August 13, 2002 
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Akshay Kumar
Akshay's new mantra
Starts with Priyanka and Lara!

Subhash K Jha

While the industry goes through a prolonged depression, Akshay Kumar seems to be doing very well for himself. Two of his films with director Suneel Darshan, Talaash and Mere Jeevan Saathi, with the Kapoor sisters, Kareena and Karisma respectively, are on the verge of completion.

"Both will be out by the end of this year," promises Akshay, as he lounges in his newly remodelled home in Andheri (a Mumbai suburb).

Wife Twinkle is still asleep. The Bhatias (Akshay's real name is Rajiv Bhatia) are expecting their first child in September. And Akshay makes sure that not a leaf stirs in their beautifully decorated home. "All this is done by my wife," he says proudly. Twinkle's talents as an interior decorator are on display --- every piece of furniture and artifact has been chosen by her.

At the moment, Akshay prepares to leave for a month-long shooting schedule abroad. "Andaz is produced by my friend Suneel Darshan and directed by Raj Kanwar. Raj had been persuading me to do a film for a long time. He came to me with two or three scripts. This one grabbed my attention right away. We are working towards completing the film in the next two to three months," Akshay reveals.

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He says this will be his method of working from now. "One film at a time. That is how I will allot dates from now on. Andaz is a love triangle with a difference. My two heroines are [former] Miss World Priyanka Chopra and [former] Miss Universe Lara Dutta."

This is the first film that brings the two beauty queens together. At one time, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali had toyed with the idea of casting another Miss World-Miss Universe pair, Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai, as Chandramukhi and Paro in his magnum opus Devdas.

"They [Chopra and Dutta] are very nice girls and I am looking forward to working with them," Akshay says. Since the actor proved lucky for model-turned-actress Bipasha Basu in Ajnabee, will he be lucky for Chopra and Dutta too? "I hope so," grins Akshay. "They are both hardworking and talented. They don't need me to make it big."

After Vipul Shah's Aankhen and Vikram Bhatt's Awaara Pagal Deewana, Akshay gears up for his third release this year, Raj Kumar Kohli's Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, which opens August 16.

"Jaani Dushman was supposed to release last year. I do not play a pivotal role in the film, but I am there almost till the end. I did the film out of goodwill for Rajji. He's a great man. I didn't even ask him about my role. Rajji and his wife, Nishi Aunty, are like family. Their son Munish is making a comeback as a hero and I want to support his efforts."


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