September 17, 2008

Akshay Set to Rake in Rs 71 Crore for Next Film

By Meena Iyer

MUMBAI: In the time of a possible global meltdown, this filmland snippet sounds like the overblown talk typical of Bollywood fare. But insiders insist it is true - that UTV has signed superhit hero Akshay Kumar for their next film for a staggering Rs 71 crore.

Ram Mirchandani, founder & COO, UTV Rampage Motion Pictures, confirmed that their company had signed the Singh Is Kingg star. "But the remuneration figure being bandied about is far less," he said, adding warily, "The buzz is market speculation. And, we as a company, don't comment on market speculation."

Akshay too chose to play down the deal. "I am a stakeholder in the film that's yet to go on the floor. Who arrived at this figure? Market rates fluctuate. My price will be decided when the film is being sold. Who knows what the market will be like then?"

However, trade analysts had a different story to tell. Amod Mehra admitted that he had heard of Akshay's mind-numbing one-film signing amount. "In an attempt to outdo each other, film corporations have no choice but to pay such extravagant sums to get actors to sign their movies," he said.

Another source in the film trade said, "With most A-list actors wishing to do just one film at a time, film corporations have been forced to fork out big money to get a Khan or a Kumar to greenlight their project. Shah Rukh Khan sold the worldwide rights of Om Shanti Om for Rs 73 crore. And in less than a year, there comes this news of a corporation actually paying an actor a sum close to that amount."

Insiders also said that before UTV tempted Kumar into signing on, the actor, who turned 41 on September 9, was in negotiation with another film corporation with whom he had worked recently.

"The negotiation fell through because Akshay, after the stupendous success of Singh Is Kingg, allegedly inflated his price from Rs 30 crore to Rs 60 crore," said a trade source. That's when UTV is said to have stepped in and signed the actor. Other details of the Akshay-UTV project are being finalised, said insiders.

Corporate honcho Pritish Nandy of PNC said, "Movies are about hype, illusion and myth-building. Bollywood seems to have taken this far too seriously. If the news is true, it's completely insane."

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