He is 50 but Akshay Kumar continues to defy age with his looks, physique, stunts and spirit. While he says his passion gets him going, industry experts say the fact he keeps reinventing himself with right stories has helped his success story.
The National Award-winning actor, who will soon be seen judging Star Plus' comedy show 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge', started his career in 1991 with 'Saugandh'. But it was 'Khiladi' in 1992 which eventually gave him the epithet as Bollywood's 'Khiladi'.
After establishing himself as a master of action roles, he moved into romantic and comedy zomes with films like 'Hera Pheri', 'Dhadkan', 'Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love', 'Welcome', 'Singh Is Kinng' and 'Housefull'.
His movies 'OMG: Oh My God', 'Special 26', 'Holiday', 'Airlift', 'Rustom', 'Jolly LLB 2' and the latest 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha' have only added to his list of fans.
In 26 years of his bumpy ride as an actor, Akshay has come a long way. But he says he still has the enthusiasm of a youngster whenever he takes up a new project.
"Honestly, in my head, I made my debut two weeks ago. You play the song and I will start dancing on 'Waada raha sanam' (song from 'Khiladi'). I have never lost interest and passion.
"When I say it, I mean it that age is just a number, because it has not affected anything. In my mind space, I am still the same guy," said Akshay, who grew up in Delhi's Chandni Chowk area and is proficient in martial arts.
Akshay has films like "Padman", "2.0" and "Gold" in his kitty -- each different from the other.
It is this interesting choice of movies that makes Akshay relevant in the competitive Bollywood world and makes him give younger actors a run for their money.
"It's just that the audience has woken up to him today," says filmmaker Suneel Darshan, who has worked with Akshay in 'Jaanwar', 'Andaaz', 'Ek Rishtaa', 'Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya', 'Talaash: The Hunt Begins', 'Mere Jeevan Saathi' and 'Dosti: Friends Forever'.
"With every movie he kept growing," he recounted with a smile, adding that Akshay was in a "fortunate phase" in his life.
Film business analyst Girish Johar told IANS: "Akshay Kumar has been consistently doing three to four films for the past so many years and that is a commendable feat, which no other star actor has done.
"On top of it, selecting the right stories, the right set up, the right different genres and placing them smartly takes a huge effort. He has done all this with elan and has been successful too.
"The public and trade look forward to all his films with equal excitement always. All his hardwork is bearing fruit now, and I am sure he is still not resting on his laurels... But gunning for more."
Filmmaker Farah Khan, who directed Akshay in 'Joker', told IANS: "I know Akshay since he came for 'Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar' auditions... I think he's a true survivor and a true inventor because earlier he used to do all B-grade movies at one time and then he really re-invented himself.
"He was an action hero, then he reinvented himself and became a comic hero and he did so well... Now he is doing socially relevant movies, so I think it's fabulous that he has had such a long career because when he started, he was not such a big star."
Now, while producers mostly laugh their way to banks with movies featuring Akshay, he is happy about living the "fun of getting paid for laughing" via 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge'.
Watch video: HOT! Meet 'Julie 2' sensation Raai Laxmi
Download the new mid-day android app to get updates on all the latest and trending stories on the go https://goo.gl/8Xlcvr
Mumbai Roundup: 9 incidents that took place this week
Photos: Ajay Devgn, Parineeti, Tabu at 'Golmaal Again' trailer launch
Photos: Dipika Pallikal Karthik oozes oomph in bikinis and sarees
Photos: Kareena Kapoor Khan's grand birthday bash
Photos: 'Dangal' girls Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh's dinner outing