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Hollywood Spent Years Wooing The King Of Bollywood. It Took Amazon To Land Him.

Cedric Nettles/Senior Editor

(Madeline Berg Forbes Staff)

India’s top movie star is doing his best to keep busy. Locked down at home along with much of the country, Akshay Kumar has been shooting TV commercials with his niece operating the camera, working the phones to coordinate $4.5 million of pandemic relief pledges and fine tuning scripts. 

He’s also binge-watching TV, burning through episodes of Money Heist and After Life on Netflix NFLXThe Family Man on Amazon AMZN, and, for his seven-year-old daughter, Sugar Rush, a baking show. The choices may seem odd for a superstar who’s built a lucrative business by rebuffing Hollywood. But these are not normal times, not even for the king of Bollywood. Kumar, after decades of declining offers from U.S. producers, reversed course and last year signed a deal to star in the upcoming Amazon Prime AMZN series, The End

“You have to change with the times,” Kumar says during an hour-long facetime interview from his apartment, stopping occasionally to mediate a spat between his daughter and her older brother. “From screenplays and scripts to technology and the way of shooting and the audience. The zeros in my check have changed. Everything has changed.”

The deal, which Forbes estimates is paying Kumar $10 million, has everything to do with the overturned balance of power in American filmed entertainment. Having seized the narrative in Hollywood, technology giants from the north have rewritten the rules of the movie business at home and, momentum in hand, are turning to India, the world’s second-largest movie market. 

Cedric Nettles 

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