Akshaye Khanna (born 28 March 1975) is an Indian actor who appears in Hindi films. He has received two Filmfare Awards and is the son of late actor Vinod Khanna. After studying in Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute in Mumbai, Khanna made his acting debut in Bollywood in 1997 with the movie Himalay Putra. His next release Border (1997) emerged as a critical and commercial success, earning him the Filmfare Best Debut Award and a nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Khanna rose to prominence with starring roles in the musical romantic drama Taal (1999), the comedy drama Dil Chahta Hai (2001) which won him a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor, the romantic thriller Humraaz (2002) for which he was nominated in the Best Negative Role category, the romantic comedies Hungama (2003) and Hulchul (2004), the murder mystery 36 China Town (2006), the action thriller Race (2008) and the heist comedy Tees Maar Khan (2010), and he continued to draw praise for his performances in the 1999 romance Dahek, the 2002 psychological thriller Deewangee, the 2007 biographical drama Gandhi, My Father and the 2010 action thriller film Aakrosh.
In 2016, he made his comeback as an antagonist after a four-year hiatus in the action-comedy film Dishoom and appeared as an investigative cop in two 2017 thrillers, the crime film Mom and the murder mystery Ittefaq.
Early and personal life
Akshaye Khanna was born in Jalandhar, Punjab, India to a Punjabi Hindu family from Peshawar. He is the second son of late famous Hindi actor and politician Vinod Khanna and the younger brother of actor Rahul Khanna. His mother name is Geetanjali Taleyarkhan who was a Parsi.
Debut, career struggles, and breakthrough (1997–99)
Khanna made his acting debut with Pankaj Parashar’s romantic drama Himalay Putra (1997), co-starring his father Vinod, Hema Malini, Satish Shah, Johny Lever, Danny Denzongpa, and Amrish Puri. His performance earned him a Screen Award for Best Male Debut, but the film underperformed at the box office despite mostly positive reviews. Later that year, Khanna starred in J. P. Dutta’s war drama Border alongside Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, and Jackie Shroff. Set during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the film was about the events of the Battle of Longewala and saw Khanna play the real-life role of Dharamvir Singh Bhan, a commander who is also a part of the battle. The film generated positive reviews and eventually proved to be the second highest-grossing Bollywood film of 1997. Border won 4 Filmfare Awards, including a Best Male Debut trophy for Khanna. He was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the same ceremony. Khanna’s final release of 1997 was the romance Mohabbat, in which he starred alongside Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Kapoor. The film received a negative critical reception and was commercially unsuccessful.
The following year, Khanna starred opposite Jyothika in Priyadarshan’s romantic drama Doli Saja Ke Rakhna (1998), in which he portrayed a rich person who falls in love with Jyothika’s character. In the same year, Khanna starred opposite Urmila Matondkar in Raj N. Sippy’s drama Kudrat, in which his character earned him negative reviews. None of these films fared well critically and commercially.
Khanna’s first release of 1999 came opposite Aishwarya Rai in Rishi Kapoor’s directorial debut—the musical romance Aa Ab Laut Chalen. It was a moderate commercial success in India but performed well at the overseas. His next film appearance was in Shrikant Sharma’s romance Laawaris opposite Manisha Koirala. The film received positive reviews, but fared poorly at the box office.
Khanna next starred opposite Aishwarya Rai and Anil Kapoor in Subhash Ghai’s musical love triangle Taal, in which he played Manav Mehta, the son of a wealthy rich man who falls in love with a poor aspiring singer. The film was highly anticipated by critics and proved to be the third highest-earning feature film of 1999, becoming his first commercial success since Border. Khanna’s final film that year was Lateef Binnu’s star-crossed romance Dahek in which he featured opposite Sonali Bendre as a Hindu boy who falls in love with a Muslim girl played by Bendre. The film proved to be a box office disappointment.
