeared but started avoiding my calls!"Then what did Anil do? "I thought I had my share of fun, passed a message to Akshaye that I wanted him to play the role of Gandhi's son - Harilal Gandhi - and it was only then that he came on the line for me. He instantly agreed and has given his 100 per cent to the role. He has changed a lot since Taal - he's more committed but still doesn't know how good he is. He is only putting in 10 per cent of his potential. Once he puts in his all he will surpass all the actors in India today."Deserving actorAnil says Akshaye had to audition for the role as his director Feroze Khan wasn't convinced about Akshaye doing it. "Akshaye doesn't know but he actually had to audition for the role. We told him they were rehearsals. I wanted Akshaye for the role but Feroze was wary of working with stars and was upset with my decision. I told him I will take the responsibility and that he should trust my judgement. People want to see more of him but we should spend as much big money on his film as an Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan film. He wanted Akshaye to get the same treatment as the rest of the unit and not once did Akshaye complain. Even I travelled economy while flying. That's the kind of love we put in for the film."

Much of this was already posted on this blog but the part about the auditions is new. I don't want to post Feroz Khan's chat on as it's so full of typos it's almost unreadable but he does say that Akshaye deserves all the awards.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Saving thoughts

I am saving my thoughts for those long days when there won't be any Akshaye's movies or news and there will be nothing for us to do but to watch his old movies again and again!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Love it....

I love it when flame wars erupt on my blog!

I love it when finally some accountability is brought to Bollywood.

"I don't carry my roles home"

CRITICS ARE going ga ga over Akshaye Khanna's performance in Gandhi My Father as Mahatma Gandhi's little known son Harilal and he too is quite pleased with the outcome. But the actor denies taking help from his personal experiences to essay the role.

"I've never used my personal life to play any character. I read about actors digging into their experiences. I don't carry my roles home. Yes, scenes in 'Gandhi' have eaten into my soul," Akshaye said in an interview.

"Before I read the script, I didn't even know he existed! Of course, I was aware Gandhiji had a family. But I knew nothing about Harilal. So it was relatively easy for me to play him. I didn't have to copy someone people knew about."


Gandhi My Father was made under an oath of secrecy among the cast and crew?
It wasn't secrecy, just a low profile until we were ready to release. A film like Gandhi My Father isn't easy to make. And we haven't made a small art film —it is a big commercial film. It's important to plan a film's promotion properly, specially when it comes to Mahatma Gandhi, who's so much part of our lives even today. Now when we're finally allowed to talk, we feel we've been let out of jail.

You play Gandhi's son Harilal. Not much is known about him.

Before I read the script, I didn't even know he existed! Of course, I was aware Gandhiji had a family. But I knew nothing about Harilal. A very minuscule number of people know about him. So it was relatively easy for me to play Harilal. I didn't have to copy someone people knew about.

So how did you get a grip on the character?

I asked my director Feroz Abbas Khan how to play him. He gave me Harilal's biography by Chandulal Dalal. For me the research was in capturing the spirit of the man. Then I read letters that Harilal had exchanged with Bapu and Kasturba. That was pretty much it.

Do you see Gandhi's son as a dark character?

Not dark at all. I see him as the most courageous character I've ever played. For any person, even the son, to stand up to Gandhi required a tremendous amount of courage. The entire British Empire couldn't stand up to Gandhiji. Harilal could!

Did you delve into your own relationship with your father to play Gandhiji's son?

Let me say one thing. I've never used my personal life experience to play any character. I read about actors digging into their experiences. To date I've never done that. I look for the emotions in the moment, and then I let it go. I don't carry my roles home. Yes, scenes in Gandhi have eaten into my soul.

Did you get a lot of support from your co-stars?

Darshan Jariwala, Shefali Shah and Bhoomika Chawla were extremely relevant to my performance. Let me tell you Darshan had a thankless task. It's terrifying to play Gandhi, especially after Ben Kingsley. I wouldn't have been able to do it. In spite of the enormity of his burden, Darshan has carried Gandhi off with ease.

And Shefali as Kasturba?

Please do not take my words lightly when I say hers is the single greatest performance given by an Indian actress. I can write this in blood.

Have you told her this?

Yes I have. She's one of those rare actors with an inborn talent. Highly underused and underrated. She just needed to be given the right opportunity. I can't put words to her performance.

How do you rate your own performance?

Yes, this is one film where I'm immensely satisfied with my work. I feel happy about my work. Not that I've ever left any stone unturned. But there's a quality to the film that benefited my performance. Every actor has excelled.

Feroz Abbas Khan as a director?

He's such an intellectual. In one sentence I'd say he's aesthetically intellectual. Anil Kapoor said he had yet to meet a director as deep as Feroz. He has immense integrity and honesty. This is his screen debut but it looks like he has done 20 films before. Coming from theatre and being an actor himself, Feroz has a tremendous sense of performance. It'd be extremely interesting to see where Feroz goes after Gandhi.

You did two comedies Shaadi Se Pehle and Salaam-e-Ishq. Now you've done a very dramatic role in Gandhi.

I don't want to suffocate myself by playing the slotting game. I see myself as an actor who does his job.

