Akshay Kumar’s eligibility for National Award questioned, old video calling ‘Toronto is my home’ gone viral

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Mumbai: Actors Kareena Kapoor and Akshay Kumar seen at Madh Jetty, Mumbai on April 6, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

A day after Akshay Kumar issued a statement regarding the controversy over his citizenship, an old video of the Bollywood actor went viral on social media where he is calling Toronto as his home.

The “Khiladi” star, who was roped in as the brand ambassador for Canadian tourism in India in 2010, on May 3 had released a statement on his official Twitter account about his Canadian citizenship and had said that he did not understand the negativity and “unwarranted interest” around the subject.

The old video, which had also surfaced last year following films on patriotic and social themes he had starred in, was shared by a user against the backdrop of Akshay’s statement. It showed him addressing the crowd at an event in Canada: “I must tell you one thing; this is my home. Toronto is my home. After I retire from the film industry, I’m going to come back and stay here.”

While some social media users defended the actor, some branded him a “hypocrite” and a “fake nationalist”.

Some even questioned him holding a Canadian passport.

A user tweeted: “You live in India, work in India, earn in India, wear in India and swear by in India. What made you not want to have an Indian passport?”

His absence from the polling booth made netizens think that it was due to his alleged Canadian citizenship.

In 2017, Akshay had told a Tv channnel that he has been given an honorary citizenship by the Canadian Government, and hence, he carries the Canadian citizenship. He has said in interviews that he will split time between India and Canada after he retires.

Akshay, who recently grabbed headlines for his “non-political” interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was widely trolled for not casting his vote this year.

The actor has featured in many films such as “Kesari”, “Baby”, “Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty” and “Airlift”, with patriotism as the theme.

Akshay Kumar, who said he has Canadian citizenship, was questioned on social media about winning the National Award. However, filmmaker Rahul Dholakia supported the actor and said that “foreign nationals can get National Awards”

On Saturday, several social media users including National award-winning film editor and writer Apurva Asrani questioned Akshay on being a National Award-winner.

Asrani tweeted: “Are Canadian citizens eligible for India’s National Awards? The year (2016) Akshay Kumar won ‘Best Actor’, we were expecting Manoj Bajpayee to win for ‘Aligarh’. If the jury/ministry has made an error in Kumar’s case, will there be a revote.”

New Delhi: Actor Akshay Kumar addresses during the promotions of their upcoming film “Kesari” in New Delhi, on March 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

However following the rulebook of the Directorate of Film Festivals, the organisation that presents the National Film Awards, under the section of eligibility of a candidate it reads: “Film professionals and technicians of foreign origin can also be considered for awards.”

Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia, who has also been part of the jury of the National Film Awards earlier, took to Twitter to clarify the matter.

Sharing a screenshot of the rulebook, he wrote: “Clarification on National Award — foreign nationals can get National Awards. it’s legal, legit and by the books have been on the jury (not for this one) and so found out from an official Manoj Srivastava who sent me this.”

Akshay was honoured with the “Best Actor Award” for “Rustom” in 2016.

Earlier this week, the “Khiladi” star faced flak on social media after he interviewed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was also criticised for talking about patriotism despite not being an Indian citizen.

On Friday, expressing his disappointment over the criticism, Akshay released a statement about his Canadian citizenship and said that he did not understand the negativity and “unwarranted interest” around the subject.