Akshay Kumar
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Akshay, Salman teaming up with directors who helped them deliver hits


On Eid this year, Salman Khan teamed up with director Ali Abbas Zafar for the first time, for Sultan, which went on to create history at the box office. Now, the two will work together on Tiger Zinda Hai, which will also star Katrina Kaif.

Similarly, Aamir Khan and director Vijay Krishna Acharya, who worked together on the blockbuster Dhoom:3 (2013), will come back with Thugs Of Hindostan, which also stars Amitabh Bachchan.

Unnerving act

“It is a bit unnerving to team up [with Salman] again, as the expectations of the audience will go through the roof, and you will be expected to live up to them. Of course, I share a comfort level with him as we understand each other well. But, ultimately, it all boils down to the quality of the film,” says Ali. Vijay, on the other hand, feels it is all about taking up a “new challenge”. “If there’s nothing challenging, there’s no point in coming together again. That won’t be exciting. Also, if you have a great relationship with someone, it allows you a lot of freedom in every possible way,” he says.


A number of other tried-and-tested actor-director pairs are also set for a comeback. Akshay Kumar is coming back with Neeraj Pandey for Crack (after Special 26; 2013, and Baby; 2015). Ranbir Kapoor will soon start working with Ayan Mukerji on a film after Wake Up Sid (2009) and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013). Likewise, Ranveer Singh will team up with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Padmavati after Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela (2013). Hrithik Roshan and his father, Rakesh Roshan, will work together on Krrish 4 after the past instalments of the franchise, and Shahid Kapoor has teamed up with Vishal Bhardwaj for Rangoon, after Kaminey (2009) and Haider (2014).

“When we (Akshay and him) work together, we have a lot of fun. Work doesn’t feel tedious. So, the process becomes fast and enjoyable. If it was tedious even a wee bit, I don’t think we would be working together on another film. We always try to bring out the best in one another, and create something interesting together,” says Pandey.

Even experts feel that it is a “win-win situation for everyone” when an actor and a director work together multiple times. Audiences, too, look forward to such successful partnerships. “Plus, there is a comfort level that people share,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

In the past, too, there have been many examples of hit actor-director pairs. Amitabh Bachchan had a fantastic track record with Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra, while Govinda and David Dhawan delivered more than 15 hits together. More recently, Shah Rukh Khan has had successful partnerships with Yash Chopra and Karan Johar.

But the big question is: Does coming together make things easier or put extra pressure? “It’s a bit of both. You come back with an actor for the second time only when you had a successful and creatively satisfying experience the first time round. And by success, I don’t mean box-office exploits, as that’s a by-product of a good film,” says Vijay, who felt working with Aamir was a “very satisfying and rewarding experience”.

Alert and aware

However, some directors admit that when they repeat an actor in their films, there is always a “slight chance” that they start taking things a little easy but they insist that one needs to be “alert and aware” about such things. “If you keep attempting films in one particular genre and with the same actor, then you might become lethargic. In my case, it’s different because now I am making an espionage-thriller,” says Ali, adding that he “feels blessed” to be working with Salman again.

In fact, such partnerships have a huge impact on the box office as well. “Look at the films Govinda or Shah Rukh have done with David Dhawan and Karan Johar, respectively. They have always had an edge over the films they have done with other directors,” says Taran.