Were you disappointed when Salaam-e-Ishq and Naqaab didn't work? Hugely. I feel there was a lot of negative attitude towards Salaam-e-Ishq. It was virtually targeted. But I feel Salaam-e-Ishq pushed the envelope. I adored the script and the film and I can work with Nikhil Advani any time of the day.

More plaudits flow

"Watch it for some sublime performances- Akshaye and Shefali....Akshaye Khanna reiterates his claim as a great actor who understands the nuances of the art and may therefore loose out in the race. Very studied and seasoned performance. One hopes to hear of him when the season for awards is around.
He may not be the guy who walks up to the podium, kiss the trophy and dedicate it to Mamma but if this guy can walk up and take it , it would salute a rich moment in the story of our cinema. " --

"Khanna, who's done his fair share of inane Bollywood roles, reveals his too rarely seen acting skills as Harilal.. "

"I usually don't care for weak, loser-type characters in stories. But, Akshaye Khanna makes you feel for the nervous, diffident, Harilal who has a huge image to live up to. You can sense the pressure the son faces - wanting to impress his father but fortunately or unfortunately discovering that he has a mind and ambitions of his own. "

"Akshaye Khanna as Harilal skillfully embodies this forsakenness, desperation and hurt and he enacts his role with the conviction, madness and grief that afflicts this failed and tortured son of a charismatic leader." Tehelka

"Akshaye Khanna essays the role of Harilal Gandhi with finesse. " Screen

Doesn't Akshaye deserve an Oscar?

Don't Anil, Akshaye deserve an Oscar? That's the title of this very positive review. We agree wholeheartedly. Akshaye does. Not just for acting. Just for being himself.

By the way, it's so kewl when it says not even Aamir Khan could have done the role himself. Go read it!


I was busy, so couldn't update the blog. Hope this should make it up for you guys. Akshaye at the premiere of Gandhi--My Father

