How Kumar “Trumped” the Khans in 2017

This year has been a rather mixed one so far for Bollywood’s big three superstars, the three Khans: Aamir, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. Each has had major setbacks in 2017, and although all three are relatively young (in their early 50’s) and in their prime, all have been reminded that there are other highly capable Bollywood actors who would love to take any of their places in the upper echelon of India’s matinee idols. Follow Spotlife Asia for the latest Entertainment and Lifestyle news.

One of those actors, who is just a notch below the big three in Bollywood’s pecking order, is the Punjab-born star Akshay Kumar. Unlike Salman, whose Tubelight (Tubelight movie review) was roundly declared a financial catastrophe, or Aamir, who enjoyed smash hit success with Dangal‘s (Dangal movie review)overseas release earlier this year only to follow it up with the sub-100 crore showing of Secret Superstar, or Shah Rukh, whose Raees was a semi-hit but which he followed with the disastrous Jab Harry Met Sally, Akshay has been on a breathtaking roll of late.

Not only has Kumar had two big successes in 2017, with Jolly LLB 2 and Toilet Ek Prem Katha, his hit streak actually extends back through three more pictures in 2016: Airlift, Housefull 3, and Rustom. Few other Bollywood stars—with the notable exception of Varun Dhawan—can currently claim such a bountiful string of winning movies.

The 50 year-old thespian is not only acclaimed for his acting talents, he is also one of the most commercially successful actors in the history of Indian cinema. He became the first Bollywood actor whose movies’ cumulative grosses surpassed the Rs.2000 crore level ($310 million USD) in their domestic Indian net lifetime box office collections, in 2013, and also the first to reach Rs.3000 crore ($470 million USD), in 2016 .

Perhaps because he is intent on keeping up with the aforementioned Khans, Kumar has been working at a furious pace to keep his dance card full. While Aamir Khan has been churning out films at the comparatively leisurely rate of one picture per year, Kumar has three movies announced and dated for 2018—two of these, the true-life drama Padman and the sci-fi thriller 2.0, have already completed production, and the third, the hockey biopic Gold, will be finished soon. He has two more films in active pre-production, the war drama Kesari and the biopic Moghul, and he has announced that he’ll be returning for the fourth installment of his immensely popular comedy franchise Housefull. He’s also said to be keeping his options open to possibly slot another film or two into the gaps between.

It’s not just his versatility in being able to play roles across comedies, dramas, romances, martial arts flicks, and thrillers that keeps Kumar so busy, it’s also his incredible work ethic. While the aforementioned Khans roll out their movies at the rate of, at most, two per year each, Akshay Kumar is running circles around them and can credibly claim the title “hardest working man in Bollywood.”