‘Akshay Kumar As Hima Das’ Is the Patriotic Fatigue We All Feel

Wonder when it all began? Was it Mr Bond in 1992, Akshay Kumar’s third film after his debut in Saugandh? I remember watching it as a teenager in a seedy theatre in East Delhi. Akshay is Mr Bond, a police officer who brings a villain named Dragon in Bangkok to his knees thus saving the face of the desi police and politicians.

Humble beginnings perhaps of Khiladi Kumar’s patriotic fervour which would continue skyrocket even 27 years later with the upcoming 15 August release, Mission Mangal.

The release of the trailer of Mission Mangal saw many of us do an eye roll. Here’s yet another film showcasing yet another achievement by India fronted yet again by Akshay Kumar. Every good idea has a life cycle - it’s born, it succeeds, it peaks and then it becomes trite or hackneyed.

Akshay Kumar in and as Mr Bond.

The release of the trailer of Mission Mangal saw many of us do an eye roll. Here’s yet another film showcasing yet another achievement by India fronted yet again by Akshay Kumar. Every good idea has a life cycle - it’s born, it succeeds, it peaks and then it becomes trite or hackneyed. Some of the reactions that followed the Mission Mangal trailer clearly point out that Akshay Kumar as the neo-Mr Bharat has now become an overkill.

Nothing illustrates this better than a tweet that said, “Can’t wait for Hima Das biopic with Akshay Kumar in an as Hima Das”.

More followed:

From Namaste England (2007) to Kesari (2019) and everything in between, Akshay has milked the chest thumping Vande Mataram narrative to the point that it’s now become a joke.

In fact, Akshay’s patriotic game is so strong that he cancelled all Malayalis to play Ranjit Katyal in Airlift, a character inspired by the real life Mathunny Mathews who played a crucial role in helping several Indian escape from Kuwait during the Gulf war. When he’s not cancelling Malayalis, he’s playing a faux Bengali, such as Tapan Das in Gold. Just two examples of how scripts can be ‘modified’ to make any role for Akshay seem ‘tailor-made’.

So, little surprise then that sports enthusiasts and film goers alike are a little concerned that we might actually be faced with the prospect of Akshay Kumar playing Hima Das.

From explaining the nobility of the ‘namaste’ in Namaste England, to killing corruption in Gabbar, to giving a sermon about strong women to an international audience PadMan, Akshay Kumar has mastered the art of getting the box-office worked up over India’s accomplishments.

Jokes apart, Akshay did play a sainik in a film titled umm... Sainik in 1993 and then a POW in Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo over a decade later in 2004. But this was all before a carefully planned career strategy was chalked out to hit at the patriotic sentiments of a billion Indians and cash in on the Independence Day release date.

From explaining the nobility of the ‘namaste’ in Namaste England, to killing corruption in Gabbar, to giving a sermon about strong women to an international audience PadMan, Akshay Kumar has mastered the art of getting the box-office worked up over India’s accomplishments.

Find someone who looks at you like Akshay Kumar looks at the Indian flag.

And it’s not just in his films that Akshay Kumar continues to promote his image of Captain India, his TV commercials too exploit our patriotic sentiments to the hilt.

Check out how companies use Akshay Bharat Kumar to:

  • Advertise Cooking Oil

Akshay cooks and feeds a bunch of army folk who are missing home.

Akshay Kumar in a TVC for Fortune cooking oil.
  • Mansplain the Meaning of ‘Ayurveda’ to Tammanna Bhatia

Akshay dressed in shudh desi attire asks Tammanna to choose the genuine ayurvedic soap.

Akshay Kumar in the TVC for Ayush soaps.
  • Sell Floor Tiles

Akshay runs from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to save a tricoloured kite from falling on the ground.

Akshay Kumar in a TVC for Kajaria Tiles.

Staunch fans of Akshay argue that the actor seriously takes his image of a patriot beyond the screen too. It was Akshay who launched the app and website Bharat ke Veer, which allows people to donate for the armed forces and their families. Also, every time Akshay makes a contribution to the army, it never goes unreported. But, the naysayers will argue for discretion when it comes to charity, why not follow the “let not the right hand know what the left is doing” principle, they ask.

Akshay Kumar with Rajnath Singh at the launch of Bharat ke Veer app.

As an actor even Aamir Khan has done his share of “patriotic” films - Rang De Basanti, Mangal Pandey, Sarfarosh, Dangal and Lagaan to name a few. The star has also hosted and produced a path-breaking TV show titled Satyamev Jayate no less besides being involved in large-scale charity work, but the “nationalist” tag or “Mr Bharat” jibes haven’t stuck to Aamir.

Also remember that Akshay slipped in a scene that endorsed PM Modi’s demonetisation decision in his film Toilet: EK Prem Katha. In the film, which was publicised as an extension of the PM’s Swachh Bharat initiative, the CM of UP is heard saying, “If our PM can ensure note-bandi (currency ban) for the benefit of the country, can we not shut toilets?”

This could also be because Akshay is seen as an ally of the party that forms the current government in the centre, which is all for hyper nationalism. Remember, the actor was the chosen one to interview PM Narendra Modi about his fondness for mangoes bang in the middle of the general elections earlier this year. Also remember that Akshay slipped in a scene that endorsed PM Modi’s demonetisation decision in his film Toilet: EK Prem Katha. In the film, which was publicised as an extension of the PM’s Swachh Bharat initiative, the CM of UP is heard saying, "If our PM can ensure note-bandi (currency ban) for the benefit of the country, can we not shut toilets?"

Akshay Kumar interviewing PM Narendra Modi.

No wonder then that the Akshay is now a butt of jokes and memes that centre around his “patriotic” fervour. Perhaps it’s time for a change? Give a break to all those “inspired by a real incident that brought glory to India” kind of roles for a bit?

And the timing is perfect, we have an ideal candidate in Vicky Kaushal to take over Akshay’s Mr Bharat mantle. With Uri grossing over Rs 200 crore and Kaushal signing up for the Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, Akshay can afford to hand over the tiranga to the talented younger star.

It’s not just me saying it, check out this tweet that went viral when Akshay Kumar congratulated ISRO for the success of Chandrayaan 2:

Makes sense?

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