Mission Mangal: The rise of Akshay Kumar as Bollywood’s most dependable star

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Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero and Akshay Kumar’s Mission Mangal were the latest Bollywood flicks that explored the theme of mission to Mars. Unfortunately, Zero was a box office disaster but Mission Mangal gave Akshay Kumar one of the biggest openings of his career. Akshay also emerged as the most bankable star following the success of this film.

Mission Mangal is a story about four women scientists of ISRO who helmed India’s Mars mission. One may wonder how Akshay garnered all the limelight during its promotions, but Sonakshi Sinha, who played one of the lead characters has an interesting take on it.

“Jo dikhta hai woh bikta hai (sic)”, shared the actress in an interview. Sonakshi reiterated it was his presence that helped cash registers ringing at the box office.

So how did Akshay went on to become the most bankable star of Bollywood? The versatile actor underwent a dynamic transformation from his struggling days in the 1990s to become the poster boy of Indian commercial cinema. Each of his films has an underlying social/ patriotic message. Toilet Ek Prem Katha, Padman, Gold, Jolly LLB2, Airlift and Mission Mangal, are just a few films worth mentioning.

After making it big with Khiladi in 1992, Akshay went on to do some real tacky films like Mr. Bond, Deedar, etc. In between, he had major hits like Yeh Dillagi, Mohra also. His major turning point came with Jaanwar directed by Suneel Darshan in 1999. Then came Hera Pheri in 2000 which gave a glimpse of the real comedian in Akshay. Later, a string of successes like Phir Hera Pheri, Garam Masala, Housefull, Bhul Bhulaiyya, Heyy Baby, etc, established him as a seasoned comedy star. Movies like Khakee and Namaste London earned him accolades as well as nominations.

The turning point in Akshay’s career came with the comedy, OMG-Oh My God in 2012. He played the role of Lord Krishna in the modern world. Special 26 (2014), a heist film directed by Neeraj Pandey brought critical and commercial success to Akshay. Since then, Akshay’s career trajectory underwent a major change and he forayed into ‘meaningful cinema’ as we’d like to call it.

Akshay again teamed with Pandey for Baby, a spy thriller. This shift in his career made him the most sought-after star as he went on to bag National Film Award for Best Actor for Rustom and Airlift, causing an uproar over his capability as an actor. Undeterred by criticisms, the actor went on to do good movies like Naam Shabana, Kesari and now Mission Mangal. Industry insiders say that these days any socially relevant or patriotic film should have Akshay to ensure success at the box office.

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