“Nobody is going to lie about box office figures,” Akshay Kumar on alleged Housefull 4 fake collections

The superstar is least perturbed by the needless trolling, has nothing but respect for those film critics who didn’t rate his film highly

By Mayur Lookhar

Akshay Kumar in Housefull 4 (2019)

Akshay Kumar’s films would seldom get five-star ratings, but they usually tick the boxes when it comes to box office returns. Even his most stern critic has never questioned his success.  All along, Kumar’s respected the criticism but he’s left it to the audiences to decide the fate of his films. And the audience has seldom disappointed him. 

Housefull 4 (2019), Kumar’s Diwali week release, has been panned by critics, but the bigger worry is that perhaps for the first time ever, the box office collection of an Akshay Kumar film is being questioned.  (As per BoxOfficeIndia.com, Housefull 4 has so far made Rs137 crore nett in one week) Allegations of fudged figures started to trend on social media.  While trolls shouldn’t be taken seriously, but one was left curious after veteran producer Ronnie Screwvala, without naming any film or producer, called for transparency in posting box office figures. It’s led to talk by few that may be box office figures shouldn’t be made public at all.

The regular trolling of Kumar, Housefull 4 producers Sajid Nadiadwala and Fox Star Studios has raised question over their credibility. With the constant social media battering, it was imperative that producer/ distributor cleared the air. It’s a little unfair to see Akshay Kumar take on the trade queries.   He’s not the producer or distributor.  “Aaj toh toofan aaya hain’ [A storm has arrived today], Kumar said calmly.

Brave that he is, Kumar faced it head on but never lost his dignity while taking the uncomfortable questions.  He downplayed the trolling, didn’t berate any critics, in fact, he respects them. Leave aside the numbers, but at the end of the group conversation, Kumar only gained in more respect.

Excerpts.

What is the actual box office figures of Housefull 4 ?

I think whatever Fox (Star Studios) studio writes it. And whatever boxofficeIndia [perhaps referring to the popular trade portal) , or exhibitors or distributors are writing. That’s what it is.

Which is?

The last I read it was (pauses) Rs137 crore nett.

Is Housefull the most critique-proof franchise?

I respect critics. It is important for people to be critics. It is like a barometer which tells what your temperature is.  It is important to have critics in your life. And I respect it.  What may be comedy for you, might not be comedy for another.  My comedy sense, my humour is very different from my wife. So she may not like this.  Things will vary throughout.

Did it bother you seeing social media trends like ‘fake Housefull 4 numbers’? Producer Ronnie Screwvala also called for authenticity in disclosing box office collection. Did you feel that your credibility was at stake?

No. I am not the one giving out figures.  I  read an article where Inox cinema said how the film really fared. Now they are not my relatives. They wouldn’t lie. PVR, Cinepolis chiefs have spoken. They will not lie.   Do I look upset to you?  I come from the era where I’ve heard many opinions but I’ve never hit back at them.  I never spoken against them. That’s because I was taught at school to ‘mind your own business’. I can’t comment on it [social media criticism]

Akshay, you don’t write the figures. But this [confusion] arises when you see four different figures from four different trade analysts, and then the film’s publicist is sending you a fifth figure altogether.

There is a very credible studio called Fox.  It is a corporate which runs from Los Angeles.  It is not possible. They don’t get bothered by these small things.  They make films of millions of millions of dollars.  [Allegedly] fudging by a few crores doesn’t make much difference. Look, they [Fox Star Studios] are writing on their own social media handle. They have to report to everyone. Nobody is going to lie about figures.

Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi had said that box office figures needn’t be put in public domain.   How much do you agree with it?

How much do I agree? [pauses] If the corporate doesn’t put it then some one else will post it.   Box office collection has become like an open book.  I don’t think there should be any problem in posting figures in public domain.

How tough it is to pull off a slapstick comedy that is often bereft of logic?

It is very difficult when you have to keep logic away.  Physical comedy, aha only Charlie Chaplin used to do it without even saying a single dialogue.  He made us laugh each time. It’s one of the most difficult acting to do. 

Your character Bala from Housefull 4 has been much appreciated, especially by kids. How encouraging is that?

It’s good but I don’t take that too seriously because now I have to take to some other genre. I did Housefull 4 after three years. I want to keep jumping.  At times, when I read Twitter, facebook, fans make request for slapstick comedies. Or some want me to do a romantic comedy like Namaste London (2007).  You need to keep on jumping genres. Don’t take yourself seriously into one genre.  I did that mistake when I started my career. People ask me how do I it? A man shouldn’t get bored by his work.

Do you pay attention to the quality of jokes in your films.  A lot of times, we see body shaming which sometimes doesn’t go well with [audiences]

(Akshay breaks in)

Yes, you are right. The writer has to take care of it. But sometimes, the joke is not part of your scene.  As about the quality of jokes, I have to pay attention to what kind of film.

You said that your wife Twinkle Khanna and you have a different taste for comedy. What is her reaction to Housefull 4 (2019)?

She [pauses briefly] DIDN’T COME TO SEE.

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