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Akshay Kumar Image Credit: AFP

Akshay Kumar, who said he has Canadian citizenship, was questioned on social media about winning the Indian National Award. However, filmmaker Rahul Dholakia supported the actor and said that “foreign nationals can get National Awards”

On Saturday, several social media users including National Award-winning film editor and writer Apurva Asrani questioned Kumar on being a National Award-winner.

“Are Canadian citizens eligible for India’s National Awards? The year [2016] Akshay Kumar won ‘Best Actor’, we were expecting Manoj Bajpayee to win for ‘Aligarh’. If the jury/ministry has made an error in Kumar’s case, will there be a revote,” tweeted Asrani.

However, following the rule book of the Directorate of Film Festivals, the organisation that presents the National Film Awards, under the section of eligibility of a candidate it reads: “Film professionals and technicians of foreign origin can also be considered for awards.”

Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia, who has also been part of the jury of the National Film Awards earlier, took to Twitter to clarify the matter.

Sharing a screenshot of the rule book, he wrote: “Clarification on National Award — foreign nationals can get National Awards. it’s legal, legit and by the books have been on the jury (not for this one) and so found out from an official Manoj Srivastava who sent me this.”

Kumar was honoured with the Best Actor Award for ‘Rustom’ in 2016.

Earlier this week, the ‘Khiladi’ star faced flak on social media after he interviewed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was also criticised for talking about patriotism despite not being an Indian citizen.

On Friday, expressing his disappointment over the criticism, Kumar released a statement about his Canadian citizenship and said that he did not understand the negativity and “unwarranted interest” around the subject.

Meanwhile, an old video of the Bollywood actor on social media in which he is calling Toronto his home has gone viral.

The old video, which had also surfaced last year following films on patriotic and social themes he had starred in, was shared by a user against the backdrop of Akshay’s statement. It showed him addressing the crowd at an event in Canada: “I must tell you one thing; this is my home. Toronto is my home. After I retire from the film industry, I’m going to come back and stay here.”

While some social media users defended the actor, some branded him a “hypocrite” and a “fake nationalist”.

Some even questioned him holding a Canadian passport.

“You live in India, work in India, earn in India, wear in India and swear by India. What made you not want to have an Indian passport?,” one user asked.

His absence from the polling booth made netizens think that it was due to his alleged Canadian citizenship.

In 2017, Kumar had told a TV channel that he has been given an honorary citizenship by the Canadian Government, and hence, he carries the Canadian citizenship. He has said in interviews that he will split time between India and Canada after he retires.

Kumar, who recently grabbed headlines for his “non-political” interview with Modi, was widely trolled for not casting his vote this year.

‘Rang De Basanti’ actor Siddharth also took a dig at him.

“Hey Donald Trump, since you are getting ready to be re-elected soon, might I suggest an interview with me during your elections? I have crucial questions about how you eat fruit, your sleep and work habits and also your cute personality,” he tweeted on Friday night. “I have an Indian passport. Direct message me please.”

Though Siddharth did not mention Kumar’s name, several social media users connected the dots.

One commented: “Sorry Sid! The Canadian may beat you to it! Shorter flying time.”

Another wrote: “Wow Sid ji. What a hard hitting dig at Akshay Kumar. Good that everybody should stick to their role and not in others.”

Kumar has featured in many patriotic films such as ‘Kesari’, ‘Baby’, ‘Holiday — A Soldier Is Never Off Duty’ and ‘Airlift’.