At one time, around 1999-2000, Akshay Kumar, then a very close friend of mine, was seeing Shilpa Shetty and Twinkle Khanna simultaneously. Simply put, he was two-timing! How do I know? Because Akshay was agonizing over his dual citizenship in heartland, wondering what he should do. Main idhar jaaon ya udhar jaaon? There was little I could do to help. I mean, how do I decide who would make the perfect fit as a wife for another man?
Neither of the ladies knew about the existence of the other in Akshay’s life. I remember when Twinkle and her mother found out about Shilpa, they called up to vent. Without going into the conversation, I can only say I’ve never heard two angrier women in my life. For about a year, Akshay Kumar remained unsure about whom to marry. He fell for Shilpa Shetty while shooting for Dharmesh Darshan’s
Shilpa Shetty and Akshay Kumar
Dhadkan, and well, the same happened while he shot for International Khiladi with Twinkle Khanna.
Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna
And our conversations would almost invariably be on the burning topic of whom he should marry. By the time Akshay reached the last schedule of Khiladi 420 in Canada (a favourite shooting spot where his best friend Ajay Virmani resided), Akshay had to make up his mind.
He called me from Canada saying, “I am coming back to Bombay tonight. By the time I land I’d have made up my mind.”
It sounded like one of those red-wire-yellow-wire detonation scenes in those explosive Hollywood thrillers. I gave him the best advice I could: to think it out carefully as it involves three lives. I waited for him to land. But before he could arrive home in Mumbai (then Bombay) he called from his stopover in, I think, Dubai (or was it Singapore?).
I still remember it was around 3 am when I heard Akshay make the declaration. “I’ve made up my mind. I will marry Tina (Twinkle).” What followed was not pleasant. Dharmesh Darshan went through hell trying to complete Dhadkan. In a honeymoon sequence, that he shot with Akshay and Shilpa (how she must have cringed while shooting it!), Dharmesh was asked to cut out a kiss between the couple. The director obliged.
Mrs Khanna wouldn’t like. It’s nice to see Akshay and Shilpa in happy marriages today. Shilpa couldn’t stop hating me for years. She felt I abetted his crime of the heart. Perhaps I did.