The shocking downfall of Nikhil Advani's Chandni Chowk To China has put a huge question mark on Akshay Kumar's ongoing comic journey. Most of his well-wishers in the industry seriously wish him to end his protracted attempts at comedy.
Says a director who has worked with Akshay, "Akshay Kumar 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."
Apparently, the Chandni Chowk To China writer Sridhar Raghavan was persuaded to continuously change the scenes until the writer (known for his skilled screenplay in Raj Santoshi's film) was a helpless puppet propelling the plot to destinations-unknown.
However, Akshay's staunch producer-director friends are more than happy to stand by him.
Akshay's next crucial release Kambakht Ishq has very little of the comic element. "It's an out-and-out rom-com with stunts of an international order," informs producer Sajid Nadiadwala proudly. "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?"
Sajid shoots down rumours of seriously revamping the comic element in Kambakht Ishq. "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."
However, on the downside Akshay's pairing with Kareena Kapoor has hardly ever worked, their last few films being Suneel Darshan's Talaash, Dharmesh Darshan's Bewafaa and Yash Raj Films' Tashan.
Vipul Shah's film with Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Bachchan which he launches in March is also not a comic romp. "But 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. A lot of people have been waiting to pounce on Akshay. This is their opportunity," Vipul Shah defends his hero stoutly.
It is believed that apart from Priyadarshan's De Dana Dan which is an out-and-out comedy, Akshay Kumar forthcoming projects will seriously cut down or downplay the comic element.
"It's the Govinda factor at work again," says a director who wants to remain unnamed. "He did so much buffoonery on screen, Govinda made people forget there was more to him than meets the eye."