Critical recognition (2001–02)
After a two-year absence from full-time acting, Khanna appeared in Farhan Akhtar’s coming-of-age comedy-drama Dil Chahta Hai (2001) alongside Saif Ali Khan and Aamir Khan. Set in Mumbai, it focuses on a major period of transition in the lives of three young friends. Khanna featured as one of the friends named Siddharth Sinha, a quiet and reticent boy. The feature generated mainly positive reviews, with critical acclaim directed to the three leads’ performances, and emerged as a major commercial success. Dil Chahta Hai won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and seven Filmfare Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor award for Khanna.
Abbas–Mustan’s romantic thriller Humraaz (2002), co-starring Bobby Deol and Ameesha Patel, was Khanna’s next film release. He played the main antagonist Karan Malhotra, a convincing con-artist whose girlfriend (played by Patel) marries a rich man (played by Deol) to secure his wealth, but eventually falls in love with him. Humraaz proved to be a major economic success, and Khanna’s performance received critical praise. He won the IIFA Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role and received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role. That year, he also starred as a lawyer in Anees Bazmee’s thriller Deewangee alongside Ajay Devgn and Urmila Matondkar, a financial success for which he was nominated for the Screen Award for Best Actor.
Expansion into romantic comedies (2003–04)
In 2003, Khanna starred as an electronic salesman in Priyadarshan’s romantic comedy Hungama, co-starring Rimi Sen, Paresh Rawal, and Aftab Shivdasani. The feature became a box office hit with earnings of ₹202 million (US$2.8 million) despite a mixed critical reception. He next reunited with J. P. Dutta to film LOC Kargil, a war drama based on the events of the Kargil War fought between India and Pakistan. Khanna played the real-life character of Balwan Singh, an Indian army officer who is a part of the war. Children had high expectations for the film’s success at the box office, but it failed commercially despite receiving positive reviews from critics.
Khanna’s first release of 2004 was Milan Luthria’s action thriller Deewaar, in which he played Gaurav Kaul, the son of an Indian army officer who sets out on a journey to find his missing father. Co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, Amrita Rao, and Sanjay Dutt, it received critical acclaim but failed to fare well at the box office. In the same year, Khanna reteamed with Priyadarshan in the romantic comedy Hulchul, in which he was paired opposite Kareena Kapoor. The film proved to be a box-office hit. He didn’t have any releases in 2005.
Career decline (2006–07)
In 2006, Khanna appeared in three films—the first of which was Satish Shah’s comedy-drama Shaadi Se Pehle, co-starring Suniel Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani, and Mallika Sherawat. It received negative reviews from critics and flopped at the box office, but has attained a cult status over years. Khanna’s next role was in 36 China Town, a murder-mystery comedy adapted from the American film Once Upon a Crime and co-starring Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor. Directed by Abbas–Mustan, the film featured him as a police officer, and proved to be a financial success with earnings of over ₹369 million (US$5.2 million) worldwide. Khanna’s final film release that year was Dharmesh Darshan’s romantic comedy Aap Ki Khatir alongside Priyanka Chopra, Ameesha Patel, Suniel Shetty, and Anupam Kher. It proved to be one of the year’s biggest flops.
In 2007, Khanna acted in Nikkhil Advani’s drama Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love, a romantic comedy consisting of six chapters. He was featured in the first and second chapter opposite Ayesha Takia. The film received negative reviews from critics and emerged as a major commercial disappointment. His next appearance was in Abbas–Mustan’s love-saga Naqaab, in which he starred as Vicky Malhotra, an unemployed film personality, alongside Bobby Deol and Urvashi Sharma. The feature received positive reviews from audiences but turned out to be an average grosser.
Khanna then took a leading role in Feroz Abbas Khan’s adaptation of the novel Mahatma vs Gandhi, entitled Gandhi, My Father, co-starring Darshan Jariwala, Bhumika Chawla, and Shefali Shah. The feature explores the relationship between freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi (played by Jariwala) and his eldest son Harilal Gandhi (played by Khanna). Though the film underperformed at the box office, his performance was praised, with several critics regarding it as one of his finest performances, and earned him a second Best Actor nomination at Screen Awards. In his final release of that year, Khanna teamed with Anil Mehta for the dance film Aaja Nachle, co-starring Madhuri Dixit, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kunaal Roy Kapur, and Jugal Hansraj, which underperformed at the box office.
