Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha. Boycott Pathaan. Boycott Vikram Veda. Boycott Brahmastra. Boycott Bollywood. Here is a fun equation to predict future social media trends desi Boycott + Insert Movie Name = New Twitter Trend. Maybe not so fun if you’re an ardent Bollywood fan or an employee of the Hindi film industry.
Social media, since its inception, has dimmed the starry gaze of fans who once viewed superstars as mystical and invincible beings. You had to leaf through the pages of magazines and newspapers to get a glimpse into the world of larger-than-life stars. These actors are now everywhere on social networks. Their online status made them more human. Responding to admirers has, in a way, deflated their stature.
Canceling and boycotting them has never been easier. Add past statements, movie clippings, or opinions of said actors to the mix that don’t align with these boycotters’ worldview before a movie’s release, and voila, you’ve got a new internet trend that will steer the online conversation.
But has the Bollywood boycott damaged box office numbers? STOP denying that #Boycott calls *don’t* affect the film industry The fact is that these #Boycott calls *HAVE* made a dent and impacted #LaalSinghChaddha #BO numbers specifically Face it ! popular film critic Taran Adarsh said on his Twitter page.
A similar sentiment was expressed by Akshay Kumar whose Raksha Bandhan faced boycott calls ahead of its release.
Everyone has an opinion now. When a movie is made there is a lot of money and hard work) it affects India’s economy and we only hurt each other indirectly and hopefully people will realize that soon, Kumar told the Hindustan Times.
Seeing the beacon boycott attached to an upcoming release constantly on social media and in the news cycle has a trickle down effect. Aamir Khan, labeled as the industry’s perfectionist, delivers Laal Singh Chaddha, his first in nearly 5 years, and it is rejected despite overwhelmingly favorable reviews. The collection rose to Rs 50 crore, surprisingly low for a film which Khan said ran for 14 years. Akshay Kumar, who can guarantee you over 100 crores in business with every script he gets his hands on, asks the having dinner not to mindlessly boycott movies as Raksha Bandhan falls flat.
Boycott hashtags have failed to spell the end of cinema in the past, however. Do you remember PK, Padmaavat or My Name is Khan?
Pandemic, OTT, Regional Cinema
The pandemic has broken our pink lenses on the world. A handful of Bollywood films have made their way to theaters. A few have succeeded but a majority have failed miserably. Covid-19 lockdowns and paranoia running in parallel did not help the cause. Viewers turned to OTT from the safety of their own homes and, in doing so, discovered the global cinema they had once overlooked. Gems such as Minnal Murali, Joji, Super Deluxe, Visaranai among many others, many more have found a fan base among Hindi speaking audiences. When the Covid vaccines rolled out and the virus gave us all breathing space, KGF: Chapter 2, RRR and Vikram (Kannada, Telugu, Tamil respectively) arrived and swept the stage. The murderous trio has also become the largest wholesaler in the country in 2022.
A bad movie is a bad movie
Kangana Ranaut, recipient of four national awards and vocal critic of Karan Johar, and nepotism in the industry can also deliver misfires in Dhaakad (2022) and Thalaivi (2021). Akshay Kumar can completely miss the mark with a snoozefest like Samrat Prithviraj (2022). Who can forget Shilpa Shetty’s forgetful return to Bollywood with Nikamma (2022) and Hungama 2 (2021)?
Alia Bhatt, often attacked as the poster child for nepotism, has meanwhile won new fans with her performances in Gangubai Kathiawadi and Darlings. Not to mention Kartik Aaryan who carried Akshays Evergreen Bhool Bhulaiyaa in the second episode with the very capable Tabu and made it Bollywood’s biggest commercial success of the year so far.
Why so serious, Bollywood?
The proven formula to ring the cash register again for Bollywood would be to go back to lucrative franchises. Maybe, just maybe, we need (read: don’t deserve) the annual releases that critics and intellectual viewers heartily socially distance themselves from. Dabangg 5, Housefull 8, Race 13, Raaz: restart, uninstall and shut down, where are you?
No seriously. When Boman Irani, not your average actor, does Housefull (1,2,3) Happy New Year (2014), Dilwale (2015) and backs overdone movies, you could really take his word for it from this interview on Rajya Sabha Guftagoo TVs show with Irfan.
I think all cinemas have their space. And there’s a reason for that. Commercial cinema has to be done not because I have to make money, but because this film industry has to make money. If these films are successful, smaller films can be funded. If there is no commercial cinema mainstay, then smaller films cannot be made, Irani said.
We don’t have a Disneyland in our country. We can’t hook boats to our cars and boat casually. Anyone in the West can go boating, skiing, taking their kids to Disneyland, going on different types of vacations. Our holiday is Friday night, for the whole country to see an escape called a movie. And for the man in the street, whether taxi driver, clerk or waiter (he points to himself), he needs an escape.
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