In the 2013 action comedy Boss, one of the many enjoyable scenes is a chase sequence where our hero - Akshay Kumar a.k.a. "Boss" - escapes his pursuers by running over, under, around, and through the streets and buildings of Chandni Chowk. This style of running also known as parkour.
Le Parkour - "the art of moving" - is a holistic fitness training method which focuses on movement in both natural and urban environments. It developed from military obstacle course training. The focus is to move elegantly and with efficiency from point A to point B while using only your body and the surroundings to propel yourself. It requires speed, agility, and an understanding of your own strengths.
Two things make this scene in Boss stand out - the star Akshay Kumar and the neighborhood of Chandni Chowk.
The Boss of Parkour: Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar is known for his martial arts skills and fitness level, but he is also a major parkour fan and practitioner. In a DNA interview, Akshay Kumar explained that parkour is his preferred workout regime:
“When you work out in a gym, each exercise only focuses on a certain body part. Parkour is a complete work-out and it’s fun, so yes I do prefer it over working out in a gym,” explains Akshay.
While his fitness regime doesn't necessarily focus on weight-lifting or repetitive exercises, Akshay Kumar does employ routine in his life by watching what he eats, making sure he gets enough sleep, and exercising daily. But exercise is more like play for the action hero. The Times of India explains:
When he gets up, Akshay heads for his gym, which is more like his playground. He has no set routine and just plays around for an hour or hour-and-a-half. "I am an energy junkie. I live off positive energy and challenging experiences. Anything that can inspire and push my body," he says.
So he climbs trees or a specially designed 30-foot indoor climbing wall with his son, practises yoga or Parkour or martial arts or hangs off a 13-storey building. "Please, please write that you should not try this without supervision," he says hastily, "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if someone tried to replicate this because of me and got hurt." He says he likes to test his strength and fears at every stage. "I like to have control over every muscle in my body. All of these activities develop the core. It's so good to do something every day that pumps your heart out of your chest; makes you feel alive."
Parkour is so much a part of Akshay Kumar's fitness regime that he has a personal parkour gym in his 3-story Lokhandwala apartment. The award-winning gym was built by German sports architect Daniel Dressen and it took a month to convert the three-story apartment into a fully-functioning facility. The studio was described in a CNN article:
Among other elements, the facility has a 26-feet tall climbing wall that works on Kumar's sinuous appeal. On the third story roof terrace, there are three platforms for the actor to practice the quintessential action-film move -- jumping from one roof to another.
For its aesthetic and innovative combining of fitness and parkour elements, the gym won an international sports architecture award last year, alongside other, more large-scale sports setups like the Beijing Olympics Tennis Centre.
Akshay Kumar has also used parkour techniques in the film Singh is Kinng.
Chandni Chowk: Childhood Home of Akshay Kumar
Located in Delhi, Chandni Chowk - originally meaning moonlit square or market - is one of the oldest and busiest markets in India. Built in 17th century by the Muslim Emperor Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahan Ara, the market was once divided by canals to reflect moonlight.
According to Chandni Chowk online:
Chandni Chowk runs through the middle of the walled city, from the Lahori Darwaza (Lahore Gate) of the Red Fort to Fatehpuri Masjid. Originally, a canal ran through the middle of the street as a part of the water supply scheme.
With the most famous mosque of Delhi, Jama Masjid, built in 1650 in the vicinity, it is an unusual street that has several famous religious shrines, belonging to different religions, that coexist, lending the street a genuine cultural harmony.
On both sides of Chandni Chowk are historical residential areas served by narrow lanes. Akshay Kumar was raised in this area. Though often portrayed in films as a neighbourhood populated by a lower-class population, Chandni Chowk is shown to be a rich, cultural hub.
According to Bollywood Celebden, the location Akshay Kumar brought back vivid memories of growing up:
“We were shooting for a scene in Chandni Chowk and it was hardly some 200 metres away from Akshay’s old house. That was the place where he grew up…Akshay Kumar wanted a glimpse of his old house as he hadn’t visited the place for a few years now.
“But it was impossible for him to reach his old house in Chandni Chowk in the day as he would get mobbed by the crowd. So one early morning, at 4 a.m., Akshay Kumar drove the car himself and went outside his house, stood there for 30 minutes and relived the old happy days,” said the source.
The combination of visiting your old neighborhood and having permission to parkour through the streets at full throttle must have given Akshay Kumar quite a emotional high.
At least that's what it looks like, because Akshay Kumar is smiling throughout the chase. While it is in the nature of his character to do so, you can't help but think that he is also having a blast.
The following playlist features the Chandni Chowk chase scene from Boss, several advertisements with Akshay Kumar doing parkour (including one with Telugu film star Mahesh Babu). The final two videos offer a look at the superstar's parkour home gym.
If you liked this, check out some of our other Akshay Kumar posts.