Tuesday, 5 July, 2022
HomeFeaturesReel TakeTax cuts, nationalism and Amit Shah's blessings aren’t saving Akshay's Samrat Prithviraj

Tax cuts, nationalism and Amit Shah’s blessings aren’t saving Akshay’s Samrat Prithviraj

As Samrat Prithviraj moves to the brink of abject failure, Southern films like Major and Vikram see massive uptick in viewership.

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Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s Samrat Prithviraj had everything going for it—Bollywood star Akshay Kumar in the lead role, tax-free status in three states, and approbation from Home Minister Amit Shah. Even its blatant attempt to tap into nationalistic fervour does not seem to be working. Since its release on 3 June, collections have dropped by 53 per cent. The film earned Rs 39.4 crore on day one, while the total collection is just Rs 44.40 crore.

By all indications, Samrat Prithviraj, which had a Rs 150 crore budget, is headed for a crash. Despite a heavy dose of Hinduism, dharm and revisionist history and Akshay Kumar’s allegations of Muslim rulers finding more space in Indian school textbooks than Hindu kings, the film has not impressed viewers.

Shows are reportedly being cancelled in various places owing to extremely low footfall. The film is also facing stiff competition from the Kartik Aryan-starrer Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, which was released on 20 May 2022. Incidentally, Akshay had starred in the first installment of this film in 2008, which remains a blockbuster to this day. The horror-comedy, running in its third week, has already crossed the Rs 150 crore mark.

Also read: Samrat Prithviraj is so focused on Muslim invaders that it forgets the king himself

The anatomy of a flop show

Akshay has claimed that the film is a result of 18 years of research. However, many viewers highlighted historical inaccuracies and made fun of his portrayal of Prithviraj Chauhan. The 54-year-old actor was playing a 26-year-old king and romancing a co-star 29 years his junior.


Trade analysts and entertainment journalists have shared a detailed breakdown of Samrat Prithviraj that shows that the film did not gain pace even over the weekend.


It needed a steady Monday to stay afloat, which did not happen even though it was made tax-free in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.

Special screenings held for the ministers of the three BJP-ruled states, and also for Home Minister Amit Shah and others in the cabinet did not translate into more footfall in theatres.

Also read: A one-time watch, Anees Bazmi’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 suffers under shadow of Akshay’s original

Few takers for Bollywood heavyweights

It’s not just Akshay’s performance that has been panned. Other stars, including former Miss World Manushi Chillar, Sanjay Dutt, Sonu Sood, along with Ashutosh Rana and Sakshi Tanwar, have also received a negative response for the most part.

The fact that the film is banned in Kuwait and Oman did not help matters. UAE is a big base for Bollywood films and Samrat Prithviraj missed out on it.

Big star films have consistently been underperforming in Bollywood in recent months. Akshay’s previous venture, Bachchan Pandey bombed spectacularly as it just managed Rs 50 crore in collections. Its budget was Rs 180 crore.


Shahid Kapoor’s Jersey, too failed miserably as it hovered around Rs 20 crore. Ranveer Singh’s Jayeshbhai Jordaar did not cross Rs 16 crore. And Ajay Devgn’s Runway 34 earned a mere Rs 33 crore.

Even the trailer of Aamir Khan’s Lal Singh Chaddha, which was dropped recently, got a lukewarm response.

Also read: Acharya is ‘hero-worshipper’ first, story later—watch it only for Chiranjeevi-Ram Charan duo

The Southern wave

Ever since the pandemic, with the coming in of OTTs and a breakthrough of South Indian films, audience response to big Bollywood stars has been lukewarm at best. From RRR to KGF 2 and even Major and now Vikram, films from the south are opening to much bigger numbers and stabilising themselves well.

Major and Vikram were released the same week as Samrat Prithviraj. Made on a budget of Rs 100 crore, Major is cruising smoothly and is expected to recover its costs. It has made Rs 35.65 crore till now, and will probably even be a hit.

Meanwhile, Vikram, touted as Kamal Haasan’s grand comeback vehicle, and also starring Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Faasil, is the biggest grosser at the moment. The film might not have found many takers in the Hindi belt, but has already crossed the 100-crore mark within a few days of its release. At this point, it is the top grossing movie in the domestic market.


The worldwide collection for the Tamil film is Rs 150 crore.

With access to multiple OTT platforms that show good content, and the choice between Samrat Prithviraj and other films, the audience has given a clear verdict.

(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)

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