Come Thursday, and it will be show time for Akshay Kumar. The Bollywood action superstar will be kick-starting his 2019 campaign with one of his most ambitious films till date, the Anurag Singh-directed period war drama Kesari. Akshay’s last release was Shankar’s sci-fi action film 2.0 with South superstar Rajnikanth. It hit the screens in November. Four months later he is ready to do battle at the box office again.
This film necessitated an extensive schedule as a large chunk of Kesari has been shot outdoors with well mounted battle sequences. For an actor who wraps up his films in 40-45 days, for example, PadMan, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Jolly LLB 2 and Rustom, Akshay occasionally does a Kesari which takes a little longer. That said, the costs of the film were still kept much under control. While many filmmakers would take 100-120 days to shoot a film like Kesari, Akshay, co-producer Karan Johar and director Anurag completed it in almost half that duration.
[caption id="attachment_223994" align="aligncenter" width="803"] Akshay Kumar in a still from Kesari[/caption]
This has ensured that Kesari is on safe ground as far as the film’s economics are concerned. Today, around 50-75% of any big ticket film’s investment is recovered from satellite, digital and music rights. However, good theatrical business has a charm of its own because at the end of the day, films are meant for a big screen watch.
What makes Kesari interesting is that it has been mounted and projected as an event film no less. Telling the real life tale of the great Battle of Saragarhi in which a battalion of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Afghan invaders back in 1897, Kesari is meant to be a goosebumps-inducing, high adrenalin action affair.
Right from unveiling of the film’s many posters to the promo which has been set on a grand canvas, Kesari promises an action packed dramatic ride which should keep audiences engaged as the narrative unfolds.
[caption id="attachment_227851" align="aligncenter" width="647"] A still of Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra from their film Kesari[/caption]
As for the business perspective, the release couldn’t have been better timed. It is releasing a day earlier on Thursday, for Holi, and that means a good pump up of business by around 20% due to the holiday factor. This also gives the film a four day extended weekend advantage. Moreover, Kesari is almost a solo release since Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, which is arriving alongside, would be targeting a niche audience base.
There would be limited competition from other Hindi films in the running. The run of Total Dhamaal has almost come to an end and Luka Chuppi too has enjoyed its theatrical run. Badla continues to be strong and would be finding a decent chunk of screens for itself in its third week as well. Still, Kesari should be undeterred by any of that and enjoy a good opening.
[caption id="attachment_230339" align="aligncenter" width="647"] Akshay Kumar photographed in Mumbai during the song launch of 'Kesari'[/caption]
In the past, Akshay has managed a first day in excess of Rs. 20 crore thrice over. With Gold (Rs. 25.25 crore), Singh Is Blling (Rs. 20.67 crore) and 2.0 (Hindi, Rs. 20.25 crore). Gold had the huge advantage of the Independence Day holiday but then there was also formidable competition in the form of Satyameva Jayate. Singh Is Blling had released on Gandhi Jayanti and didn’t face much competition from Talvar that released alongside. As for 2.0 (Hindi), it had the sequel factor going in its favor and stays on to be the costliest Indian film ever made.
From Kesari, it would be unfair to expect a record start since it is a standalone film releasing without any cushion of the franchise factor. Moreover, Holi is a holiday for sure but still not as big a holiday as Eid, Diwali or Christmas. All of that means that while there is some sort of advantage for sure, at the end of the day Kesari would need to rely mainly on its content.
As of now, the film is expected to open above the Rs. 20 crore mark and the expected range for Thursday’s collection is Rs. 20-22 crore. Anything more than that would be a huge advantage indeed for the Akshay Kumar starrer as from there on it could well benefit from the four day extended weekend.