Akshay KumarCirca 1991, a waiter from Bangkok after the initial grind as a struggling newcomer finally marks his debut in Bollywood. A year later, a struggling TV actor too makes his Bollywood debut. Today one’s the ultimate Khiladi and the other the Badshah of Bollywood.

We are talking about superstars Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan, both formidable in their own right, genres and markets. While the two are best remembered together for their film almost a decade ago , Dil To Pagal Hai , they created magic once again in the more recent Heyy Babyy , when SRK made a guest appearance in the Akshay-starrer.

In turn, Akshay will be seen making a rare guest appearance in SRK’s upcoming Om Shanti Om . Insiders insist that they hit it off instantly. But while personally they may be on friendly terms, professionally the two stars are giving each other a tagdi takkar at the box-office overseas.

While SRK had become an instant rage in the overseas market with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge , and has been numero uno ever since, Akki’s action star image failed to strike a note in the hearts of the overseas audience.

However, if the recent trade figures are anything to go by, Akshay’s emerging as the new star on the overseas circuit giving tough competition to the Khan brigade (Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir and Saif) who have been ruling the roost so far. And with his recent spate of successes, Akshay’s begun a steady climb to the top and is fast catching up with the undisputed badshah.

Says trade analyst Taran Adarsh, Akshay’s certainly hot property in the overseas market today. His films have done extremely well both in India and abroad and box-office collections clearly prove that in the overseas market he’s one force to reckon with apart from Shah Rukh.

Sample this: Akki’s Heyy Babyy has grossed approximately Rs 5.58 crores in UK, as opposed to SRK’s Chak De which has grossed Rs 3.47 crores so far. Not only this, Heyy Babyy has also taken the biggest opening in the US this year and the biggest screen average (6,039 pounds) in the UK. With this Akki is touted to takeover as the ‘Overseas King’ with consecutive hits overseas.

Agrees trade analyst Komal Nahta who says, There’s no doubt that Akki’s raced way ahead of a host of other actors in the overseas segment. But he’s quick to add that it’s too early to consider him a threat to SRK’s reign.

A film distributor reveals, SRK has so far been the untouched king in the overseas market. But though that is quite unlikely to change soon, Akki’s popularity abroad is soaring. His films are being lapped up by overseas distributors with ever-rising prices. Even his films like Dosti that have not done well here, have seen several houseful weeks abroad. So, that way he’s a superhit hero and has been consistent in giving hits.

Analysing the two superstar’s film graphs, Nahta observes that Akshay has done far too many films and has not maintained the exclusivity that’s been one of SRK’s strengths. SRK has been very choosy, doing only one or two per year, as opposed to Akshay. Because of that the success ratio of SRK increased manifold and shot him into the superstar league way earlier, explains Nahta.

But what needs to be considered here are the banners. While SRK made it big, under big banners, Akshay has made it big on his own and it’s only of late that he’s started doing films under the bigger banners, adds Adarsh.

Box office apart too, the two not only endorse rival cola brands, but also suiting brands. And that’s not all while SRK endorses computers, Akshay endorses a gaming console. While Akshay’s doing away with his action image and doing more comedies and romantic fare, SRK’s geared up his body for some heavy duty action stuff.

Both have the solid backing of good friends and enjoy quite a loyalty among certain filmmakers. SRK has Karan Johar who’s reportedly named his next film My Name is Khan, on good pal highlighting him as the contemporary educated Muslim. Not to be outdone, Akki has been backed by Vipul Shah, who’s film Singh is King shows him as the quintessential Punjabi munda . In fact, many feel that the film was titled to announce his claim to the ‘King’ tag. Now whether the film really establishes his status as the King or not only time will tell.

Source: TimesofIndia

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