By: Buzz Staff
Last Updated: August 16, 2022, 15:32 IST
Boycott Pathaan, Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha, Boycott Brahmastra are the current trends on Twitter. (YouTube screengrabs)
Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha. Boycott Pathaan. Boycott Vikram Vedha. Boycott Brahmastra. Boycott Bollywood. Here’s a fun equation to predict future trends on desi social media– “Boycott” + “Insert movie name” = New Twitter trend. Perhaps not so much fun if you are an ardent Bollywood fan or an employee in the Hindi film industry.
Social media, since its inception, has dimmed the starry look in the eyes of fans who once considered superstars as some mystical, invincible beings. One had to flip through pages of magazines and newspapers to catch a tiny glimpse of the world of the larger-than-life stars. These actors are all over social media now. Their “online” status has made them more human. Responding to admirers has, in a way, deflated their stature.
“Cancelling” and “boycotting” them has never been easier. Add past statements, movie clippings, or opinions of said actors to the mix that do not align with the worldview of these “boycotters” ahead of a movie release, and voila, you have a new Internet trend that will steer the conversation online.
But has boycotting Bollywood damaged the box-office numbers? “STOP being in denial about #Boycott calls *not* affecting film biz… The fact is, these #Boycott calls *HAVE* made a dent and impacted the #BO numbers of #LaalSinghChaddha specifically… Face it!” popular film critic Taran Adarsh declared on his Twitter page.
A similar sentiment was expressed by Akshay Kumar whose ‘Raksha Bandhan’ faced boycott calls ahead of its release.
“Everybody has a opinion now. When a film is made, there goes a lot of money and hardwork into it), it affects the economy of India and we actually indirectly are hurting ourselves only and I hope people realise this soon,” Kumar was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Seeing the tag “boycott” attached to an upcoming release constantly on social media timelines and in the news cycle does have a trickle-down effect. Aamir Khan, labelled as the industry perfectionist, delivers ‘Laal Singh Chaddha,’ his first in nearly 5 years, and it gets rejected despite overwhelmingly favourable reviews. The collection has inched to Rs 50 crore, unexpectedly low for a movie that, according to Khan, was 14 years in the making. Akshay Kumar who can guarantee you 100+ crore business with every script he lays his hands on is requesting the janta to not boycott movies mindlessly as ‘Raksha Bandhan’ falls flat.
Boycott hashtags have, however, failed to spell the demise of cinema in the past. Remember PK, Padmaavat or even My Name is Khan?
The pandemic snapped our rosy lenses to the world. A handful of Bollywood movies made their way to the theatres. A few succeeded but a majority tanked miserably. Lockdowns and Covid-19 paranoia running parallelly did not help the cause. Audiences turned to OTT from the safety of their homes and while doing so, “discovered” world cinema they once turned a blind eye to. Gems such as ‘Minnal Murali’, ‘Joji’, ‘Super Deluxe’, ‘Visaranai’ among many, many others found a fan-base among Hindi-speaking audience. When the Covid vaccines rolled out and the virus allowed us all a breather, K.G.F: Chapter 2, RRR, and Vikram (Kannada, Telugu, Tamil respectively) came along and swept the scene. The deadly trio incidentally became the top grossers in the country in 2022.
Kangana Ranaut, recipient of four national awards and a vocal critic of Karan Johar, and nepotism in the industry can also deliver duds in ‘Dhaakad’ (2022) and ‘Thalaivi’ (2021). Akshay Kumar can miss the mark completely with a snoozefest like ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ (2022). Who can forget Shilpa Shetty’s forgetful Bollywood “return” with ‘Nikamma’ (2022) and ‘Hungama 2’ (2021)?
Alia Bhatt, often attacked as the “poster-girl for nepotism”, on the other hand, roped in new fans with her performances in ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ and ‘Darlings.’ Not to forget Kartik Aaryan who carried Akshay’s evergreen ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ in the second installment with the very able Tabu and made it the biggest Bollywood commercial hit of the year thus far.
The tried and tested formula to get the cash register ringing once again for Bollywood would be by turning back to money-making franchises. Maybe, just maybe, we need (read: not deserve) the yearly releases that the critics and “intellectual” viewers socially distance themselves from with all their might. Dabangg 5, Housefull 8, Race 13, Raaz: Reboot, Uninstall and Shut Down, where art thou?
No, seriously. When Boman Irani, not your average actor, does ‘Housefull’ (1,2,3) ‘Happy New Year’ (2014), ‘Dilwale’ (2015), and supports the over-the-top movies, one could really take him on his word from this interview on Rajya Sabha TV’s show “Guftagoo” with Irfan.
“All cinemas I think have their space. And there’s a reason for that. Commercial cinema has to be made not because I’ve to make money but because this film industry has to make money. If those films succeed then smaller films can be funded. If there no pillar of commercial cinema, then smaller films cannot be made,” Irani said.
“We do not have a Disneyland in our country. We cannot hook boats to our cars and casually go boating. Everybody in the West can go boating, they can go skiing, they can take their children to Disneyland, they can go for different types of holidays. Our holiday is on Friday evening, for the entire country to watch an escape called a film. And for the man on the street, whether he is a taxi driver, a clerk or a waiter (points to himself), he needs an escape.”
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By: Buzz Staff