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He was born Rajiv Bhatia. Bollywood rechristened him Akshay Kumar.

The name proved lucky for the actor. When he joined the film industry has nothing besides his chiseled good looks and skill in martial arts to boast of.

Akshay shifted to Bangkok, Thailand in his early teens to master Taekwondo. He did acquire a black belt, along with working as a waiter in a restaurant. He returned to India and began coaching martial arts, when one of his students suggested he should pursue modeling.

Filmmaker Pramod Chakravarthy happened to browse through his portfolio and signed him for Deedar opposite Karisma Kapoor.

His first release was the eminently forgettable Saugandh with Shanti Priya. Some more inconsequential films like Dancer and Mr Bond followed. Then came Abbas-Mastan's slick whodunit Khiladi. The film was a runaway success. So was its title. Khiladi became synonymous with Akshay.

More hits like Mohra, Yeh Dillagi, Jai Kishen followed.

The media went ga-ga over the charming, down to earth actor. He also came under the limelight for his offscreen liaisons with actresses like Pooja Batra, Raveena Tandon and Shilpa Shetty.

Critics however dismissed him as a stuntman who couldn't act for nuts.

Akshay concentrated on his performances. He resurfaced with films like Sangharsh, Jaanwar, Dhadkan, Hera Pheri and Ek Rishtaa - The Bond of Love.

He seemed to be getting better with every passing film.

The next phase of his career saw him tread the negative path, as he played creepy guy in mentor Abbas-Mastan's Indianised version of Consenting Adults. His wicked performance earned him a Filmfare Award for Best Actor in a negative role.

Kumar is now devoted husband of the lovely Twinkle Khanna and father of their two-month-old son Araav.

From struggler to stuntman to Casanova to ideal husband to talented performer, Akshay Kumar is our success story for the week.

Also Read:
Last week's star: Raveena Tandon


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