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Stardust Interview



SD: Suddenly this year it’s raining films for you. First it’s ‘Naqaab’ and then ‘Race’. What happened? Akshaye Khanna decided to go full throttle?
AK: It happens na. It happens with every actor. Sometimes you have two, sometime you have four films.
SD: Did you ever consciously decide to do one film at a time, as it seems to be the trend today?
AK: Never, not at all. Yes, everybody prefers to work that way, even I do, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
SD: But two films back to back with Abbas-Mustan just happened to happen?
AK: Naqaab’ just happened. It was not going to be my film, it was somebody else’s commitment, which didn’t work out, and they had this script ready. I was free, Bobby was free, so it happened. I love working with Abbas-Mustan, so I am happy.
SD: Are you settling into this thriller genre of ‘36 China Town’, which is entertaining? There is an odd Priyadarshan film but predominantly this one.
AK: I like suspense films. I like watching them; I like being part of them. I don’t understand what you mean by settling in though.
SD: When you did ‘Salaam-E-Ishq’, with a whole bunch of actors did you insist on having your role spelt out to finer details?
AK: It was done very finely, without me having to ask for it. If you are doing a film like that with so many people, it’s important to know what you are going to do in that film. Not only when there is an ensemble of cast, even though if it’s just you it’s important that you know what you are doing in a film. Nikhil was very clear about that. And he gave everybody what they wanted.
SD: Everyone was talking about how doing that film would antagonise Karan Johar because of his fallout with Nikhil Advani. Did you feel like you were standing by the right then by fulfilling your commitment to the film?
AK: I don’t think so. Karan is too big for that now. I don’t think he is so petty. I don’t know him personally at all. I hardly interact with him in professional or personal life. But from whatever I know about him and whatever I have heard, I don’t think he is that petty to think that way.
SD: But there were many who backed out of that film for that reason.
AK: I don’t know about it. May be I could be wrong. Firstly, I don’t think Karan would be like that and secondly I wasn’t working with him anyway to be thinking about how he would react. I don’t live my life thinking about what will happen and what ill will happen.
SD: In that film you played a commitment phobic man. Do you identify with him as a person?
AK: I don’t know the different degrees of being commitment phobic but that character would be an extreme case. Yes I do see myself that way; more often than not.
SD: It’s been thirteen years in the industry and you still haven’t been in a long term relationship…
AK: Absolutely, I am a bachelor. One has to meet the right person to be interested in a long-term relationship. I haven’t met that person.
SD: Or maybe when you have, you have guarded it very closely for anyone to know.
AK: Honestly, when I hear people getting caught, not only people in the industry but society generally, I really think they are dumb to get caught. It’s a stupid thing to allow it to happen. For say a husband getting caught by his wife or even a wife getting caught by her husband cheating on him. I mean how could you be caught? I mean why will you be so stupid? It’s so easy to be discreet. It’s common sense for me and why other people don’t get it, I don’t know. Probably they want to be caught. There are a lot of people who want to be spoken about, written about. And that makes perfect sense if you are in the business where if you are talked about more it works better for you. That never interested me at all.
SD: Coming to think of it, you are also an eligible bachelor but the tag has never been stuck on to you?
AK: Who cares?
SD: Don’t you like being called the ‘Most Eligible Bachelor in town’?
AK: No, not at all. I do have my life and so does anybody who is called an eligible bachelor. Someone calling me an eligible bachelor does not make me an eligible bachelor or doesn’t make me happy or give me a high. It does nothing to me. Them calling me eligible does not make me eligible and them calling me not eligible does not make me non-eligible. And that is the fact, is it not?
SD: You have been a non-conformist right form the onset. You steer clear of socialising with film people, you are so fiercely defensive about your space, and you prefer to live in your South Mumbai environment even though it takes hours to drive down to where all the studios are.
AK: So why does that trouble you?
SD: You are obstinate about wanting to lead your life in a particular way and are not very compromising in whatever you do.
AK: But why would living in town be considered being non-conformist? My dad has lived in town, all his life since he has been an actor. Suneil Shetty lives in town I don’t see you calling him a non-conformist. Shammi Kapoor has lived in town all his life; I think he has been around here for many years.
SD: Tara Sharma is heading for matrimony. Do you think that the countdown for your walk down the aisle has begun too?
AK: I am too young to think about that, at least in my head. Maybe some people think differently. I am not ready for marriage; I am not looking to be married. I am thoroughly enjoying being a bachelor. I am not quite sure if I ever will. I am not quite in sync with the concept of that.
SD: But don’t you want to discover if you are cut out for it or not?
AK: I think that every person wants to know if he is cut out for it or not, but you realise that only after you get married.
SD: But you don’t even want to take that chance?
AK: No, I don’t want to take any chance. Tomorrow I might get married but now I don’t see myself getting married, at least not in the near future.
SD; You are rarely seen in romantic films these days. Aren’t any such projects coming your way or have you grown tired of them?
AK: I would love to do a romantic film. It’s definitely the toughest and especially in today’s time when audiences are so discerning. I can’t find a bright interesting love story and I think to find an original and interesting love story and then to write and direct it, it’s very difficult. I feel that a love story has to be really good for it to work. Even if you look at the kind of films that the industry is making now, there is no pure love story. I can’t even remember the last one. Maybe ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna’ or ‘Tara Rum Pum Pum’ you can categorise as a love story but not really since it is not the main part of it. It’s got nothing to do with me, I would love to do a love story. But I think fewer are being written and fewer are being made because of the quality of the writing.
SD; ‘Qurbani’ was your father’s super duper hit film. So when its remake was announced, it sounded natural that you would reprise his role today. But they went to Saif for that role. Would you have done the remake of ‘Qurbani’?
AK: I would have never done it. Not that I was approached for it. I think it certainly loses its own touch when you try to update it or do it better. I completely respect whoever is making it. But as an actor it wouldn’t interest me to try something that has already been done well. In my mind it would be suicidal. I don’t have any problems with anybody being approached for the role. I might have, if it was something I would have liked to do. But it never crossed my mind that I should have been.
SD: You were a very solid part of Farhan Akhtar’s camp but surprisingly in ‘Lakshya’ or ‘Don’ he didn’t think of casting you.
AK: Farhan and I never discussed any other film post ‘Dil Chahta Hai’
SD: It was a good teamwork in ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. Farhan was one of the directors who used your talent to the fullest. Tomorrow if you feel like, would you go and approach him saying that you wouldn’t mind doing another film with him?
AK: He knows I have worked with him at the drop of the hat. He is a very intelligent person. If ever he has a role for me he will come to me, there is no problem. We are friends, so whenever he has something he will approach me.
SD: After ‘Humraaz’, ‘Naqaab’ has Bobby and you together for the second time and Abbas-Mustan are the directors again. After the gap of so many years, you think a lot has changed?
AK: I think we have matured a bit, learnt a bit. I think working with the same people helps because there is a certain understanding of each other’s needs. It was great fun doing ‘Humraaz’ with Bobby, Amisha and Abbas-Mustan and it was great fun doing ‘Naqaab’.
SD: Does the chemistry get better when you work the second time together?
AK: Ya, I think so. Especially between the director and the actor. And also between co-stars and actors. The comfort level is higher and you have a good understanding of each other. Everybody has a rhythm, everybody has a style. It is more a question of being organised. To understand somebody and to be comfortable with them is an important part of teamwork. Also if you enjoy working with somebody, you may like the person and it might show in the end result with the film. That’s why you see so many people doing multiple films with each other.
SD: And there is a new girl, Urvashi Sharma, in ‘Naqaab’.
AK: Oh the new girl is really very good! She has got a role any newcomer would do anything for. She has really been given a chance to show what she is as an actress. She is not like a showpiece, just standing by or just sitting around. She has really got a lot of meat to her role. Also she has Abbas-Mustan who are really good with the actors. I think she has done really well, she is a nice girl and I enjoyed working with her.
SD: When you did ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ with Saif, he wasn’t a big star. And you two had got along well. Have things changed now?
AK: I think the only thing that has changed is that he has become a big star. Much bigger than he was at that time.
SD: But that film was the beginning of his success.
AK: Ya, it was. I think it’s really great and I feel happy for him since he is someone who hasn’t been given his due for a long time and hasn’t been given the right roles. But he is still the same person, someone whom you could sit with for five hours and not get bored. I don’t know anybody who has got more stories than Saif. He constantly tries to make you laugh. I personally find him funny and great company. He is very intelligent and witty and he is a real gentleman. We had a blast during ‘Dil Chahta Hai’.
SD: There was a talk of this film under your home production to star your father, Rahul and you. What’s happening with that? Or haven’t you been approached for the film from your own banner?
AK: I haven’t even heard of such a film, let alone acting in it. I think it is important in my understanding that you make a film because you have got a good story to tell not because you want to cast some people in the film. For me it holds no interest as an audience unless it’s a really good film and all three of us suit the parts.
SD: Your father had once said that each one of us needs a spiritual anchor. Do you feel the same and need one too?
AK: I don’t follow any religion. My father was born a Hindu. I have my own take on things. Though I don’t follow any religion, I definitely believe in God. But I don’t worship. I have my own philosophy in life. Unless your parents inculcate those kinds of things in you, you are more than likely to grow up with your own beliefs.
SD: Why does one see you doing so many endorsements of late?
AK: I have done couple of endorsements and I want to do more. I suppose I was commercially bad for a long time.
SD: You are doing Anil Kapoor’s ‘Gandhi’. How is it like to do a film with another actor as a producer?
AK: Anil Kapoor is the best person I have worked with. He wasn’t acting in the film but he is the most incredible producerI have ever worked with. I am doing another film with him starting from June. He is a very mature person. I think production thing runs in his family.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

