Akshay had also auditioned for the role of the anti-hero in Aamir Khan's Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar in 1993 – unsuccessfully at that! He gave the screen test but apparently he was found to be “crap” and was removed. The role went on to be done by Deepak Tijori. In the early days, he had auditioned for everyone from BR Chopra, Ravi Chopra, and Raj Sippy, to Pramod Chakravorty and Salim Aftab…without much success.
With no money to fund a photoshoot for his portfolio, he would assist lensman Jay Seth for free, on the condition that one day Seth would shoot his portfolio for him.
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While the wannabes and wannashines today hang out at the Café Coffee Day and Barista outlets at Lokhandwala, during his time they would gather around Bonbon, a then famous shoe store in Seven Bungalows, Andheri. It was here, at a well-known kebab shop, that the strugglers would flock to meet the fight masters, who would take them to meet the filmmakers. Fight scenes being very big in the Eighties, there was always the chance of snagging some work.
Akshay has a seven-second long role as a Marital Arts teacher in a Mahesh Bhatt film called Aaj – no, it wasn’t snipped; he apparently actually shot for that length of time only! Incidentally, the hero of the film, Kumar Gaurav, was called Akshay. This somehow triggered something off in the then-Rajeev Bhatia’s mind, and he got his name changed legally to Akshay Kumar!
Stories of stars losing their mental balance when they lost their popularity and success, have taught him not to take stardom seriously. “Sure, they call me Khiladi viladi, and they still do. For the last 15 years in the industry, I haven't made a 'Khiladi' film, yet if I step out, people say, ‘Aye Khiladi!’ Even if I do 50 more films, that tag will remain,” he accepts. However, he believes this is a deadly industry, and can drop you at any time, which is why he constantly strives to stay grounded.