I am going to be up front here and say that I am a fan of Akshay Kumar, and I am currently enjoying this run he is having at the box office, as Salman fans did from 2010 to 2017.
So I might sound biased, but after reading this, I hope everyone understands what's going on. From 2010 onwards, the audience wanted to watch more masala action films, which Salman was catering to them year on year. Dabangg, Ready, Bodyguard, Dabangg 2, Jai Ho, Kick and Sultan all fit in this category, while other films fell in other genres.
The same time, Akshay was experimenting and not getting the right results. HF worked in 2010, then he did a TMK which was another masala entertainer and had a good first weekend and bombed completely. From 2010-2017, the only masala entertainers of Akshay were Rowdy Rathore (BLOCKBUSTER), Khiladi 786 (AVERAGE-SEMI HIT), Boss (FLOP), Gabbar (SEMI HIT). He was experimenting a lot (Joker included).
But when the audiences were tired of Masala entertainers, the shift took place. Akshay was giving back to back hits with patriotic films, urban comedies, and social comedies while Salman stuck to his area of comfort and didnt work at the BO (Race 3, Bharat under performed even though they are more than Akshay's films, but that is partly due to EID).
Also, had Dabangg 3 released 4-5 years ago, the exact same film would have crossed 200cr easily.
Yes Akshay Kumar is giving hits which are collected by others actors in their low phase, but like for like comparison has to take place. It was Salman's time from 2010 onwards, now Akshay Kumar is ruling the Box Office, though not at the level of Salman. But we have to applaud the man for coming back with a bang,
Of course, this is the fan in me talking (and in no way am I a Salman hater). Peace!