Akshay Kumar vs Vivek Oberoi: Who Gets the Most “Non-Political” Points This Election Season?


Akshay Kumar vs Vivek Oberoi: Who Gets the Most “Non-Political” Points This Election Season?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

How do you know when a Bollywood celebrity is apolitical? They’ll scream it from the rooftops of social media… and then immediately suffer a bout of amnesia, which will eventually lead them to click a selfie with the politician du jour, and then star in a “non-political” biopic. As the events of the past few months prove, this is now a tried-and-tested route immortalised by the biggest actors in Bollywood and Vivek Oberoi.

But Akshay Kumar – part-time khiladi and full-time ruling party side-chick – isn’t one to play by the rules, especially one set by any actor with a lower box-office collections than him. So even as Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal, and Alia Bhatt went around town labelling themselves “apolitical”, Kumar continued to star in films that were essentially love letters to patriotism and policy. Because, in Kumar’s world, “A patriotic film is worth a thousand apolitical declarations.”

Khiladis don’t just talk, they act. So naturally, when Vivek Oberoi – last offered a leading role when Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister – decided to shoulder the burden of shooting a biopic on a sitting PM and having it (almost) released a week before elections, Kumar wasn’t threatened.

Oberoi on the other hand, was overjoyed at the possibility of finally reclaiming his limelight in Bollywood, now that he didn’t have to worry about Salman Khan, who is busy with next magnum opus, Bharat. As it looked a month ago, Oberoi could have very well been the actor cementing Bollywood’s desire to be in an exclusively monogamous relationship with politics. Except, he ended up getting penalised for not taking Political Science seriously as a student by the Election Commission who stalled the release of his PM Narendra Modi for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

On his part though, Oberoi went all in: He wore 15 wigs, memorised monologues, and undertook coaching classes to learn how to spot the camera and do justice to playing the Prime Minister. He even gave multiple interviews endorsing his own opinion of how his acting was on par with the late Heath Ledger’s, and made it to the list of BJP’s star campaigners in Gujarat. But in the end, as Linkin Park wisely opined, it doesn’t even matter.

At 9 am today, Akshay Kumar did something that Oberoi could have never envisioned

At 9 am today, Akshay Kumar did something that Oberoi could have never envisioned: The actor brought the camera to 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, role-playing as the PM’s biggest nemesis – an interviewer. If there is one thing that Oberoi can only lose at, it’s good acting.

The result was an hour-long Splitsvilla date where Akshay Kumar behaved like every Delhi dude trying to curb the urge to break out into “Lamberghini” and instead ask sincere, romantic questions like, “Aapka fashion aapne khud ne kiya hai?” With his evocative questions like, “Narendra Modiji ko jab zukam lagta hai tab kya karte hain?” he managed to do what no other non-political actor thought of doing. He got the Prime Minister to open up about things that will be trivia questions on Kaun Banega Crorepati 10 years from now.

Kumar flitted through topics for his questions faster than a millennial jumps to conclusions. At one point, he seemed excessively invested in knowing what the most expensive thing at a Prime Minister’s house is, and then in the next moment asked him point-blank to divulge his bank account status. So obviously, thanks to his incredibly low attention span, we’re now armed with a whole bunch of “chutkules” about Mamata Banerjee winning over friends with gifts (she apparently hand-picks kurtas for the PM); Barack Obama being an advocate for a six-hour sleep cycle; PM Modi being a disruptor when it comes to wearing watches; and that the easiest way to cancel out Aladdin and his genie is through sheer hard work.

So by chairing the year’s most “non-political” interview, smack dab in the middle of the most political season ever, surrounded by peacocks who were definitely lip-syncing to the tunes of “Main Khiladi Tu Anari”, Kumar proved that he is the ultimate apolitical khiladi. After all, it takes real talent to get the most sought-after leader ahead of election season to agree for an interview with someone who’s not even an Indian citizen but the Canadian ambassador of martial arts. In your face, Vivek Oberoi.

As a woke liberal, you might complain that none of the revelations that the PM made today had any bearing on the elections in any way. No one cares about what you think. Here’s what really matters: Kumar now has enough to make his next patriotic film. It is titled Chowkidar: Ek PR Katha. And Vivek Oberoi’s biopic? It might meet the same fate as his political dreams.