There’s too much Akshay Kumar on screen. Take a break and come back with a Hera Pheri

Every few months, a new release raises the question: Can this film save Akshay Kumar’s career? So far, the answer has been a resounding no.

File photo of Akshay Kumar | ANI

File photo of Akshay Kumar | ANI

Too much of a good thing can be bad and this is what seems to be happening with Akshay Kumar. Once the darling of producers, his movies have been missing the mark lately. While picking bad scripts is part of the problem, the mad rush to make one movie after another, as if he is racing against time, alienates the audience.

His recent string of half-baked films seems to be made in a 24/7 operational factory in China, they lack the detail and depth to be considered a quality product. People are tired of seeing him, they might skip even a Martin Scorsese or a Quentin Tarantino flick if it has Kumar in the lead.

His latest release, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, was pegged as his big comeback. Despite an impressive opening of Rs 15.50 crore on day one, the film is trailing at the box office. The over-the-top-action sequences, intern-written dialogues and forced comedy share the blame. Director Ali Abbas Zafar dumped every explosive he could find onto the screen and hoped for the best. But alas, they were all duds.

In a moment of self-awareness, Akshay Kumar’s character, our dear Bade Miyan, may god bless his repetitive soul, declares that he is the “oldest player in the game.” Well, I couldn’t agree more—his Khiladi antics have become as stale as last week’s bread. It’s like watching the same old movie but with different titles.

Ultimate comedy king

Once upon a time, when the three Khans dominated Bollywood, Kumar made ripples at the box office, emerging as the ultimate comedy king. With his elastic expressions, impeccable comic timing and rib-tickling antics, he ruled the silver screen, one blockbuster after another. My childhood memories of cinema are filled with his characters—whether it’s the hopeless Rajiv Saini (Welcome), the mischievous Raju (Hera Pheri), the troublemaker Happy Singh (Singh is Kinng) or the humorous psychiatrist Dr Aditya Shrivastava (Bhool Bhulaiyaa). He was Bollywood’s guarantee for a good time, teaming up with directors such as Priyadarshan and Anees Bazmee to create cult classics.

Kumar’s break-up with comedy was led by patriotic flicks like Baby and Holiday, which got him praise for his nuanced acting. Then came the plot twist: Covid-19 hit and our hero’s career stumbled. Except for the success of Sooryavanshi in 2021, Akshay has delivered a streak of misses. OMG 2 was an exception, but the harsh truth is that Pankaj Tripathi drew the crowds, not Kumar.

Every few months, a new release raises the question: Can this film save Akshay Kumar’s career? So far, the answer has been a resounding no. The audience is simply fed up with seeing him churn out one lacklustre performance after another. His portrayal of Samrat Prithviraj left the audience scratching their heads, not to mention the disastrous fake beard debacle in Mission Raniganj.

Even Shah Rukh Khan’s recent films, Pathaan and Jawan, lacked sensible storylines, but the excitement of his comeback after five years drew crowds.

Too much of Kumar has become a recipe for disaster. When an actor floods the theatres every few months with subpar performances and weak scripts, it’s no surprise that the audience starts giving him the cold shoulder.

Moviegoers have also become pickier with their entertainment choices after the pandemic. With skyrocketing ticket prices and the rise of OTT platforms, the audience now demands quality content over mind-numbing snoozefests.

But Kumar is no stranger to failure. There was a time when the actor delivered 16 consecutive flops, the media had written him off, and he wanted to move to Canada and start a cargo business. However, his fate changed.

Can he turn the tables once again? It’s unlikely to happen if he sticks to the same choices. He needs another Hera Pheri.

Views are personal.

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