What the critics had to say about Akshaye

"Of all the actors in the film it's only Akshaye Khanna who really shines in the role of the luck-deprived Harilal Gandhi. It's a wonderful performance, and it's not easy since the role covers virtually the entire lifespan of the character.

"But Akshaye brings a rare concoction of innocence and despondency to that part and succeeds in making Harilal a pitiable figure. Just watch him in that scene in which he discovers his wife's dead, and you'll realise how much he conveys through body language alone. " Rajeev Masand, CNN-IBN

"Akshaye Khanna is absolutely inspired and gives the complex part all his conviction and intelligence. His breakdown scenes are especially heart-wrenching. Hats off to her, Khanna and a project that cares to state that right can be wrong. " Khaled Mohammed, Hindustan Times

"A real shocker (in a positive way) is Khanna, who has you stand up and take notice. He brings put the variations in his characters extremely well."--Sanjay Ram, Business of Cinema

"Akshaye Khanna might be doing a gamut of commercial movies but there is no doubt about the fact that he is one of the finest actors in Bollywood today who can carry off all kinds of roles. He is extremely natural and expressive as Harilal and this can easily qualify as Khanna’s best performance till date." -- Sneha Hazarika,

"Akshaye Khanna plays the troubled Harilal and every frame featuring him promises an absolute tour de force performance from the man forced to do inane comedies like ‘Shaadi Se Pehle’ and ‘Aap Ki Khatir’.He seems in super form as a harrowed Harilal going from pillar to post, bottle to brothel, to find his won identity." -- Debataru De,

"The handsome Harilal (played by a Bollywood matinee idol) " Philip French, The Observer

"Akshaye lives the part to the hilt, he manages to show abiding love towards his mother with a mix of respect and rejection for his father. " Shubra Gupta, Indian Express

"The person to whom your heart goes out is Akshaye Khanna. As clichéd as it may sound but from frame one, what you see is Harilal and not the Akshaye Khanna you know. Those who claim Akshaye to have stuck with his HUMRAAZ, 36 CHINA TOWN and NAQAAB kind of roles need to have a dekko at his impeccable act here. His entire body language and mannerisms deserve biggest applause. Watch him being in awe of his father in the initial scenes or his drifting apart inch-by-inch with every interaction of theirs.

The cake is taken by three sequences where it is impossible not to shed a tear - when he cries on realizing his wife's death, when he meets his mother [Shefali Chhaya] at the 'ashram' after coming drunk and when he brings an orange for his mother at the railway station. Flawless. These three scenes by themselves ensure that Akshaye walks away with the highest awards this year." Joginder tuteja,

"Akshaye Khanna as Harilal is outstanding and his performance will tear you up, especially the part where he goes to meet his parents at a railway station. He gives his mother an orange but refuses to share it with his father, stating that Mahatma Gandhi is the Mahatma because of her. "--Syed Firdaus Ashraf,

"With 'Gandhi My Father' Akshaye Khanna makes the transition from star to actor. He delivers a finely tuned performance as the troubled son Harilal Gandhi of the revered leader Mahatma Gandhi " Indu Mirani, Daily News & Analysis

"Akshaye Khanna is first rate as Harilal Gandhi. The pain and the machinations of being unable to match up to his illustrious father are so natural; probably his best performance till date.

He is amazing in a few sequences:

His confrontation with his mother after embracing Islam.
The drunken scene where he is rounded up by the police.
The breaking-down scene in his mohalla.
His final collapse after the demise of his wife, Gulab.
The scene after the death of Gandhi, where he merely reacts to Dhaba owner. Anguish mixed with anger. Amazing!

These sequences stay with the viewer." Amit Agrawal, Merinews

"It would be a shame and injustice if Akshaye doesn’t win an award for his performance in the film. The actor sinks his teeth deep into his character. In the initial parts he brings innocence and rawness into Harilal. But slowly this innocence develops into open rebellion against his father." N.K. Doshi,

"Akshaye Khanna must be one of very few actors in the industry to have gotten a chance to essay a character, hitherto unknown, in a film sensitively handled, considering the subject and emotions involved. After all, such films are not made everyday. Amitabh Bachchan is quoted to have told his son, Abhishek, that it took him 25 years to get a film like BLACK. For an artiste nothing is more creatively satisfying than a good role, felt passionately by the makers, essayed with aplomb. More of Akshaye later.....

