Is Akshay Kumar the new king of Bollywood? Die hard Shah Rukh Khan fans may cringe at the suggestion, but it’s not as blasphemous as it sounds. According to trade reports, Kumar’s latest release, Singh is Kinng has grossed Rs 126 crore in the four weeks since its release. This figure will undoubtedly rise as the film continues to do well in India and abroad.The actor is passing through a purple patch. Last year, he gave four consecutive hits—Namastey London, Heyy Babyy, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Welcome. Indu Mirani, a film trade analyst, says: “Yes, Akshay Kumar is a very serious contender for the title of ‘Kinng’, but one must not forget that Shah Rukh Khan has not had any releases this year.” However, she concedes that Kumar has established himself as a one-man industry, much like southern superstar Rajinikanth, and held his own against the dominance of the Khans. He is already the highest-paid star in Bollywood and reportedly charges more than Rs 20 crore per film.
And it isn’t just the big screen that he’s setting on fire. Kumar’s tryst with the idiot box has also been a resounding success. His small screen debut as the host of Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi on Colors, for which he charged an exorbitant Rs 1 crore per episode, has also been well received. Says Harish Bijoor, CEO of Harish Bijoor Consultants: “Kumar can most certainly be called the next king of Bollywood.”
Will SRK retain his crown, or will he be dethroned by Kumar, who, incidentally, is the sonin-law of former superstar Rajesh Khanna? All eyes will be on Khan’s next film, Billo Barber, which releases in October 2008. Meanwhile, Kumar’s juggernaut continues to roll.