Has Neeraj Pandey fallen out with Akshay Kumar

By Subhash K Jha
Mumbai, Dec 30 (IANS) While December 2017 was dominated by “Tiger Zinda Hai” and to a lesser extent by “Fukrey Returns”, there are no other major Hindi releases until the middle of January 2018.
This is bad news for Bollywood, and a great opportunity for the big Hollywood releases like “The Greatest Showman” and “Jumanji 2” to find their feet at the Indian box office.

Trade experts say this famine of new Hindi releases is a direct consequence of “Padmavati” being pushed out of the release zone.

A normal flow of releases will begin only in the middle of January when on January 12, director Akshat Verma’s “Kaalakaandi” and Anurag Kashyap’s “Mukkabaaz”. The two long-delayed dark tales of vigour and humour being released together. And may the best man win.

But the actual battle at the box office in 2018 begins on January 26 when for the slot now owned by actor Akshay Kumar (he ensures his films are released for Republic day or Independence Day or both every year), Akshay’s erstwhile friend and business partner Neeraj Pandey makes a claim with his release “Aiyaary”.

A trade insider who wants to remain unnamed says this is a deliberate attempt to take on Akshay.

“Neeraj Pandey is very much aware that Akshay’s “Pad Man” is releasing on January 26. Neeraj still went ahead with the release of ‘Aiyaary’. Why? Because the two have fallen out over financial issues. Their proposed fourth film together ‘Crack’ which was to be made and released on Independence Day, has also been shelved.”

Would “Aiyaary” be able to take on the mighty Akshay Kumar?

Chances, say trade pundits, are bleak.

Akshay’s reputation as the hero of the masses has already generated massive interest in “Pad Man” whereas “Aiyaary” with Sidharth Malhotra, who hasn’t had a hit in a long time, and Manoj Bajpayee, a brilliant actor with no box office clout, stands a distant second in terms of audiences’ appeal.

“Pad Man” co-producer Prernaa Arora has decided to release her film “Pari” just two weeks after “Pad Man”.

While “Pad Man” will open on January 26, “Pari”, which Arora has co-produced with actress Anushka Sharma, will release on February 9.

“‘Pad Man’ and ‘Pari’ are two different entities, completely different films and I am confident that both will find their audience. It’s just a coincidence that I’m involved with both, a happy coincidencem” Arora said.

“I am very proud of both films. ‘Pari’ is Anushka’s first post-marriage release. So we are very excited. As for ‘Pad Man’, Akshay Kumar is Akshay Kumar. No one can touch this,” she added.