Back to Akshaye Khanna, who plays Harilal Gandhi. In one word, this talented actor who everyone knew was performing much below his potential is outstanding. In trying to describe his brilliance, I’m afraid I may fall short of his genius. So let’s leave it at this, that he has portrayed Harilal with sincere innocence that leaves you wondering whether to feel sorry for him or hate him." Martin D'Souza,

"The acting is uniformly good, especially Akshaye Khanna as the inconstant Harilal - more his father's son than he would ever let on. After all, like his father, he is willing to live and die by his convictions, but not let go." Naomi Dutta, TimesNow tv

"This scene, at a railway station, is Akshaye Khanna’s finest moment; he registers beautifully the childish obstinacy that makes people believe that if they ignore a problem it will somehow go away."

"In the first place, it showcases Akshaye Khanna's acting skills as never before. As Harilal, the loser son who traverses the long road from being touted as Chhota Gandhi to a cheat, alcoholic and a waster for whom nationalism, Gandhism were dispensable 'isms', Akshaye almost makes you weep. Completely dwarfed by his father's larger-than-life personae, the boy had no choice but to rebel against the Gandhi label which became the proverbial crown of thorns on his head. And amidst all the confrontations and misgivings with his venerable father, the only thing that remained constant was his love for his mother, Kasturba. " Nikhat Kazhmi, Times of India

"So Gandhi My Father has ambition and craft. It also has a towering performance by Akshay Khanna whose trembling lips encapsulate a lifetime of frustration and sadness. " Anupama Chopra, NDTV

Reviewing Akshaye Khanna in Gandhi-My Father

I have seen Gandhi-- My Father. It worked better in the promos. As almost every reviewer has noticed, the films loses its focus along the second half, focusing more on the Gandhi's role in history than on its father and son theme. It also become more and more theatrical, like Gandhi's speech in riot torn Calcutta. I was worried when Sreekar Prasad was chosen as the editor and he ruins the movie. Dramatic moments are cut short and boring montages given more prominence. Great moments breeze past without a proper context. Though a decent and well-made movie, it nowhere realises the emotional potential of its theme.

Now to Akshaye. Before Dil Chahta Hai happened, Akshaye's movie were confined to a single theme, that of a son who has major issues with his father. Right from his first movie, Himalay Putra, the trend continued on. Border, Aa Ab Laut Chalen, Kismat... the trend continued post DCH too in movies like Hungama and Deewaar. I think most Bollywood scriptwriters write for a star based on a set screen image and since Border was Akshaye's first hit, that character became his staple. Gandhi, My Father though not the same trap, is still the continuation of the same role. I imagined the movie would, in a sense, become the final cap of all those earlier roles and Akshaye would finally move on from this chracter after a triumph. Sadly, it doesn't.

All those movies also shared annoying feature. They all start well but lose their thread somewhere along the way and Akshaye's chracter becomes increasingly sidelined. Sadly, Gandhi,My Father continues this tradition. It does allow him a few good scenes initially but throughout the second half he is increasingly sidelined for the sake of Gandhi, so much so that his scenes gets cyclical, repetitive and take away a lot from his performance. Like all his movies before, they refuse the chance for him to build on his performance and get a credible climax. Like all his movies before, it refuses to plead his case convincingly and thus make him unable to connect with his audiences.

That said, the movie also shows enormous strides he has made as an actor. First of all, nobody who has seen this movie can fail to notice how controlled his stock mannerisms have become. I have always held that he overdoes his smling, twitching, eyebrow-raising bits only when the scene has blanks in it and he can't fill those blanks and hence goes overboard. Here, you are instantly notice how much he does with how little.

He relies more on his voice and eyes than physical gesticulations. Just notice the incommunicable emotion in his eyes in the scene where the news of Gandhi's assassination plays behind his back. He looks beautiful even in the wretchedness of a beggar sipping tea. Raj Zutshi's outburst is jarringly theatrical and this scene is too fleeting to notice but try and focus on his eyes. Is it loss? Is it victory? Relief? I couldn't tell what it was but it felt exactly right.

He has acquired pitch perfect dialogue delivery. One of the little-mentioned highlights of the movie is in a scene where Gandhi praises Harilal on a nice book he had been reading. Harilal replies by saying that he has always tried to educate himself, no matter how hard the circumstances. That's a subtle, heartbreaking rebuke and he delivers it perfectly.

His histrionics too have become finetuned. Example, the scene where he cries at his wife's death. Or the ramleela scene. Or the train station scene. He made me weep.

Gandhi-My Father affords him some great moments without ever giving him the opportunity to take the movie and make it his. It's as if he was allowed to paint a few beautiful strokes but not allowed to finish the canvas.

Gandhi-My Father is not a historic triumph for Akshaye but it does show that Akshaye has perfected his instruments and mastered the medium. From now on, it is a matter of finding a suitable platform to channel his overabundant talent.
His fans have always been sure of his talent and always irritated when high n mighty critics dismissed him off. Now, they can finally take satisfaction that no one brush off Akshaye anymore. After a decade of false starts, he has arrived as an actor. And how!

