Brace yourselves. 2006 is where it starts to get really bad. I like to ignore the no doubt purely coincidental fact that his worst hairstyles appear in projects released after I started watching Hindi films.
36 China Town 2006
This particular version of "short" neither offends me nor lights my fire. He plays a gruff detective, so it seems sensible enough.
However, all is not well if you look closely. Please note the top of his head and remember what it looks like, because in a few more movies something really strange is going to be in full swing.
Also enjoy the ninjas! At least, I think they're ninjas, even though this film is set in China town.
Shaadi Se Pehle 2006
My own bangs do this in summer humidity or winter wind: one moment they're safely off to the side, then they form their own little camp and start to migrate across my forehead, and finally they end up all splayed out every which way. Somewhere on that journey they actually do what they're supposed to but that never lasts very long. You'd think with movie industry-strength product they could get the front of his hair to do whichever of these looks is the one they intend, but apparently not. Hey, at least the mullet seems to be gone for good.
Kanan, these next two are for you.
Should I make a joke about wanting to swing with Akshaye? No?
Of course, there's always the option to just slap on a hat or five.
Aap Ki Khatir 2006
Leggy bangs again.
I don't know if this photo is actually a still from the film or if it's a production shot, but I like it better. This is nice hair to ruffle. The above picture looks a little crunchy.
This, however, is awful. What is it about this particular haircut, foreshadowed in 36 China Town, that makes his head look like a brick turned on its end? Shorter and longer cuts are much more flattering, but somehow the geometry here is all off.
The whole howlarious title song can be seen here, but it's not for the faint of heart, even if it is purelyvtongue-in-cheek.
Oh thank god someone got the razor out. This is nice. Anyone who has read my copious odes to Shashi's masala waves and Abhishek in the Jhoom Barabar Jhoom/headband phase will not be surprised to hear me say that my personal preference is for longer hair, but this is flattering and smart.
No side-tracking. The internet has spoken: when in doubt, buzz cut.
Gandhi My Father 2007
The only picture I can find of the real Harilal Gandhi shows him older and with much shorter hair, but as I recall there seemed to be a lot of effort put into the period appearances of this film overall, so I'll assume this is based on something. It seems a little small to be negative about the hairstyles in a period piece about a capital-S Serious Subject, so I will just include these pictures and move on.
Flattering to his cheekbones and nose, though.
Aaja Nachle 2007
There's nothing about his part in this film that I don't love: great role, great performance, and whoever styled him made him look adult and appropriate. His hair looks waaaay better than Madhuri's soccer mom-ish layers (even if her style is appropriate to her character, which I think you could argue effectively).
....And then everything went down the toilet. Hands-down, this is the ugliest haircut I've ever seen on him (and I have stared at a lot of photos of Akshaye Khanna in the last five years).
Again with the crunchy, spindly bangs.
The contrast with Saif's hair doesn't help: Saif has oodles of hair on top and the stubble adds shape to his jawline, whereas poor Akshaye has somehow become a giant forehead and chin. Like this:
Photo credits: Akshaye top, Akshaye bottom, Bert.
Luck by Chance 2009
The latest film I've seen Akshaye in is almost a year and a half old at this point, but I'm just grateful not to have Race as my most recent impression. This is enh. I wish he, or whoever is in charge of his overall look in films, would go back to the short hair.
Sorry for the speckled screen captures. Not sure why my viewer didn't like this DVD.
So what does it all mean? Is there a correlation between the haircut and the quality of the role? Let's see. Very short hair gives us Dil Chahta Hai, Bollywood/Hollywood, Hungama, Salaam-e-Ishq, and Aaja Nachle. Fairly short but with bangs of some sort or other is seen in Humraaz, Deewangee, Hulchul, 36 China Town, Race, and Luck by Chance. Longer all over is from pre-2000 and possibly Shaadi Se Pehle and Gandhi My Father, though for all I know those are wigs. I think the lesson here, momentarily putting aside the option of a time machine, is that the shorter the better, though that's no guarantee. But don't you worry. I'm not going to leave you with meh and inconclusive analysis- not during Khanna-o-Rama! Instead, please enjoy some more shots of the crowd-pleasing short hair.
And for tons more pictures and actual news of what he's up to these days, read All about Akshaye, who puts my fan efforts to shame!*
Images are courtesy of the sites they link to. I thought I had screen caps for most of these films but apparently not!
(Click for part 1 and 2 of this series.)
* Though don't read too closely or you might learn that one of the traits he appreciates in a woman is silence. Channeling my best Dianne Wiest/Helen Sinclair impression..."Don't...speak...."