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Akshay Kumar: 120+ films in 25 years and still going strong


Here's why the Khiladi has never had a sustained rough patch in his career.

Keyur Seta

Ever since the emergence of commercial Hindi films, every era has had its group of bankable stars (read: heroes). These are the actors who are at the peak of their careers at a particular time in terms of the returns they guarantee through their presence in a film as the lead.

Thinking of this quality in the current era, the names that strike our minds instantly are Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. However, it would be unfair to leave Akshay Kumar out of this elite list. The actor has been a bankable star ever since he struck gold for the first time in Khiladi (1991).

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Today, 25 years later, if we look back on his career, we see that the actor has never fallen off the list of bankable stars. In fact, he has been in the list of top five actors throughout this period. To stay in this position for a quarter of a century is an achievement indeed.

This is because, apart from him, only the aforementioned three Khans have achieved this. Amitabh Bachchan, one of the stalwarts of Hindi cinema, had such a golden run from 1973 to the early 1990s, a period shorter than that which Kumar has managed. Even Salman Khan, the biggest star currently, had a rough patch from 2005 to 2010. Interestingly, Kumar has never had to face such a prolonged rough patch.

In terms of versatility, Kumar's career graph has moved upwards with the passing years. In the first decade, he was only known as an action hero. He then entered the romantic arena and, later, became the torch-bearer for whacky comedies. In recent years, he has become the face of Bollywood’s patriotic cinema with films like Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty (2014), Baby (2015), Gabbar Is Back (2015), Airlift (2016) and Rustom (2016).

Akshay Kumar has acted in more than 120 films so far in 25 years. On the other hand, Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh, despite starting at around the same time, have done 90+, 100+ and 50 films, respectively. But in the last 10 years, Kumar has appeared in 44 films, which is much more than Shah Rukh (16), Salman (28) and Aamir (9). [Cameos have been excluded.]

The most remarkable thing here is that the over-exposure, with more than four films in a year, has not affected Kumar's standing at the box office. Of course, more films could mean more duds, and Kumar has had his share of flops. But, surprisingly, his image as a bankable star hasn’t taken a beating.

In fact, the Khiladi is going from strength to strength. This year, he has had three releases — Airlift, Housefull 3 and Rustom — and all have entered the Rs100 crore list. His last film has upped his market value many notches higher since it defeated Mohenjo Daro in the biggest box-office clash of 2016.

Kumar now has Jolly LLB 2, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha and Crack as his next three releases. Needless to say, the producers and financiers must be considering themselves in safe waters.