The failure of Nikhil Advani's Chandni Chowk To China has put a question mark on Akshay Kumar's comic journey. While some filmmakers say he tends to interfere in the director's job, his staunch supporters in Bollywood feel he should not be written off because of one flop.
There were reports that the comic element in his next big release Kambakht Ishq were revamped after the disastrous results of Chandni Chowk... at the box office. But Kambakht Ishq producer Sajid Nadiadwala shoots down the reports.
"Why would I do that? The film is what it is. I don't work with my actors based on how their last film did. Kambakht Ishq will have a lot to offer," Nadiadwala told IANS.
In Kambakht Ishq, Akshay is paired with Kareena Kapoor. Some parts of the film were shot in Hollywood and stars like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brandon Routh feature in the movie.
"It's an out-and-out romantic comedy with stunts of an international order. And why are we jumping the gun just because one of his films hasn't lived up to expectations? There could be so many reasons for it. Why should Akshay be blamed for it? Why so much negativity about him? Is he the first superstar to disappoint audiences?"
On the downside, Akshay's pairing with Kareena has hardly ever worked at the box office. Suneel Darshan's Talaash, Dharmesh Darshan's Bewafaa and Yash Raj Films' Tashan are a few examples.
Some filmmakers would like him to end his protracted attempts at comedy.
"Akshay has become progressively active in the process of writing scripts and shooting films. He freely makes suggestions some of which, I've to admit, are good. But quite often he wants to take over the project. When I went to him with another project, he offered to co-produce it and get someone to re-write portions. It's obvious a lot of scenes in Chandni Chowk... were re-written. The result shows," a director said on condition of anonymity.
"It's the Govinda factor at work again," said another director who preferred to remain anonymous. "He did so much buffoonery on screen that Govinda made people forget there was more to him than meets the eye."
However, Akshay's staunch producer-director friends are more than happy to stand by him.
Said Vipul Shah, who will launch his next with Akshay and Aishwarya Rai in March: "I don't think the failure of Chandni Chowk To China means that audiences have rejected him in the comic avatar. The backlash is totally uncalled for. And it looks motivated by reasons other than the box office. Many people have been waiting to pounce on Akshay. This is their opportunity."
But Shah, whose last two films with Akshay - Singh Is Kinng and Namastey London - were romantic comedies, has decided to keep away from the genre in the next venture.
It is believed that apart from Priyadarshan's De Dana Dan, which is an out-and-out comedy, the comic element is being cut down or dowplayed in Akshay's forthcoming projects.