Friday, August 3, 2007

"Akshaye extreordinary" Indiafm

“The greatest regret of my life…Two people I could never convince --My Muslim friend Mohammed Ali Jinnah andMy own son Harilal Gandhi.” Making a film based on true events is difficult. Not only does it entail lots and lots of research, but to recreate the bygone era and get the right set of actors to enact the characters is another challenge.
Write your own movie review of Gandhi My FatherIt's all the more tough if the film is based on Mahatma Gandhi. And a far bigger challenge is to present the relationship shared by the Mahatma and his son Harilal. Everyone knows about Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, but not much is known about him as a father to his children. GANDHI MY FATHER tells the story of Harilal Gandhi and the relationship he shared with his parents, more particularly with his father, the great Mahatma. GANDHI MY FATHER leaves an indelible impression on the viewer. Since the story of Harilal is not known to many, you absorb every incident like a sponge absorbs water. It's an enlightening experience… and also a moving one. Your heart goes out to Harilal and his plight, more so towards the sunset of his life, makes you moist-eyed. GANDHI MY FATHER tells a story not told before and director Feroz Abbas Khan tells it very well. Put your hands together for one of the finest films to come out of India. This one deserves to be the official entry for the Oscars. To sum up, GANDHI MY FATHER is a must watch for every Indian. Strongly recommended! Somewhere in the shadows of a great man [Mahatma Gandhi] lived his son [Harilal Gandhi], roaming the streets of India like a beggar. Converting to Islam as a rebellion, reconverting to Hinduism as a penance and finally drinking himself to death. Mahatma Gandhi could transform the soul of a nation, but could not save the soul of his own son. The film unfolds a personal tragedy about a principled father and an unfortunate son. For most viewers, the story of GANDHI MY FATHER is an eye-opener, since it tells a rarely heard story and tells it exceedingly well. The storyteller recreates the era with flourish, not once deviating from the core issue. The story is not about the freedom movement and the pivotal role played by the Mahatma, but it highlights the sensitive relationship between a father and son. As a cinematic experience, GANDHI MY FATHER unfolds in the most simplistic, but compelling manner. Since the director is talking history, he ought to do the balancing act well. He reproduces facts without resorting to cinematic liberties and at the same time, simplifies everything so that the viewer can decipher it well. A landmark film in all respects, highlighting a scene or two would be doing gross injustice to the film. For, every sequence has the power to keep you hooked and most importantly, carries the stamp of a genius. The director has ensured that every department works in tandem. David Macdonald's cinematography is superb. Special mention must be made of the B & W, grainy frames that compliment the actual footage. The production design [Nitin Chandrakant Desai] is perfect. The ambience transports you to the early 20th century. Make-up [Penny Smith] is of international standard. The transformation of the characters as they age looks so real. Costumes [Sujata Sharma] suit the theme well. Background score [Piyush Kanojia] is appropriate. Akshaye Khanna is extraordinary in the role of Harilal Gandhi. He portrays the varied emotions -- angst, sorrow, anger, frustration, love -- with great understanding and maturity and comes up with his career-best work. Darshan Jariwala as Mahatma Gandhi is another great performance you carry home. Although a number of seasoned actors have portrayed the part of Mahatma Gandhi on the big screen, Darshan's performance easily ranks amongst the best. Shefali Shah is awesome. Note the sequence when Harilal converts to Islam and Kasturba Gandhi visits him. Or the final moments before she bids goodbye to the world. The actress deserves the highest marks. Why don't we see more of Shefali on the big screen? Bhumika Chawla is excellent. Her portions, with Harilal mainly, are well enacted. On the whole, GANDHI MY FATHER is a treat for movie lovers. As mentioned at the very outset, it's a must-see for all Indians. At the box-office, it holds tremendous appeal for the multiplexes, where it should grow with a strong word of mouth. Strongly recommended!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Akshaye's interview

Another interview of Akshaye. Thanks for Pratim who posted it on his blog:

He cried. At a private show of Gandhi My Father, with father Vinod Khanna, Akshaye Khanna cried. A decade after he debuted with Himalay Putra, the son has risen. He was romantic in Taal, endearing in Border, engaging in Dil Chahta Hai and sinister in Humraaz... and yet, as Anil Kapoor puts it, “totally underutilised”.Gandhi My Father was what the good doctor had ordered for Akshaye.

As director Feroz Abbas Khan says, the role of Harilal — estranged son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi — needed an actor and not a star. “And while Akshaye is definitely a star, we wanted the actor in him to come out,” says Feroz. “Right from the auditions to the sets, we realised that the lesser the star Akshaye became, his character became stronger and stronger.”W

hile Akshaye has always been promising, his choice of films has been far from satisfactory. Watching him admire Mallika Sherawat’s assets with a wig almost falling over his nose in an inane sex comedy like Shaadi Se Pehle was quite a torture chamber experience — for him and us.But even in the mediocre material that has come his way, Akshaye has tried to bring a method to the madness.

“You can hear his brain ticking all the time,” says Salaam-e-Ishq maker Nikhil Advani. “As an actor, he gives a director so many options in the same scene. He is one of the best we have.”

