Based on early estimates, it appears that Akshay Kumar is looking at a hattrick of flops in 2022, with his latest release, Raksha Bandhan, massively underperforming at the box office on its opening day. According to trade analyst Taran Adarsh, the film has made Rs 8.2 crore on day one of release, which means that it has failed to beat even Samrat Prithviraj and Bachchhan Paandey — Akshay’s two other bombs of the year. He wrote that the film had an ‘extremely weak’ performance in the metros, but fared slightly better in ‘mass’ centres.
By comparison, Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha — a fellow Independence Day weekend release — is estimated to have made Rs 10.7 crore on its opening day. But that film was produced on a bigger budget, across more locations, and required heavy visual effects work. Raksha Bandhan, on the other hand, was produced in a manner that has become typical for an Akshay Kumar-starrer — across one schedule, over a couple of months.
Currently, the top five opening days of the year are as follows: Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (Rs 14.1 crore), Bachchhan Paandey (Rs 13.2 crore), Laal Singh Chaddha (Rs 10.7 crore, if estimates hold), Samrat Prithviraj (Rs 10.7 crore) and Gangubai Kathiawadi (Rs 10.5 crore). Shamshera, another big-budget 2022 bomb, made Rs 10.2 crore on day one.
According to the BOI report, the film has performed well in Gujarat, and in centres where Laal Singh Chaddha has underperformed. It tanked in Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune. Raksha Bandhan’s low opening is made all the more concerning because it was banking on not just the extended Independence Day weekend, but also the Raksha Bandhan holiday. This helped the film pick up the pace towards the evening, but still wasn’t enough for it to challenge Laal Singh Chaddha.
The reviews haven’t been kind either. The Indian Express’ Shubhra Gupta gave the film 1.5 stars, and wrote, “Do the filmmakers truly believe that such low-rent family dramas, with their uneasy mix of humour and crassness, is the way out for a beleaguered Bollywood?”
Both Raksha Bandhan and Laal Singh Chaddha arrive at a particularly unfortunate time for Bollywood, with multiple back-to-back high-profile flops. According to a Business Insider survey, only one in five respondents (22%) are planning to watch a movie in the cinema hall or multiplex in the next 60 days. For Akshay, the situation is particularly dire since he already has two of the year’s biggest bombs to his name. Earlier this year, he spoke to the Indian Express about experiencing career setbacks, and said, “Dealing with failure is the same. I’ve not just had 13-14 flops, there was again a time in middle where my 8-9 films flopped. I always say you can feel bad for a flop from Friday to Sunday, on Monday you have to pick yourself up and go do another film, and be very happy on the set. You can’t carry around your sad face everywhere. You have to go and enjoy yourself, your work. Good films are only made because you enjoy the film.”