During the promotions of his movie ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, Akshay Kumar smugly proclaimed that he had completed the opulent historical drama in just 40-42 days. Kumar has always taken pride in the fact that he completes his movies, and churns them out, at the rate of knots. The film, however, tanked miserably at the ticket counters and couldn’t even manage a half-decent initial.
Akshay’s casting and performance came in for scathing flak as the lack of preparation for the role was abundantly evident on the screen. Be it his facial expressions, physical appearance or dialogue delivery, everything smacked of utter disinterest as if he was in a tearing hurry to just wrap the film up. Made at a massive budget, ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ has entailed heavy losses for everyone associated with it.
After ‘Bell Bottom’ and ‘Bachhchan Paandey’, this is Akshay’s third disaster in a row. Even his two other films – ‘Laxmi’ and ‘Atrangi Re’ – which released on OTT platforms failed to garner the eyeballs and encomium. Now, it is not unusual for actors to deliver three unsuccessful films in a row but these three films took abysmal openings and couldn’t even cross Rs 75 crore nett in India.
Akshay has been a rare A-list star who has been featuring in four films a year from the last 20 years. This isn’t the first time he has bashed out a clutch of clunkers. Between 2009 to 2011, his 10 films – ‘Chandni Chowk To China’, ‘Blue’, ‘Kambakht Ishq’, ‘Patiala House’, ‘Thank You’, ‘Action Replayy’, ‘Desi Boyz’, ‘Tees Maar Khan’, to name a few – had come a cropper. He had endured the similar phase between 1997-1999 when his 14 films had bombed one after another. But during those times, age was on his side and he had time to script comebacks.
Now, Akshay is in his mid-50s and probably has only a few years more as a leading star. Cranking out films without worrying about the quality is no longer an option especially at a time when the taste of the audience has changed drastically after the COVID-19 pandemic. The viewers have become prudent and fastidious about the quality of films as they have so much content at their disposal on various OTT platforms. Drawing them into theatre is becoming an uphill task.
The devastating failure of his recent films have not only hurt the producers & distributors, but his equity and credibility have also taken a beating. Because of overexposure, his films are not even generating adequate buzz due to which the initials are also middling. Also, his lack of interest and efforts in the projects are also thumpingly conspicuous. He comes across as a hard-nosed mercenary who is only interested in raking in moolah by doing multiple films at a time.
And because he’s doing so many films simultaneously, he is unable to concentrate and prepare diligently for the roles. The anticipation for his upcoming films in the trade is on the lower side.
It’s not as if doing too many films hasn’t affected his standing in the past. Though he has been an A-list star, Akshay was never hailed as a superstar because even his ‘successful’ films do mostly moderate business. The box-office potential of even his good movies was always limited. On the other hand, when the content clicks, the movies of three Khans do roaring business and become the biggest blockbusters of the year.
At present, Salman has three movies in the 300 crore (nett) club and Aamir has two. Ranbir and Hrithik also feature in this enviable club. But no film of Akshay has netted more than Rs 195 crore in India. Even movies of Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor and Ajay Devgn have breached Rs 250 crore nett mark in India but Akshay hasn’t.
The scenario was the same even a few years ago. Akshay touched Rs 25 crore (nett) milestone for the first time in 2004 with ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karogi’ which had Salman in the lead. On the other hand, superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman had reached Rs 50 crore (nett) milestone wayback in 1995 and 1994 respectively. In fact, by 2004, Salman and SRK had more than 5 movies in the Rs 25 crore (nett) club. Aamir and Ajay Devgn had also attained this feat in the 1990s.
Overall, while Salman, SRK and Aamir have many films in their kitty which have garnered more than 2.5 crore footfalls; Akshay has none. Even younger stars such as Ranbir, Ranveer and Shahid have films which have over 2.5 crore footfalls.
Right now, Akshay is running on empty. The potential of his good movies is moderate, but the risk associated with his bummers is gargantuan. Will the ‘Khiladi’ rise once again from debris or his career is beyond redemption? Watch this space….