Ayushmann Khurrana struck gold with his very first film in the form of Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor. Despite the not-so-family-friendly subject of a sperm donor, the film worked at the box office. After some struggle following his debut success, the actor created a niche for himself through a series of successful films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Savdhan, Andhadhun, Badhaai Ho, Article 15 and Dream Girl.
With 4 FLOPS in a row, what is going wrong with Ayushmann Khurrana’s films? Experts speak
With such consistent success, Ayushmann became one of the most bankable stars. However, after the resumption of movie theatres at the end of 2021, he has had four theatrical releases – Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, Anek, Doctor G and the recent one An Action Hero – and all of them have failed at the box office.
What exactly is going wrong with Ayushmann’s films? Why one of the safest box office stars is going through such a phase?
Veteran trade analyst Taran Adarsh said that generally this happens when a star keeps doing the same type of films. “But when it comes to Ayushmann Khurrana, that’s not the case at all,” he said. “The story of his one film is completely different than the other. Even his earlier films are diametrically opposite in terms of the genre. Similarly, his Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, Anek, Doctor G and An Action Hero are very different from each other.”
Adarsh finds two reasons for Ayushmann’s change of fate. “Firstly, a big chunk of the audience that was following him has started liking those films on OTT. The subjects are all right. But more on the experimental side is suited more for OTT nowadays,” he said. “Also he has had four releases in a span of a year. I feel it should be controlled to two in a year. Four in a year can lead to fatigue. I remember Amitabh Bachchan used to have five or six films in a year and people were still hungry for more. But those days are gone. Today, less is more I guess.”
Veteran trade analyst Atul Mohan also believes that the OTT boom has affected Ayushmann’s films. But he also feels that the actor’s bad period had started before the pandemic. “I think it started with Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan which didn’t do that well because of the theme,” he said. “And after that, because of the lockdown that went on for months, people got the exposure of different types of content from everywhere (on OTT). Then right after the lockdown his Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui was also not a family-friendly subject.”
It is also said that lack of proper promotions and publicity is also affecting Ayushmann’s films with An Action Hero being a major example of the same. Atul Mohan said that in today’s times, producers are forced to have a theatrical release even if they know their film is suited more for OTT because of the terms put forth by the platforms. “So, when a producer knows that his film isn’t going to get much from the box office, he spends a limited amount for its theatrical release,” he said.
Senior trade analyst Amod Mehra is of the view that when on goes on experimenting, the chance of success is less. “He is trying his level best to not be branded in any slot. Like Amitabh Bachchan as the Angry Young Man and Akshay Kumar in comedy and action. But this is also a reason for failure. Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui wasn’t bad. But it had a different topic which was hard to digest and not for the family. But the film did exceptionally well on OTT. With Anek, I don’t think the director was sure on what he is making. So, some films go as a bouncer. That’s the reason why his films are not doing as well as they should.”
However, exhibitor Akshaye Rathi is of the view that it’s not right to blame Ayushmann for the result of his recent films. “I don’t think it’s Ayushmann Khurrana’s films that are not working well. It could feature any actor. We have had an Ajay Devgn deliver Drishyam 2 after Runway 34, which, despite the good reviews, didn’t do the kind of business all of us expected out of it,” he said.
Rathi also believes that the industry is still trying to gauge the audience behaviour. “We are as such learning what the audience is really trying to tell us in terms of their choices, preferences and demands for a theatrical experience,” he said. “As an industry, we will really catch up soon enough from the learnings over the last one year and soon start delivering big hits all over again with better consistency.”
Atul Mohan also feels that the makers should also be blamed for a film not doing well. “Sometimes the film looks good on paper but then it falters in the execution. In such cases, the actor can’t be blamed,” he said.
Mehra is also all praise for Ayushmann as an actor. “In none of his films people have said that he is not good,” he said. “He has been continuously growing as an actor. He has also shown his capabilities of building his body.”
Ayushmann will next be seen in Dream Girl 2, the second film in the franchise directed by Raaj Shaandilyaa.
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