sooryavanshi

Akshay Kumar in “Sooryavanshi.” (Publicity Photo)

MUMBAI — “Bellbottom” will no longer release on July 28 but will look for a date in August, assuming an “un-lockdown.” What is 100 percent certain is that, like Akshay Kumar’s “Sooryavanshi,” which is holding on since March 2020, it will not release on a streaming service. Buzz also is that the film has been converted into the 3-D format,

Kumar’s other releases to come are Aanand L. Rai’s “Atrangi Re” and “Raksha Bandhan,” Aditya Chopra’s “Prithviraj,” Farhad Samji’s “Bachchan Pandey,” Abhishek Sharma’s “Ram Setu” and Ashwin Varde’s production “OMG—Oh My God 2.” A few more projects are already in the pipeline—including a project with Vipul Amrutlal Shah, an old favorite of Kumar, and will be announced soon. He also has his Amazon Prime Video series, “The End.

The Numero Uno hero? Of course!

As trade analyst Taran Adarsh told a section of the media, “He has got the most impressive line-up. And the best thing about him is that he completes the film on time and also he ensures that those films release on time. “Bellbottom” was one of the first films to be shot during the pandemic. It was completed in record time. He also shot for “Bachchan Pandey,” completed “Atrangi Re” and I believe is about to finish “Prithviraj.” Since his films have been held up due to the lockdown, all these releases will come out as a savior to the film industry.”

Adarsh added, “He is the one who has a good lineup, besides of course the South industry, which seems ready to bounce back. So I’d like to put Akshay Kumar and the South industry in the same bracket and their films will act as saviors. This is especially for the exhibition sector, which is already bleeding and still in the ICU. Exhibitors need help and if these films help restart the exhibition sector, then that would be great.”

Another exhibitor terms Kumar the ATM machine of the Hindi entertainment industry. Kumar shoots at a fast pace in an organized manner, so organized it can confuse the student of Hindi cinema and has proved wrong the maxim that quantity affects quality. His roles too are varied—right now, he is playing an Indian spy, an ATS officer, a Rajput emperor, God, an elder brother, an archeologist and a gangster who aspires to be an actor among others.

Chameleonic roles, moderate budgets, entertainment as the “mantra”—Kumar’s credo leads to profits for his filmmakers—even in a film gone wrong like “Laxmii.” The revival of the exhibition sector and the industry will thus see the actor (who completes 30 years this year as far as being a leading man is concerned) playing a vital role.

Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Ayushmann Khurrana, Ranbir Kapoor and Varun Dhawan will have to change their ways and follow Kumar’s golden path to rescue a beleaguered industry. As of now, only Ajay Devgn seems to be anywhere close with a variety of films and roles—as well as a web series.

A lot of money is riding on Kumar as all these are expensive films at a rough estimate of Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 crore per film. Adarsh continues, “That’s a substantial amount. But more importantly, Akshay’s professional attitude is coming as a savior. Even during pre-Covid times, he used to have 3 or 4 releases in a year.”

It is said that Kumar’s annual contribution is nearly a fifth of the total earnings of the industry, making him a mini-industry by himself. As Adarsh puts it, “He has given audiences a wide variety to choose from. It’s a very good sign. When you go to a restaurant, don’t you like to have different kinds of meals to satiate your taste buds? Likewise, you must give moviegoers different kinds of cinema. If you start repeating yourself, you tend to lose your charm. Your fans will still patronize you but after a point, even they’ll say, ‘Yaar ab kuch naya chahiye (Now we want something new)’.”

The fact remains that Kumar is the only hero, who, pre-“Laxmii,” had no flop despite multiple releases in a year, after mid-2015’s “Brothers.” No star has a similar record at the box-office, and his last disaster was way back in 2012—“Joker,” which was a year in which he had super-hits in “Rowdy Rathore” and “OMG—Oh My God.” That is nearly a decade back, which is amazing for a superstar.

All said and done, this is another Numero Uno who has his own unique stamp on his position in the industry, and it is only getting better. Assuming relaxations in the cinematic outings by the government, he will still release maybe three films in the rest of the year, continuing his winning streak in the years to come.

But even overexposure (in case more films come) will not alienate audiences due to the sheer variety in which Kumar indulges. Because though he looks the same and does minimal changes to his physique (he just put on 5 kilos for “Raksha Bandhan”) so that his fitness is not compromised, he will never be repetitious, and nor will his films.

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