It’s a question that has been nagging me for a while. Does Akshay Kumar hire a set of super-intelligent cronies who huddle together for days, scratching their heads, before deciding which awful film the star would act in next? Or does he trust the judgement of the one person almost single-handedly responsible for the most mind-numbing, soul-sapping and physically-hurtful films over the past few years — himself.
Everyone does bad films. Amitabh Bahchcan did many during a prolonged period in the late-90s (Mrityudaata, Lal Badshah, Major Saab, Kohram) before resurrecting himself with Kaun Banega Crorepati. But in the cauldron that is Bollywood, gurgling with a mix of big-budget blockbusters that cater to those with the lowest IQ and pass off foolishness as entertainment, some concept-driven films that manage to break the mould from time to time, and a few star-driven vehicles that are truly enjoyable, Kumar’s films stand out. He’s known to be a hard-working actor with a tremendous hunger for work; while most big stars oscillate between one and three films a year, Kumar does a minimum of four films, year after year. Which is what makes the prospect of Akshay Kumar films all the more dangerous — they intimidate you with their sheer number, each competing with the other to claim the Worst Film of the Year tag.
His latest is Joker, released last Friday and probably not playing at a cinema near you. There’s a recurring joke with Akshay Kumar films — a new film of his replaces the worst film you ever watched last. Kambakkht Ishq replaced Chandni Chowk To China. Tees Maar Khan replaced Kambakkht Ishq. It is being said now that Joker has replaced Tees Maar Khan.
There’s a slight difference this time, though. News is that Kumar was terribly disappointed with what director Shirish Kunder did with Joker, and thought that it was ‘not up to scratch’. A war of words ensued, following which Kumar refused to promote the film, the grapevine insists.
That’s really surprising now: Kumar thought a film of his wasn’t, err, good enough? Coming from a man who gave us Chandni Chowk To China, Kambakkht Ishq, Blue and De Dana Dan in one year (I dare you to watch them all, in case you’ve missed any), and backed it up with Housefull, Action Replayy and Tees Maar Khan the next (same dare, again), it’s hard to figure what Kumar may have not liked about Joker. It’s a terrible film, no doubt, but it also fits in snugly in the star’s illustrious filmography. Or is it that Kumar has decided that enough is enough — he’s tested the patience of his fans (who are staunch I might add; they came out in hordes to watch Rowdy Rathore and Housefull 2), and realised that he needs to junk his “anything goes” script sense and, finally, make an effort towards making films that have a semblance of sanity.
Knowing Kumar’s past record, the thought is too good to be true. I just have one request, Mr Superstar — if you have to continue in a similar vein, cut down on the number at least. One less bad film a year isn’t too much to ask for, is it?