Samrat Prithviraj, failed to create ripples at the box office. Starring Akshay Kumar, the film had a double-digit opening, at Rs. 10.70 crores. However, it was not enough for a film, which is reportedly made at a cost of approx. Rs. 200 crores. The growth on Saturday and Sunday was also minimal as the word of mouth was not entirely positive. In the weekdays, the film dropped considerably. In 10 days, the film has collected around Rs. 60 crores and it is expected to end its run under Rs. 70 crores.
Does the debacle of Samrat Prithviraj affect the box office standing of Akshay Kumar and Yash Raj Films? Trade experts share their views
Akshay Kumar’s standing affected?
Akshay Kumar and YRF (Yash Raj Films) last collaborated on Tashan (2008). The Vijay Krishna Acharya-directorial was badly panned by the audiences. The same has happened with Samrat Prithviraj. As a result, will both shy away from working with each other in future?
Trade expert Komal Nahta disagreed, “I don’t think any production house thinks on these terms. He’s a saleable actor. If they have a project together, they’ll definitely re-collaborate. Nobody works like that. YRF applies corporate principles and corporates don’t think in terms of lucky, unlucky or any such superstitions.”
However, he agreed that the standing of Akshay Kumar does get affected, “Yes. This is his fourth flop after Laxmii (2020), Bellbottom (2021) and Bachchhan Paandey (2022). Only Sooryavanshi worked for him. I don’t count Atrangi Re as it was not his film entirely.”
Akshay Kumar’s last release Bachchhan Paandey (2022), failed at the box office and its lifetime collections were just Rs. 49.98 crores. And Samrat Prithviraj’s failure raises eyebrows especially when Kartik Aaryan-starrer Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is all set to cross the Rs. 175 crores mark.
Vishek Chauhan, owner of Roopbani Cinema in Bihar, made it clear that Akshay Kumar is still a superstar, “There’s nothing wrong with Akshay Kumar. He’s still a bonafide star. Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar are the 2 genuine Bollywood stars who can pull audiences in the single screens, and that is the litmus test of any star. If Samrat Prithviraj is able to do a business of Rs. 60 crore, it’s all thanks to the presence of Akshay.”
Trade veteran Taran Adarsh stated, “One flop and people usually write off the actor or in this case, also the production house. But I can’t give you so many examples. Amitabh Bachchan had so many flops in a row like Toofan (1989), Jaadugar (1989), etc. He was written off completely. He, however, bounced back with Aaj Ka Arjun (1990), helmed by a new director, K C Bokadia. Aamir Khan was written off after he returned with a four-year gap with Mangal Pandey (2005). Salman Khan, before Wanted (2009), gave a string of flops. Same with Shah Rukh Khan. However, once they gave a hit, they are back. This is because they have a loyal fan base. Hence, writing off Akshay Kumar is foolish. He has the potential. And you can’t take off the fact that he’s one of the most dedicated artists today. The dedication that is there in Amitabh Bachchan, I see it in Akshay Kumar too. He’s very punctual and he lives upto his commitment.”
He also reminded that Akshay Kumar has seen such periods in the past. “Akshay had so many flops after his debut Saugandh (1991), which was also just a decent grosser. And then with Khiladi (1992) and other films, he jumped into the big league.”
Vishek Chauhan had a suggestion for the Khiladi Kumar, “Akshay Kumar needs to go back 10 years. He needs to bring the heroism back. Akshay Kumar the actor needs to take a backseat. Akshay Kumar the star needs to come in the front. I would love to see Akshay Kumar in a Khiladi series. He’s doing a film named Bade Miyan Chote Miyan with Tiger Shroff. If that film’s title has something to do with Khiladi, its chances of working increase as franchises are working big time. Like Main Khiladi Tu Anari 2 or Khiladi vs Khiladi or Khiladi vs New Khiladi or Khiladi vs Junior Khiladi etc. Remember, how War (2019) was sold with the tagline – Hrithik vs Tiger. It considerably upped the hype.”
YRF’s standing affected?
For YRF, Samrat Prithviraj is the fourth consecutive flop after Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021), Bunty Aur Babli 2 (2021) and Jayeshbhai Jordaar (2022). Do these back-to-back debacles affect their standing in the market?
Komal Nahta opined, “100% it affects their standing. Your equity gets diluted.”
Komal felt that this was evident even before the release of Samrat Prithviraj, “Earlier, the YRF distribution team used to be in a commanding position as far as getting shows for their films are concerned thanks to the strong content of their films and overall success ratio. But for Samrat Prithviraj, they had to agree to many conditions laid down by the exhibitors. The exhibitors made it clear that they can’t give all the shows to their film, and they’ll divide shows between Samrat Prithviraj and some other movie. Also, they told YRF that they can’t promise that they’ll run their movie for 2 weeks. YRF had to bow down to these terms.”
YRF’s next flick is Shamshera and Vishek Chauhan said it can turn the tide for the production house if it’s a massy entertainer. He, however, cautioned, “If Ranbir Kapoor is not shown as a hero in Shamshera and is shown as a common man caught in extraordinary circumstances, then that film will also go down the drain.”
Taran Adarsh however, disagreed, “I don’t think YRF will get affected. They have some very big films coming up like Shamshera, Pathaan and Tiger 3. I have huge faith in Aditya Chopra and his ability. Look at the honesty of the production house. They are sharing authentic numbers of Samrat Prithviraj with me. The same happened with Jayeshbhai Jordaar as well. Any other producer would have shied away. Hence, I have tremendous respect for them. This quality of theirs will always keep them above everyone else.”
Vishek Chauhan said that Samrat Prithviraj’s debacle should be a wake-up call for the industry. He also appealed to the Bollywood filmmakers that they should return to make full-on massy entertainers. His message to the filmmakers is, “Aa ab laut chalen. Nahi milega aapko Oscar. Desi films banaiye. Aisi filmein banaiye jo gaav mein chalegi. Aur jo film gaav mein chalegi, woh aaj ke date mein poori duniya mein chalegi. This is because the tastes of both have got aligned, theatrically. If an Avengers does well in New York, it does well in my town Purnea as well, and vice versa.”
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