As Akshaye says in a chat with Pratim D. Gupta, the greatest of actors make mistakes. We hope Akshaye’s made his share and Gandhi My Father proves to be the turning point.

Your producer and your biggest fan Anil Kapoor says that Akshaye Khanna was born to play Harilal. Your comments...

(Laughs) That’s very sweet of him. The way I see it all the casting in the film has been done keeping in mind who suits the characters the best. Not just me, even Gandhi and Kasturba.

But Gandhi My Father is definitely not just another film you have done...

No, definitely. There’s something really special. Something that has exceeded my expectations. I was floored by the script but the film has turned out to be even better. I feel fully charged about Gandhi My Father. It’s really, really something to look forward to.

What made it special? The historical backdrop or the human relationships?

I feel it is the relationship between Harilal Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi. No one knows about this story, yaar. What a beautiful story! What a moving story! Very few people even know about the existence of Harilal Gandhi.

The general feeling is that Harilal was so overawed by his father that he wasted his own life. How do you look at him?

I know people feel that just because Harilal had a troubled relationship with Mahatma Gandhi, he was weak. No. That’s not true. He was a tremendously intelligent, a man with very strong character. He had a mind of his own. How many people know that Harilal was Mahatma Gandhi’s right-hand man in South Africa? He was the first Satyagrahi. He went to jail so many times. Harilal was the first person to use fasting as a weapon for justice. He was the man who taught Gandhi that fasting can be used to fight against injustice.

Isn’t Gandhi My Father pitched as a family film rather than a historical account?

Yes, because here we are dealing with emotions that can never be dated, can never be irrelevant.

What is the essence of the story?

As my director (Feroz Abbas Khan) says it beautifully: “Here is a boy looking constantly for Bapu and confronting Mahatma.” Now, those are basic family values.History is in the background. Freedom struggle, all that, is used as a backdrop. What is in the front is the story of a family. The sacrifices that all the great leaders of that time made was not just about going to jail. Families were ruined, relationships were affected. Now that you and me are talking here in a free country is because of those sacrifices.

You did not do any other film during the making of Gandhi My Father.
Did you feel responsible for the job at hand?

Instantly. No two ways about it. I have never ever come across this calibre of writing. It just stunned me. There was no question about not doing it. The entire team just approached this film in such a way... the whole focus came from a place of honesty, of truthfulness. Just tell the story, that was the idea.As far as research goes, since Harilal is not a known figure, my job became easier than Darshan Zariwala or Shefali Shah. Their responsibility was far greater. Because no one knows how Harilal looked, how Harilal talked, I just had to capture the essence of the man, the spirit of the man. Feroz gave me some material and said, it’s enough, just read it a couple of times and then just go with the script.

It’s said that everyone in Bollywood wanted to do this role, including Aamir Khan. Does that put extra pressure on you?Why should that put pressure on me?

My work is already done. It is canned. It is ready to be shown the world over. I can’t do anything more. And I do not feel that I could have given any more effort. There is no sense of regret or the feeling that I have left one stone unturned. I have really given everything to this role. Now we just want as many people as possible to be aware of the film and, hopefully, like it. Now if someone wanted to do my role, well, I can’t do anything about it.

After doing films like Gandhi My Father, is it difficult to get yourself to do such inane Bollywood romcoms?

Every film requires its own approach. I don’t approach my films as being unimportant or less important. When I am on the sets and doing my work, all the films are same to me. I have to be in the moment and I have to do my job to the best of my ability. To me there is no distinction. But the media and the public have their own point of view and rightly so.

You certainly can do better than Shaadi Se Pehle and Aap Ki Khatir...

All actors make decisions and choices which are part of their work. That does not mean that you choose not to work in certain kinds of movies. I did those films out of choice. Why should I be shy of it? If I made choices which ‘x’ number of people think have been bad choices, I accept it. I embrace it. But I have made that choice and I have gone wrong. And sometimes I have been right.You pick the greatest actors in the world. They have all gone wrong. They have done films which have not done justice to them, which have disappointed their fans and well-wishers. That is the nature of the business. I am not Einstein. Hopefully those mistakes will become less but I will continue to make my choices. I am not coming from a space where I should be ashamed. I am not trying to run away from my work.

Will you do more Western productions or maybe crossover films?

After this I am not thinking of anything. Three of us — Anil, Feroz and me — are just going mad. It’s like we are delivering a baby. And when delivering you can’t think about anything else apart from the baby.

Early Reviews

Reviews have started coming in mostly from international press. They are not too high on the movie but they are uniformly good about Akshaye's performance. Good thing is it is getting noticed in internatioanl arena and so is Akshaye. It should do better in India where movie of such quality is a rare event.

Geoffrey Macnab in Screen Daily:

"To his nation, he was a father. To his son, he was a father...he never had." Thus reads the tag line for Feroze Abbas Khan's Gandhi My Father, a film which never seems entirely sure whether it wants to be a sweeping historical epic along the lines of Richard Attenborough's celebrated biopic of the Indian leader or a closely focused family drama. Rather it tells the sad, and very chequered, story of Mahatma Gandhi's son, Harilal who, overshadowed by his father, Harilal died as a beggar and alcoholic.

