Before 2000, Akshay Kumar was only bracketed as an action hero in Bollywood, and though there's no denying that we all love him in tough-guy roles to this day, his fortunes both critically and commercially took a sharp U-turn at the dawn of the new millennium after a meeting with one Priyadarshan, who, too, was looking to find his footing in Bollywood, after having tasted vast success in the Malayalam film industry. Beginning with the cult classic Hera Pheri, they fed off each other over the next ten years with one hit after another courtesy hit laugh riots like Garam Masala, Bhagam Bhag and Bhool Bhuliayaa, forging one of the best ever actor-Director combos in the industry.
Over the course of this golden phase for both Akshay Kumar and Priyadarshan, the former finally turned into a bona-fide star, besides showcasing a versatile side that shocked critics and the audience alike, and the later made his mark as one of the greatest names behind the camera in comedy. As the two are set to return on screen 12 years after (their next film is slated for 2022) their last release, Khatta Meetha, here's a look back at their stellar box-office record...
Though a moderate hit, collecting Rs. 12.36 crore nett at the time (that amount was enough to make it a hit at the time as Akshay, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal grew in stature in the industry post the film's release, commanding more money as the years went by), Here Pheri did manage to skyrocket both the Khilai and Pareshji's careers in a funny and welcome new direction, beside giving Priyadarshan the push he needed in the Hindi film industry.
Garma Masala (2005)
It took 5 years for Akki and Priyan reunite, but when they did, it was for another laugh riot that raked in Rs. 29 crore nett at the box office, and this time, was declared a clean hit, also giving John Abraham another genre to dabble with since then.
The hits then kept rolling. A year later, it was the turn of Bhagam Bhag, with Govinda also finding second wind for a brief period in his comeback. The Akki-Priyan combo was now a definite crowd puller as indicated by the burgeoning numbers. Bhagam Bhag's collection was a cool Rs. 40.38 crore nett.
The following year, the duo delivered an even bigger hit with Bhool Bhulaiyaa's Rs. 49.10 crore nett at the box office. The film, costarring Vidya Balan, has since become a mass favourite with the audience, showing that horror-comedy could work with the Hindi audience long before Stree certified the fact.
Two years later, it was the turn of De Dana Dan, which also reunited Akshay with one of his favourite leading ladies, Katrina Kaif, and though the film was one of the weakest reviewed outputs by the actor and Director's combination, it still managed Rs. 48.15 crore nett at the box office to go with an average verdict.
Khatta Meetha (2010)
Even Akshay and Priyan's least commercially successful film wasn't an outright flop, making Rs. 39.13 crore nett and gaining a below-average verdict at the box office.
As documented above, Akshay Kumar and Priyadarshan have never delivered a flop together and a result of four hits in six films is the stuff that most actor-Director combos can only dream of. Will the streak continue, or even be bettered (with the du0 finally delivering their first superhit or possibly a blockbuster) in their seventh outing together, which also happens to be their first original film together (all the others were remakes of erstwhile Malayalam hits)? Fingers crossed.
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