Last year, Sajid Nadiadwala-produced Dishoom hit the screens. Directed by Rohit Dhawan, the action comedy film had Varun Dhawan, John Abraham and Jacqueline Fernandez in pivotal roles. The film centred around a star batsman of the Indian cricket team who is kidnapped ahead of the final match against Pakistan. Pardon for the spoilers, the antagonist turns out to be a bookie called Wagah. Surprisingly, the role was played by Akshaye Khanna. It was indeed surprising as it was after a long haul of four years since we saw him on the silver screen.

Today is his 42nd birthday. After a forgettable debut in his father Vinod Khanna’s production Himalaya Putra in 1997, Khanna shot to limelight with his role of a valiant BSF jawan Lt Dharamvir in JP Dutta’s war-epic Border. Amid a galaxy of stars like Jackie Shroff, Sunny Deol and Sunil Shetty, Khanna is remembered for playing the naive officer who soon inculcates the habit of ruthlessly taking on the enemies. The scene in which he guns down a Pakistani informer and then firmly tells his superior (Deol), “Sir, aapne kaha tha aadat daal lo. aadat pad gayi”. We all cried when he was peppered with bullets in the war sequence of the 1971 Indo-Pak war drama. Border deserves special mention because after that there was no looking back for him. The film won him a Filmfare Award for Best Debut.

Two years later, Akshaye Khanna starred in Subhash Ghai’s musical classic Taal which became a runaway hit. His character Manav falls in love with the daughter of his father’s old friend, who is a singer. Khanna’s role was applauded by the critics and fans alike. But his moment of reckoning came in 2001 when he essayed the role of a reclusive painter Siddharth Sinha in Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai. The film became a trend-setter as it dealt with the aspirations of modern-day youth. Khanna stood out with his performance. The fight scene in which he slaps his on-screen friend Aakash (Aamir Khan) is intriguing.

Later, Khanna acted in comedy movies like Hungama, Hulchul and carved a name for himself as a versatile actor. He also earned accolades for his role of Harilal Gandhi in Gandhi, My Father. Khanna also donned negative roles in Humraaz and Race. However, he took a four-year-long sabbatical from acting and later made a comeback with Dishoom. What a relief! We hope he continues to enthrall us with his performances in days to come.

Have a nice day Akshaye!