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NEW DELHI : Actor Akshay Kumar seems to have responded to all social media trolls questioning his nationalist integrity in one go. The 52-year-old star of patriotic films, who was criticized for possessing a Canadian passport, said he will soon have an Indian passport.

“It hurts me that I need to hold a piece of paper to prove my nationalism, but for whatever it’s worth, I have applied for an Indian passport and will soon have one," the actor said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Friday.

He added that he decided to get a Canadian passport in the late 1990s when several of his films had flopped and he was looking to migrate to Canada to work. Soon after, however, his box office fortunes improved and he stayed back in India. “Both my wife and son are also Indians, when I could have gotten them Canadian citizenship," Kumar said.

The debate on his nationalist credential assumes significance in the light of Kumar’s on- and off-screen image. In the past five years, he has played the lead role in seven films centered on the theme of nationalism—his Independence Day release this year, Mission Mangal, saw him play a space scientist. Other hits include war epic Kesari ( 151.87 crore), Gold ( 102.01 crore), Pad Man ( 78.22 crore), Toilet: Ek Prem Katha ( 132.07 crore), Rustom ( 124.45 crore), Airlift ( 123.46 crore) and Baby ( 81.83 crore).

Kumar has been vocal about several issues. In 2017, he launched a website and mobile app, Bharat Ke Veer, for raising donations for the families of martyred soldiers. He has also posted videos advocating self-defence for women. In the run-up to the general elections, he had interviewed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a variety of issues.

At the HT event, Kumar said actors need not stick to one particular image. While his last release was Housefull 4, his next is comedy drama Good Newwz, scheduled to hitthe screens later this month. Next year, he plays a transgender in Laxxmi Bomb, a horror comedy that is a remake of Tamil film Kanchana.

Together with Good Newwz co-star Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kumar denied reports of female actors not finding equal opportunities in Bollywood.

“Of course, I would want to be paid as much as Akshay," Kapoor Khan joked. “But that (gender disparity) doesn’t exist in the industry anymore."

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