MUMBAI — With “Airlift,” Akshay Kumar has completed a hat-trick of hits with T-Series—albeit in 10 years. Before this period, they had collaborated, just for the record, on the 2006 flop “Humko Deewana Kar Gaye,” in which Anil Kapoor was the senior hero.

Akshay firmly believes that certain associations, like his combination with producer Bhushan Kumar, work wonderfully. Their three hits together are “Bhool Bhulaiyaa” (2007, but still seen on television almost every other week), “Baby” (2015) and the recent release “Airlift,” now set to be T-Series’ first 100 crore film after their 2011 co-production, “Ready.”

Both the Kumars are now on cloud nine, after the response received both from critics and audience for the second consecutive time (after “Baby”). Says the super-star, “Bhushan and I work well together. He takes care of the music and I take care of the rest.” Adds Bhushan, “For ‘Baby,’ songs were not an integral part of the narrative. However, I wanted to be associated with the film because it was a fabulous script.”

For “Airlift,” the two struck a balance. “Once again, songs were not important to this film,” says Akshay. “Yet, Bhushan found a couple of tracks that fit in and were completely unobtrusive to the narrative. Both songs are hits and I salute Bhushan for that.”

Adds Bhushan, “‘Baby’ may have done a box-office business of only 90 crore domestically, but it got me the ‘respectability of a 200 crore project. With ‘Airlift,’ the response from across the world is amazing.” He goes on, “By now, Akshay-sir and I have earned each other's trust. I'm hoping to take our association forward with many more projects.”

And Akshay responds, “Even after 26 years in the industry, these are the words I want to hear. If my producers are happy, then I am happy too. After all, my forefathers do not belong to cinema. Somewhere, deep within me, there is insecurity on whether I will find work or not. When a producer smiles and reassures me that he wants to work with me again, it makes me extremely proud. It means I am doing something right. Frankly, that's all I have wanted.”

In one week, “Airlift” has collected almost Rs 85 crore nett at the Indian box-office alone, taking its worldwide collection to beyond Rs 140 crore. And it is still going (very) strong. Though the Indian opening was a little over Rs 12 crore, collections improved by word-of-mouth through Saturday and Sunday and after a small dip on Monday, skyrocketed to Rs 17 crore plus on Republic Day, Jan. 26, both because of its patriotic theme and the public holiday.

Meanwhile, in a not-too-antagonistic development, External Affairs Ministry has pointed out the fact that the film rather sidelined their contribution in 1990, even if it was as per dramatic licenses needed for a film. Officials have pointed out that there was frenetic diplomatic activity between them and their counterparts in Jordan and Iraq before the desired objective was reached, and there were several officers who had responded to the call of Indian citizens stranded in Kuwait.

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