In 2012, Akshay Kumar had five releases at the box office. And four of them went on to make box office successes. The trade feels Akki is slowly but surely turning out to become the biggest star in the country. And in terms of box office figures, he is second to none.
After an average couple of years, last year proved to be the biggest year for the star in his over two decade-long career. And with Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26 releasing today, it is only going to be better from here onwards.
Akki’s recent joining hands with Karan Johar also set tongues wagging. Many eyebrows were raised at the two formidable forces in Bollywood combining their strengths. That’s not all, he is also in the process of inking multiple deals with other companies as well. Akki also has several films signed under his home production banner as well as outside.
Trade expert Amod Mehra says, “If there is anyone after the Khans, it has to be Akshay. The only difference between the Khans and Akshay is that Akshay does four to five films every year. Unlike the others, he has a fan-following from the age group of two to 60. Plus he is not as aggressive in terms of marketing and promoting his image compared to the Khans. He is a hard worker and does versatile films.”
Girish Wankhede, official spokesperson of a popular multiplex chain, says, “An Akshay Kumar film means a guaranteed box office opening and multiplex owners love him. There is nothing to worry when one of his films is about to hit the marquee. He is one actor who despite being a superstar does not shy away from experimenting with his roles. Akshay is not only versatile, he doesn’t hesitate to take risks.”
Is tying up with Karan Johar a first step in the long-term plan to build the Brand Akshay?
It’s not about that, especially with Dharma Productions. It’s about expanding both our father’s companies through the only way we know how — making honest films with honest people. It’s more about ‘How can we make our project memorable? So it’s not just another brick in the wall or a DVD on the shelf’. We’ve both made our own way in our own little worlds; we just thought that now is a good time to be on the same page.
A lot has been riding on your shoulders. Do you feel under pressure?
It’s not the money that puts the pressure. It’s the people that have it that puts the pressure. Nah, I’m kidding! The thought of pushing myself with things that are out of my control would be suicidal. I do my best, I give everything a producer could wish for and more. If my films work, it’s a blessing, if they don’t I genuinely make sure my producers don’t suffer — by making another film that would benefit them even more. I’m not an unreasonable man. If you stand by me, I’ll stand by you. Loyalty is extremely precious. And also rather rare.
Would you consider Special 26 an experiment in your career?
No. It was something I’ve waited a long time for, I knew it would be a challenge. I did it for personal reasons rather than its commercial status. I went into the project knowing I would walk away feeling like a different man. And now I feel like a different actor and that is priceless.
At this stage of your career, are you being choosy about work?
I think every actor is choosy at all points of his or her career. When people see me doing something out of my norm, it’s, ‘Oh, so you are finally doing something meaningful and different. Why now, why not years ago?’ When actually I’m just making the most of the opportunities that come my way. When this film came to me, I folded my hands in gratitude at the chance that I was being given. It wasn’t a calculated move; it was simply an honour.
How much are you creatively involved in your production company with Ashvini Yardi?
There’s no point in having a company if you can’t give your heart and soul to it. The best part about releasing a film under your banner is knowing how much care and attention you have given it. I have a great team and greater the team, greater the creativity that flows through the walls. So far it’s been a dream come true.
Akshay Kumar is a family man and is known to strike a balance as far as his personal and professional life is concerned. He says, “It’s easy. You put your family first, you can give every ounce of energy left to your work with a full heart and a clear conscience. If I knew my family was sad or is suffering, I cannot work like I do. There is no life without family. Why work this hard and ruin the only thing worth working for?”
Speaking about his four- month-old daughter Nitara, Akshay says, “I have to pry her out of the hands of all the other women in my family so that I can get my own hands on her. She’s a very happy baby. My wife (Twinkle) always says she tries so hard to please me when I come into the room. She’s all of four months but she’s all smiles and gurgles at the moment. Our home couldn’t be happier right now.”
In the last couple of years Akshay Kumar has had about eight releases. The all-India business of the films stand at:
Patiala House – Rs 28 crore
Thank You - Rs 44 crore
Desi Boys - Rs 42 crore
Housefull 2 - Rs 115 crore
Rowdy Rathore - Rs 138 crore
Joker – Rs 22 crore
OMG: Oh My God! – Rs 88 crore
Khiladi 786 – Rs 79.5 crore
Incidentally the India business of Akshay’s films so far stands at around Rs 1,960 crore in his 20-year career.
The figures are much more than any other actor in Bollywood so far.