Why Has Akshay Kumar’s Films Flopping At The Box Office Become A National Debate?
Akshay Kumar’s films flopping at the box office one after the other have almost become a national debate. Considered the most bankable star with a golden phase at the box office, he delivered back-to-back hits like Airlift, Housefull 3, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Padman, Rustom, Jolly LLB 2, Gold, 2.0, Kesari, Mission Mangal, Housefull 4 and Good News in 2016. This made for 12 hits in a row, only five less than his father-in-law Rajesh Khanna, who gave 17 hits between 1969-1971.
Five of Akshay’s films after 2019 turned out to be box office duds – Bell Bottom (2021), Suryavanshi (2021), Bachchan Pandey (2022), Samrat Prithviraj (2022), and Raksha Bandhan (2022) could not even hit Rs 100 crore mark. Bachchan Pandey collected Rs 49.98 crore in India, Samrat Prithviraj managed to earn Rs 68.05 crore domestically, and Raksha Bandhan made only Rs 34.47 crore.
So, what went wrong?
Talking about Akshay’s films flopping at the box office, Mumbai-based veteran film exhibitor Manoj Desai, who owns one of the most iconic theatres in the city, Maratha Mandir told Bollywood Hungama, “Content galat, subject galat (the content of his films is not good enough)”. He then recalled how Kumar had visited Gaiety before the release of Bachchan Pandey and added, “Picture Banai, Kya Banai? Kya Kar Rahe hai? (What film has he made, what is he doing?)”
Desai also spoke about why he thinks Anand L Rai’s Raksha Bandhan did not appeal to the masses. “Aapney ( Akshay Kumar) Raksha Bandhan Banai usmai public bilkul satisfied aapkey content se nahi thi. Ussi Tarah Laal Singh Chaddha ke content se bhi public bilkul satisfied nahi thi (The public is not satisfied with films like Raksha Bandhan and Laal Singh Chaddha).”
The other factor is that the audience has evolved. Two years of lockdown due to COVID-19 changed the taste of the Indian audience, who were exposed to good content and good cinema. With ample time on their hands, they got to explore beyond Bollywood. They got used to more mature and intelligent content and now they are expecting the same from Hindi films, while Bollywood continues to churn out the same old stuff.
What is important in Akshay Kumar’s context is that he has taken ownership of the flops.
In a recent interview, Akshay Kumar said, “If my films are not working, it is our fault, it is my fault. I have to make the changes; I have to understand what the audience wants. I want to dismantle my way of working and think about what kind of films I should be doing. Nobody else is to be blamed but me.”
As for the standing jokes about the number of films he does in a year, it is a well-known fact that the actor is extremely disciplined and does not waste hours on the set, which enables the timely completion of his films.
His next theatrical release of the year is Ram Setu, a mythological adventure film directed by Abhishek Sharma .