Is Ayushmann the new Akshay Kumar?

Not to suggest that Akshay Kumar’s career is reaching a closure. Far from it. But I see uncanny similarities in the career trajectories of the two AKs, Ayushmann Khurrana and Akshay Kumar

Is Ayushmann the new Akshay Kumar?
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Subhash K Jha

Not to suggest that Akshay Kumar’s career is reaching a closure. Far from it. But I see uncanny similarities in the career trajectories of the two AKs, Ayushmann Khurrana and Akshay Kumar.

To begin with, they both had an optimum number of hits in 2019: Akshay led with four, Ayushmann followed with three. But apart from the box office, there are more than coincidental resemblances in the personalities of the two stars. And since I know both fairly well, I can vouch for the similarities.

They are both family-oriented North Indians, Punjabis to be more specific, with a huge affinity for ground-level reality. Neither will either ever fit into the mould of the typical Bollywood supertstar — not in the way they conduct themselves — even if they are. superstars, I mean.

Looking at their family lives too, I see an uncanny resemblance. Both are married to intelligent and highly articulate women who are personalities independent of their Mrs Superstar status. Ayushmann’s better-half Tahira is about to embark on a career as a filmmaker. Akshay’s wife Twinkle is a one-time (reluctant) actress and a full-time author, columnist and mother
of two.

Tahira and Ayushmann too are proud parents to two bright kids, a son and a daughter whom they want to keep out of the limelight as much as possible. Akshay’s son wants to be a chef. Ayushmann’s son is too young to know what he wants in life. Come to think it, even Ayushmann didn’t know what he wanted out of his career. He confessed to me during one of our conversations that the image of the working-class hero happened willy-nilly. He was only doing the films that were offered
to him.

Akshay too didn’t plan his career. Initially he accepted everything that came his way. Until Suneel Darshan’s Jaanwar, Akshay’s career was pretty direction-less. This Ayushmann would never do. If push came to shove, he would avoid making mistakes like Saugandh, Deedaar and Mr Bond from the initial part of Akshay’s career. Today’s Akshay, yaane ke Ayushmann, is a far more confident soul, secure in his space and not afraid to let go for a while. After three hits in 2019 and three more ready for release, he has taken three months off to be with his wife and family.

Otherwise, he joked, his children would not recognise him any more. That brings me to to another similarity between the two Punjabi superstars. They both have a sense of humour. And yes, they both like to sing, although one of them does it much better than the other.

And reversing the role-model procedure, here is an interesting tidbit that links Ayushmann with Akshay. In his very first film, Vicky Donor, Ayushmann legitimised the use of the word ‘sperm’ in Hindi cinema. In his latest film, Good Newwz, Akshay uses the word ‘sperm’ as if it were going out of fashion.

Someone should cast the two AKs together. And the third AK, Anil Kapoor, can play their dad. Oh, he won’t! Okay, Anil can play the eldest of the three AK brothers.

Is that AK? I mean OK...

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