Well-written and exhaustively researched, it will tap into the huge curiosity that still surrounds Gandhi, a near mythical figure in modern Indian history. Some cinemagoers will be very curious about an aspect of Gandhi's life that (at least in the West) remains relatively little explored. Khan has also elicited two excellent performances from Darshan Jariwala as Mahatma Gandhi and Akshaye Khanna as his wastrel son.

But the attempts to trace Gandhi's role in modern Indian history inevitably distract from a full exploration of the father-son relationship. There is also sometimes the sense that the film-makers are pulling their punches. Early on, they infer that Gandhi has been a negligent father but they do not want to be too critical of such a venerated figure. Nor - despite Harilal's fall from grace - do they want to lapse too far into the real of melodrama.

The result is a film that often appears to be pulling in opposing directions. Overlong, sometimes repetitive and with only modest production values, Gandhi My Father looks like a tough sell beyond home crowds and sympathetic overseas audiences when it rolls out in the US, UK and India among others on August 3.

Gandhi My Father begins in June 1948, as a near-dead body is found in the driving rain. With matted hair and an unkempt beard, the man looks like a common beggar; in fact it is Harilal, a homeless alcoholic. No-one will believe that he is the son of Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated only six months before.

In flashbacks, we follow Gandhi's (Jariwala) involvement in the civil rights struggle in South Africa in the years leading up to the First World War. During this period, Harilal (Khanna) is a dutiful son, idealistic and doggedly loyal to his father but also under-fulfilled. His father is so embroiled in his political campaigning that Harilal has not received a proper education: he yearns to become a lawyer, but Gandhi is either unaware of his aspirations or does not think he is up to it.

Harilal's later problems - and many failed business ventures - are (the film-makers imply) rooted in this early lack of opportunity. The son feels shame and frustration that he is never given the opportunity to crawl from under his father's shadow. Harilal's mother (Shah), who remains devoted to him, tries to cajole her husband into helping Harilal with his career, but Gandhi's focus is elsewhere.

The scenes between father and son are well played. Darshan Jariwala portrays the Indian leader as a genial, cheerful but utterly determined figure. Meanwhile Akshaye Khann conveys the son's naiveté, frustration and his weakness. As he says poignantly to his father at one stage: "You cut my wings. How am I supposed to fly?"

But once the action switches to India, the storytelling becomes less certain. Using archive footage and Zelig-like black-and-white reconstructions, the film-makers chronicle Gandhi's political battles against the British and his non-violence campaigns.
Meanwhile we are shown how Harilal disappoints his father. His business ventures invariably fail and his loyal wife (Chawla) has to hide him from his many creditors. He turns to drink: when he is at a low ebb, he continually uses his father's name to bail himself out of difficulty.
Initially, there is considerable pathos in his fall from grace, Harilal's overwhelming grief at the death of his wife and in the way his mother always tries to stand up for him. There is also a strong Oedipal strain to the storytelling. Harilal wants to defy his father and establish his own identity: when he converts to Islam, it is clear he is doing so not only for material gain but to infuriate his father.

However, just as Harilal taxes the patience of almost everyone who tries to help him, the story of his decline and fall makes increasingly heavy demands on audience patience. It is a grim saga which surely did not demand to be told at quite such length.

The film aspires for a David Lean-like epic quality but only fleetingly achieves it. Little details grate - for instance, the obviously false whiskers worn by General Smuts (Viljoen); or the big set-pieces in which there never quite seem to be enough extras.

Individual scenes - Harilal defiantly confessing to his misdeeds on a busy street as a theatrical troupe passes by or the sequence in which he runs alongside his parents as they sit feted by huge crowds in a train - are well handled but the pacing overall is slack.

Before making the film, Feroze Khan also directed a very well-received theatre play, Mahatma Vs Gandhi, on the same subject. On stage, one guesses, the story must have been more tightly focused. At its core, this is a family drama about the vexed and very complicated relationship between a father and a son. By trying to open up the drama, Khan risks weakening it: rather the film is at its strongest when father and son are together, not when it is striving to be a big-screen epic.

David Chute in LA Weekly:

The premise is intriguing: the terrifying downside of having one of the greatest visionaries in human history as your old man. A first feature written and directed by theater veteran Feroz Abbas Khan, and produced as a “home production” by the great Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor (Mr. India), Gandhi, My Father radiates sincerity. It’s a beautifully shot and staged period reconstruction, and is at times impressively acted, at least in the secondary roles. What it lacks is fresh insight. We’re not surprised to learn that the unshakable principles that enabled Mahatma Gandhi (Darshan Jariwala) to shift the world on its axis were not always so helpful in dealing with individually flawed family members. Oldest son Hiralal Gandhi, in particular, led a frustrated and restless life, embracing several contradictory political and religious extremes, from Islam to Hindu fundamentalism, before ending his days in alcoholic destitution. Our sympathy for Hiralal as a victim, a poor schlub who would have been happy with a much less extraordinary life, is undercut by the weak-kneed performance of the often likable actor Akshaye Khanna (previously wonderful as the moonbat painter in Dil Chata Hai), who from the outset seems so sheepish and self-pitying that it would hardly take the force of a Mahtma to crush his spirit. This guy’s spirit comes pre-crushed.

Indeed, how is one supposed to play a weak man strongly? Harilal is a weak person, that is is the point of the movie. Still, the guy likes Akshaye though, so he is excused.