New Delhi: Road to success is always under construction. The connotation of success is relative. For some, success equals money and fame, for others it means achieving respect. While there are others who try corroborate success with small happiness. There are, yet who fail to gain success despite achieving a lot. Despite all odds, the road to success is challenging and adventurous. Sharing his adventurous journey to the abode of success with Sakhi is Bollywood Khiladi Akshay Kumar.

‘The journey from Rajeev Bhatia to Akshay Kumar was not a cakewalk’

After 20 years of hard-work and experience I do realize that that reaching to the zenith of success is a herculean task and it requires a lot of patience. I suppose, at this juncture of my life, I can proudly say that I am a successful man. From the past two-three years I have been pondering over my life’s journey and thinking to jot down the experiences into a biography titled ‘Aise bana Rajeev Bhatia se main Akhsay Kumar’.  In this memorable journey, the immense help which I received from many quarters made me the person I am today. I am nothing without those helpful hands and my success story remains incomplete without crediting them.

My father Hari Om Bhatia: Without my father’s support and blessings I could not have reached where I am today. I got bitten by the bug of acting while I was in Bangkok working as a chef. I left my job and came to Delhi. My father used to work with UNICEF here. But he was burdened with many responsibilities. So, I tried not to bother him with my monetary requirements. He encouraged me in every step of my life.

Chakki Da: When I came to Mumbai to pursue my dream I had no acquaintances here except one or two friends on whom I could bank upon. I thought, what is the harm in trying my luck in Bollywood. If destiny favours me then I may become a hero and if I fail then I can always turn back to my previous profession as a chef. It is then that I met Chakki Da, the famous film producer Pramod Chakraborty who later cast me in his film Deedar opposite Karishma Kapoor, who was one of the hit and hot actresses then. When I went to meet her for the first time, I was out of my nerves.

Jayesh Seth: I have toiled hard to make a strong foothold in film industry. I met photographer Jayesh in Mumbai and worked with him as an assistant. He was my friend, philosopher and guide. One day he said to me, “Rajeev, why don’t you shave your mustache and trim your hair. Long hair and moustache do not suit you. You have no style of your own; you should develop your own style.” At that time I could not understand why such an acclaimed photographer was unhappy with my style. Me being a Punjabi, I always used to take pride in my moustache. I did not pay any heed to his advice. Then one fine day he again said, “Rajiv why don’t you go to producer Shasilal Nayar’s office, his place is located in the building where you reside.”

I replied that I have met him several times but each time he sent him away saying that ‘come with a portfoilio’. At that time, I neither had the money nor the information how to get my portfolio clicked. I only hoped that Jayesh would someday himself offer to shoot my portfolio and déjà vu. It happened that day itself. I just mentioned it to him and he agreed with a smile.

Donned many hats: While treading on the road to success I had to don many hats. I worked as an agent and sold flats, as a salesman, as a poster-model for a local gym in Lokhandwala. The last assignment fetched me Rs 5000 by which I joined dance-acting classes. I used to try new stunts every day. One day while I was practising a stunt, Jayesh clicked my photograph and thanks to his good contacts the pic got published in a magazine. That was my first taste of success which got me so excited that

I showed the magazine to all my friends. Little did I know then that the particular pic would fetch me a lead role in Bollywood.

Jacky encouraged me a lot: Jayesh started taking me to photo sessions and media houses. Once he took me to the sets of a film starring Jackie Shroff and Dimple Kapadia. At that time, I had never ever imagined that one day I would become beautiful Dimple’s son-in-law. It is all about destiny. During the shooting, I met Jackie Shroff. He told me, “You should be in front of the camera.” When I replied that I am just Jayesh sir’s assistant, he said with a smile, “Your day will also come and you will achieve what you want.”

Success came closer: Jackie Shroff was right. One sudden day, I received a call from Chakki da’s office and he informed me that I had passed the screen-test for the lead role in ‘Deedar’. After this, I got many offers but unfortunately my films flopped at the box-office. After every flop, I started going to Mata’s Darbaar barefoot. Belief in devotion gave me strength to carry on after every flop and finally I got ‘Khiladi’ which proved to be a super-duper hit film. This film filled my life with colours and my Bollywood career just set off from there and I never looked back. My stint with success started with ‘Khiladi’ and I am still trying to retain that. But for me, the genuine taste of success is that happiness which one gets after insurmountable hard-work and overcoming all odds.

JPN/Sakhi