Even as Priyadarshan's 90th film — the Mohanlal-starrer Oppam — is running to packed houses in Kerala, the acclaimed director is already gearing up for his next project.
And as per news reports, he will be teaming up with Akshay Kumar for this film, which Priyan has described as a "hilarious family entertainer".
Buzz that Akshay would be doing the film with Priyan, which would be produced by Rohit Shetty, has been doing the rounds for a while now.
However, there has been no clarity on just what this project would be — at one time, the popular theory was that this would be a remake of the Tamil hit Visaranai, which was recently selected as India's official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Priyan has admitted that he has bought the remake rights for the movie, which is based on the novel Lock Up by M Chandrakumar. However, he will only start work on the film after his current one with Akshay and Rohit Shetty wraps up.
Of his project with Akshay, Priyan said, "It will be a comedy film, on the lines of the hilarious comedies we have done together. The details of other cast members are yet to be finalised. We are working on all those things."
Curiosity about Priyan and Akshay's film is naturally high. It is after five years that the duo — who collaborated on hits like Hera Pheri, Bhagam Bhag, De Dana Dan, Garan Masala and of course, Bhool Bhulaiyya — will be teaming up again.
Priyan himself has not made a Hindi film after 2013's Rangrezz.
It is safe to say that it was Priyadarshan's Hera Pheri that launched Akshay's career to the next level in the new millennium. Khatta Meetha is the only one of the Akshay-Priyan films that was termed an 'average' earner (the rest were hits or did above average business)— and even that managed to collect over Rs 40 crore at the box office. Before Hera Pheri, Akshay had a string of under-performing films. Between Dil To Pagal Hai (in 1997; in which he had a guest role) and Jaanwar (the film he did just before Hera Pheri), Akshay had no fewer than eight flops. If one goes beyond DTPH, there are more unsuccessful movies — Akshay's Khiladi franchise had lost its once magical status at the box office.
Hera Pheri was certainly not the first film to show off that Akshay could be a versatile actor — Yeh Dillagi and Sangharsh had established that he had what it took to be more than an action star. But his impeccable sense of comic timing, on display in films like Main Khiladi Tu Anari, had not been harnessed by a director in the way Priyan did, with Hera Pheri.
Hera Pheri showed that Akshay had a screen presence that went beyond his martial arts moves. Along with Paresh Rawal and Suneil Shetty (who had been Akshay's comrade-in-arms before Saif Ali Khan took over that role) Akshay made Hera Pheri, a remake of Priyan's Ramji Rao Speaking, a critical and commercial success. And so a formula was established.
Priyan remade his Vellanakalude Nadu as Khatta Meetha; De Dana Dan was the Hindi version of Vettam; Boeing Boeing became Garam Masala and the critically acclaimed Manichitrathazhu (Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi and a spectacular Shobhana) became Vidya Balan-Shiney Ahuja-Akshay Kumar's Bhool Bhulaiyaa.
Since 2011, when Priyan and Akshay last worked together, Akshay's career has shot into the stratosphere. In the Khan-dominated industry, he's carved an identity for himself as the patriotic superstar; among the most bankable actors in the Hindi film industry. And 2016 has been a good year for Akshay: The top-five Bollywood grossers of 2016 so far have three of his films — Housefull 3, Rustom and Airlift. Together, they have done a business of about Rs 363 crore. (Sultan is on the number one spot, with Rs 300 crore; Fan rounds off the list at fifth position, with Rs 85 crore in earnings.)
So when the duo gets together for their new project, Akshay's star power and Priyan's ability to bring out the actor's cinematic best can only mean good things.
Add Paresh Rawal (with whom Akshay had great chemistry in not just Hera Pheri and its Neeraj Vora-directed sequel, but also in OMG! Oh My God) and you have a project with unlimited potential.
Will Priyan and Akshay create box office history with their new film?
We'll be keeping you posted.