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He has a National Film Award to his name. Der aaye, durust aaye, in his own words. Akshay Kumar's award as the Best Actor this year, for his performance in Rustom, was debated discussed and post-mortemed no end. Rustom is hardly a film that could have got Akshay Kumar any award, let alone the highest film award in the country. But Akshay Kumar has somehow been the right man in the right place at the right time. You can interpret that right in your own way.

Akshay Kumar in a poster of Toilet Ek Prem Katha

Akshay Kumar is Bollywood's poster boy of patriotism. A favourite in the right circles, Akshay is careful today to not ruffle a feather. His heart bleeds for the right causes. He posts late night videos about the virtues of ayurveda. His films in the last few years, post 2015's Baby, have mostly checked some of those proper boxes: patriotism, social message, and interesting story, an Independence Day / Republic Day release, targeted at a family audience. There's hardly been an Akshay Kumar film in controversy in the recent past.

At a time when his peers in the industry - Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan - have paid a heavy price for speaking up against intolerance and communalism, Akshay has been careful to make the right statements on public platforms. He doesn't speak on divisive issues, but sticks to his patriotic image. Be it donating money to the kin of CRPF jawans martyred at the hands of the Naxals or setting up welfare funds for army widows.

Akshay's public image now has begun to be seen as a carefully constructed one: don't go wrong, don't say words that can be misconstrued. Because social media trolls, and as an extension, the 'masses' are yet to learn how to forgive actors for not echoing the popular sentiment.

Shah Rukh Khan's 2015 comment that there was 'extreme intolerance' in India not only made him retract and apologise for it, but he had to pay a price at the box office too. His films Dilwale, Fan and Raees, that happened post November 2015, have both been duds at the box office - duds by Shah Rukh Khan standards that is.

It is 2017. You can't breathe without being attacked on social media if your point of view is even a nanometre away from the 'popular' voice. Most of our actors have had to deal with a certain section of trolls on social media, especially Twitter. Not Akshay Kumar. He has always steered clear of controversial topics on Twitter. His posts have mostly been sanitised, cauterised ones, directed at being heard but not creating a ripple.

His films too, today, have begun to reflect his views somewhere. They are all clean films, and a thumbs up for that given that he is the actor who has given us misogynistic gems like Rowdy Rathore; they have all got a message of patriotism and heroism and making a sacrifice for the country all there. They are all entertainers in their own regard. They don't rub you the wrong way. Rustom, for example, focussed so much on making Akshay the patriotic hero that he had to face scathing criticism on his over-the-top 'imaandari'. He is the kind of hero who sacrifices his marriage and wife for the country. 'Raja ne rani qurbaan kar diya'. For the country.

In the trailer of his Toilet Ek Prem Katha, we see Akshay at the top of his quintessential Bharat Kumar game. The film's story revolves around the issue of open defecation, a la Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Akshay went and met the PM a few days ago, leaving Modi with a smile on his lips, his congratulations for choosing a topic like open defecation in tow. CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani has already got Akshay's back, as have his fans.

There's not one out-of-tune note in being Akshay Kumar in 2017. The predictability is painful. Maybe once in a while being a bit imperfect too is acceptable. Damn the social media.

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