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Akshay Kumar's blockbuster premiere of 'Laxmii' mirrors ground reality of entertainment business in India

The film, which also features Sharad Kelkar and Kiara Advani in key roles, didn't get any support from the critics, but it received a good response from audience first on OTT channel and now on satellite premiere

April 04, 2021 / 08:40 AM IST

This is how you silence the detractors!

Akshay Kumar and his team are pretty much having the final laugh, with the satellite premiere of Laxmii turning out to be true blue blockbuster. For a film that was panned by one and all when it saw straight-to-OTT release on Disney+Hotstar last year, the response that the horror-comedy has seen on its Star Gold premiere has not just turned out to be fantabulous but also historic in all ways.

Here are some of the facts that bring it all in perspective. For starters, the film that aired on March 21 has garnered - hold your breath - 63 million viewers from across the country. This is by means of 2.5 crores+ impressions (which is basically the number of TV sets on which the film was played) that it gathered on the evening of its arrival. By achieving this feat, the film is now the biggest Bollywood opener ever on the satellite medium as it has left behind biggies like Salman Khan's Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Akshay's own Housefull 4.

The only film which saw a (slightly) better response on its satellite premiere was Baahubali: The Conclusion, which had managed a little over 2.60 crores impressions. While that film was a bonafide all-time blockbuster on its theatrical release and was riding on all around popularity base that it had already gained, same was the case with Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Housefull 4, which were huge box office grossers already. However, what makes the numbers fetched by Laxmii all the more exciting is the fact that it has put an end to all the loose talks.

The film had arrived on the OTT medium at the time when the call of 'Boycott Bollywood' was at its peak. Moreover the film, which also features Sharad Kelkar and Kiara Advani in key roles, didn't get any support whatsoever from the critics as they were happy to find loopholes in the narrative, when it was always meant to be a hardcore commercial potboiler.

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What was disheartening though was the manner in which Akshay Kumar's bravura act as a transgender was ignored by those sitting at a high chair, something that must have indeed hurt the actor.

What must have been heartening indeed for the superstar though was the manner in which the audiences lapped up the film on OTT. The film took a record opening ever for Disney+Hotstar and by sheer eyeballs that it had gained on its release, it was pretty much declared as Akshay Kumar's highest opening ever. In absence of the concrete box office numbers that are otherwise a clear barometer of a film's success due to its theatrical business, one had to rely upon the OTT numbers but unfortunately that wasn't spoken about in a way it deserved.

Of course, one can argue that Laxmii wasn't the best of the Akshay Kumar blockbusters. However, at the end of the day it's the 'aam junta' (and not critics) who decide what goes into making a true entertainer. In that aspect, the record numbers fetched first on the OTT and now the satellite premiere is a testimony to the fact that the film is a true money spinner across all platforms. In fact, one can also safely assume that had the film been released theatrically as scheduled, either on Eid or later on Diwali, it would have gone past the Rs 150-crore mark.

Nonetheless, the super success of Laxmii further reiterates the fact that how perception is so different from the ground reality when it comes to entertainment business in India. A film may be hailed by one and all on social media with celebrity endorsements coming in from all quarters and still the box office performance may show a different story. On the other hand, despite the calls of all the boycotts, personal attacks made on an actor, and subsequently out and out panning of a film, it may still emerge as a true blockbuster amongst audiences.

We saw that earlier in Housefull 4 as well, which was a superhit theatrically and then a blockbuster on satellite. We are seeing that again for Laxmii as well on OTT as well as satellite.

May the masses win!
Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic, and loves to talk and write about anything that is related to films. Views are personal.
first published: Apr 4, 2021 08:40 am

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