Article Hindi

How Akshay Kumar is taking over Independence Day

The actor has already slotted the Independence weekend of 2017 for his next, Crack. This would be his fourth release after Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai Dobaara, Brothers, and Rustom, marking the successful takeover of the most patriotic weekend at the box office. 

Shriram Iyengar

Akshay Kumar is on a roll. With his recent release, Rustom, managing to score higher than Ashutosh Gowariker's massive period epic, Mohenjo Daro, the actor has successfully managed to monopolise the remaining few star-free weekends at the box office. Rustom's release on the weekend of India's Independence Day has now become a signature style for an Akshay Kumar film. The actor had previously released Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Dobaara (2013), Brothers (2015) on the same weekend, and has already booked the same dates in 2017 for his next release, Crack. On the flipside, Airlift (2016) one of the biggest hits of the first half of the year released on the weekend of India's Republic Day.

As a film, Rustom carries several elements that cater to Kumar's target demographic. It is based on a character of high integrity caught in exceptional circumstances. Kumar's Rustom is portrayed as a naval officer who sacrifices his family comforts, peace and happiness for the sake of his nation, and his family. These features have become a trademark in Kumar-led films since Special 26 (2013). Films like Baby (2015), Airlift (2016), Brothers (2015) marked a conscious transformation from the comic action stereotype that limited Kumar at the box office. His current status as a star who can perform in versatile roles gives him an additional range at the box office. In addition, the actor also has a public image as a disciplined teetotaller and a good husband, which adds credibility to his roles.

Akshay Kumar in Baby (2015)

Box office success in India is often the result of timed releases. At a recent interview, Gowariker joked that most big dates are already blocked, and others have to make do with the dates they get. Salman Khan has traditionally released his movies on the weekend of Eid, while Shah Rukh Khan saves his dates for Diwali. Aamir Khan has been drawn to the Christmas weekend since Ghajini released in 2006. Excluding these dates, the only remaining 'festive' weekends were those of India's national holidays, namely Republic Day and Independence Day. Kumar's strategy to take over these dates is a sign of his growing clout as a superstar outside the Khan bastion. 

Kumar's films also carry a slight patriotic tinge which makes him endearing to the audiences. His recent films, particularly Special 26, Baby, Airlift and Rustom have all carried with them an undertone of patriotism. In many ways, it is a throwback to the Manoj Kumar style of filmmaking and acting which left a massive imprint on Indian cinema during the 60s and 70s. This is a reason Kumar's films such as Namastey London, Singh is King, Airlift, carry a certain nostalgic value for audiences. The value-based filmmaking style does have a demographic appeal, even in the age of big budget action blockbusters. 

Akshay Kumar in Namastey London (2007)

Meanwhile, the actor recently announced the release of his next, Crack, with Neeraj Pandey on the Independence weekend next year. The film will again clash with another big release, Imtiaz Ali-Shah Rukh Khan's tentatively titled The Ring. 

Looking at the past record, Kumar will have no reason to worry. History, literally, is on his side. 

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Independence Day