Hindi movie actor Akshay Kumar on Tuesday announced that he has renounced his Canadian citizenship and once again become an Indian national.
Kumar, born Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia in Amritsar in 1967, posted on his X and Instagram handles: “Dil aur citizenship, dono Hindustani”.
Kumar became a Canadian citizen in the 1990s. He had claimed that a series of career setbacks in the 1990s made him consider immigrating to Canada.
Despite becoming a Canadian citizen, the actor continued to live in Mumbai and appear in as well as produce a series of films. These include several nationalistic films in which he has played a patriot saving India from terrorists or external attacks.
Kumar’s publicly-displayed patriotism despite carrying a Canadian passport has led to him being trolled as “Canada Kumar”.
Kumar is also a vocal votary of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government, declaring his support for its policies through his social media handles.
In 2019, Kumar had conducted a now-infamous interview with Modi, asking him about his love for mangoes, among other things. Yet, Kumar could not vote in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that re-elected Modi as the prime minister because of his Canadian citizenship.
In 2011, Kumar had campaigned for Stephen Harper, who was then the Canadian prime minister, to drum up support for the Conservative Party of Canada leader among the Indian-origin community.
According to a report in 2019 from the Canadian newspaper National Post, Canadian legislator Tony Clement said the citizenship was like a gift for Kumar’s promotion of Canadian trade and tourism.
“Basically, he had offered to put that star power to use to advance Canada-India relations, our trade relations, our commercial relations, in the movie sector, in the tourism sector,” Clement told National Post. “He earned it … He has a great attachment to Canada as well as India, so he was doing all this free work.”
At a public event in 2019, Kumar said that he was pained at being asked to prove his loyalty to India.
Stating that he had applied for an Indian passport, Kumar added: “I am an Indian and it hurts me that I am asked to prove that every time. My wife, my children are Indian. I pay my taxes here and my life is here.”