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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Akshaye Khanna: State Of Siege Actor Soldiering Through Career & Life

Akshaye Khanna has a charm and presence which is just so pleasing to watch. Whether it’s the dimpled smile or his witty dialogue delivery, he is an actor who has gotten better over time.

Being the son of legendary actor Vinod Khanna and several high-profile awards to his credit, the 46-year-old actor has impressed in several roles in movies like Taal, Dil Chahta Hai, Humraaz and Gandhi My Father, among many others.

It was only a matter of time when we would see Akshaye too join the OTT cinema revolution and that time… Has finally arrived. Through ZEE5’s State Of Siege: Temple Attack, Akshaye revisits a character style and genre which he has been familiar with – since his breakthrough performance in Border.

For his digital debut, essays the role of NSG commander Hanut Singh in the Ken Ghosh directed venture. The film, which was a former series, is loosely based on the 2002 terrorist attack that took place in Akshardham Mandir in Gujarat.

It showcases the lesser-known facts and untold stories about the strength and valour of the NSG commandos who saved the city when it was under siege during the horrific terror attacks.

“I definitely felt emotionally moved when I read the script. It was overwhelming as it would be for any rational-thinking human being,” Akshaye exclusively tells us. He adds:

“Having said that, the approach of the armed forces, especially NSG, has to reflect in the portrayal of the character. It’s their day job that happens very clinically. It’s difficult for any civilian to understand, but it’s just that.

I very much approached the role with that attitude – where there is no need for ‘heroic’ performance. My approach was to be just true to the part in terms of body language and various other aspects.”

Lt Col Sundeep Sen, who was also the consultant in the original series, worked closely with Khanna and the rest of the cast. The actor talks about how useful it was to work closely with Col Sen:

“My focus was two things one was body language, an area I needed absolute help from scratch. The second one was to get a glimpse into how the armed forces think. That came to me over a long period of time, interacting with Col Sen… Sitting for hours, listening about his experiences.

As far as the body language was concerned, that was just a physical element. He was on set every day so was available to me and every other actor on set. It was not like studying for an exam. If I needed him, I could just cross-check with him.”

Despite having a great body of work, life, however, has never been easy. As such, Khanna has experienced a lot of hiccups and setbacks along the way.

Following a quiet four-year hiatus since his 2012 release, Gali Gali Chor Hai, Khanna made his comeback with an antagonistic appearance in the action-comedy film Dishoom and appeared as an investigative cop in two thriller releases of 2017, the crime film Mom and the murder mystery Ittefaq.

Having witnessed such a dichotomy of success and failure, how does he balance both success and failure? In an honest and almost poignant response, he explains:

“Sometimes you find yourself sitting across an aspiring actor and you observe them. Very often when I interact with them or if they ask for advice, I usually think if they are ever prepared to fail? Have they taken that into consideration? or if they’ve thought what it would be like to be labelled as ‘failed’ or ‘unsuccessful’ actor?”

“In a profession that is not as public as acting, success and failures (especially) are relatively private. But it is something that an actor has to be emotionally prepared for. When I was starting out, I wish someone had spoken to me about this. It would’ve been a huge help.”

Recently, several Hindi film actors who rose to prominence during the 90s like Pooja Bhatt, Kajol, Sushmita Sen, Saif Ali Khan and Bobby Deol, to name a few transitioned to the digital platform and delivered some impressive performances… Distinct from their filmography.

Now, Akshaye joins this guild. So having made his digital footprint with State Of Siege, what style of roles would most appeal to him?

“I’m neither a writer nor director. So I have to choose from what is offered to me. Fortunately, I, throughout my career have been offered a variety of things and that continues to happen…

Even if you see my career journey in the last 3-5 years. I’ve been offered and done a variety of things. I just hope that will continue. I have no specific genre or character in my head. I’m at the mercy of what is offered to me,” he says.

State Of Siege: Temple Attack streams on ZEE5.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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