Establishing, Other Failures, and Sabbatical (2008–12)
Khanna’s performance in the Abbas–Mustan-directed action thriller Race (2008) marked a turning point in his career. Cast alongside Saif Ali Khan, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, and Bipasha Basu, Khanna garnered praise for his portrayal of the main antagonist Rajiv Singh, an alcoholic person who plots to kill his half brother (played by Khan) to secure his wealth. Race, despite receiving negative reviews, proved to be one of the highest-grossing films of that year with a worldwide revenue of over ₹1 billion (US$14 million), becoming Khanna’s highest-grossing release to that point, and his performance earned him Best Performance in a Negative Role awards at major award functions, including IIFA and Screen. The success of the film established Khanna as one of the established actors of the Hindi film industry. For his final release of 2008, he reunited with Priyadarshan in the comedy Mere Baap Pehle Aap, co-starring Paresh Rawal, Genelia D’Souza, and Archana Puran Singh. The film was a critical and commercial failure, and Khanna’s performance was largely criticised.
Khanna’s only release in 2009 was Neeraj Vora’s romantic comedy Shortkut, in which he starred alongside Amrita Rao and Arshad Warsi, playing the character of Shekhar, an assistant director who hopes to be a writer and director too. The feature garnered negative reviews from critics and bombed at the box office. The following year, he featured in three commercial failures—the first of which was Priyadarshan’s action thriller Aakrosh. The film (co-starring Ajay Devgn, Paresh Rawal, Bipasha Basu, and Reemma Sen) featured Khanna as a CBI officer. He next appeared in Anees Bazmee’s comedy No Problem, co-starring Ajay Devgn, Paresh Rawal, Kangana Ranaut, Sanjay Dutt, and Sushmita Sen. Khanna’s final film of that year was Tees Maar Khan, a slapstick comedy directed by Farah Khan and co-starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. Khanna’s role was that of a popular but greedy actor. The film was a semi-hit. at the box office, his performance earned him a nomination for the Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Male.
In 2012, Khanna starred in Gali Gali Chor Hai, an ensemble romantic comedy directed by Rumi Jaffrey and co-starring Shriya Saran and Mugdha Godse. It saw him portray the main protagonist Bharat Narayan, a simple kind-hearted person. Despite hype, Gali Gali Chor Hai received mixed to negative reviews from critics and proved to be a major financial failure. Khanna then took a long sabbatical of four years from film acting.
Work after sabbatical & Filmfare Best Actor Critics Nomination (2016–present)
Khanna made his comeback to Bollywood in 2016 with the action cop comedy Dishoom, in which he starred alongside Varun Dhawan, John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Saqib Saleem, and Tarun Khanna, playing the role of the main antagonist Wagah, a bookie who targets a top batsman (played by Saleem). The feature received mixed reviews from critics, but emerged as one of his most successful, earning over ₹1.20 billion (US$17 million) worldwide.
Ravi Udayawar’s crime thriller Mom was Khanna’s first release of 2017. Co-starring with Sridevi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sajal Ali, and Adnan Siddiqui, he received appreciation for his performance as Matthew, a CBI officer. The film narrated the story of a vigilante (played by Sridevi) who sets out to avenge the rape of her step-daughter (played by Ali). The feature garnered positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for Sridevi’s performance. With a global revenue of over ₹1.75 billion (US$25 million), it emerged as a financial success and Khanna’s biggest success of his career. Later that year, he starred as an investigative cop in Abhay Chopra’s murder-mystery Ittefaq—a remake of the 1969 film of the same name. Co-starring Sonakshi Sinha and Sidharth Malhotra, it proved to be an average grosser.
In 2019, Khanna starred in Section 375. After a long self imposed exile Akshaye Khanna back in Lead Role in Section 375 and gained Nomination for the 65th Filmfare Award Best Actor Critics and nomination for Best Actor Critics in Star Screen Awards also.