Those who join the Boycott cinema call with a herd mentality don’t realise that Bollywood does not comprise only stars. An estimate places those directly involved in the Indian entertainment industry at 850 thousands and those indirectly affected at 2 million, writes Amitabh Srivastva
In 2022, Akshay Kumar, who boasts of being the biggest income-tax payer in the country gave three big flops, all belonging to different genres.
Bachchan Paandey was a masala comedy; Samrat Prithviraj was a period drama; while Raksha Bandhan was a family drama.
Same was the fate of Lal Singh Chadha starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor and is called the biggest loser as far as Aamir Khan (Mr.Perfect) is concerned whose films are eagerly awaited both by the elite and masses.
But the irony is that Kangana Ranaut, four time National Award winner who started this boycott movement in 2020 after the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput, has had three massive flops in Panga, Thalaivii and now with Dhakkad, she joins the top failures of 2022 whose figures of ticket collection are reported to be less than Rs 4000 and the slick high action drama had to be taken off theatres.
The boycott trend is not new to the world actually. We in India boycotted British goods and made a bonfire of foreign clothes on the call of Mahatma Gandhi.
In independent India too, the boycott of politicians, theatre artistes, stand up comedians, cricketers and cinema has been significant.
There was a time when the houses of cricketers were stoned by mobs after India lost a cricket match to Pakistan.
But today with almost every individual holding a mobile in his hand, the boycott, trolling and abuse of film stars has become the most favourite pastime because they are the most vulnerable lot as no one dares speak out for them.
The sole exception being 2010 when the Shiv Sena had given a call to stop the screening of ‘My Name is Khan’ and called for its boycott.
The trigger for this was that Shahrukh Khan had supported the inclusion of Pakistani players in the IPL.
Rahul Gandhi, the then Congress president took it as a personal challenge from the Shiv Sena led by Bal Thackerey and travelled in the local trains on Mumbai to ensure that theatres were not closed by the protesting mobs of the Shiv Sena on the day of the release.
In 2020, the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput triggered one of the worst hate movements on the social media and supported by some loud TV anchors it called for the boycott of all
prominent film personalities accused of promoting nepotism for denying roles to the young and promising stars like Sushant Singh Rajput.
Prominent names that were targeted included Shahrukh, Salman Khan,Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt and by inference Alia Bhatt, Pooja Bhatt etc.
Some of the worst abuses on social media were reserved for the Big B. His fault: he did not speak out on the SSR suicide but in the same breath the trolls abused him and his family in the vilest terms for not welcoming the establishment of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. Is there a connection between the two topics? I don’t k know!
Leading the charge from the front was Kangana Ranaut with her critics alleging she was hankering for a political position though none of that has happened so far.
In the same wave Deepika Padukone became an enemy of the people because when she went for the promotion of her film Chapaak to Delhi she was persuaded to address a student gathering at JNU. The film bombed.
In that same boycott wave, people like Naseeruddin Shah, Javed Akhtar, Swara Bhaskar, Anurag Kashyap and Tapsee Pannu were heavily trolled because they were supporting the students of JNU who were protesting against the CAA.
It’s been more than two years since SSR died and today neither his parents nor his vocal sisters are ever heard talking about his death.
Actually, the more the investigations the more the unsavoury aspects of SSR’ s personal life started tumbling out. It was disclosed how he was a drug addict and how he changed his girlfriends every year.
The boycott call is a Frankenstein. It devours it’s own creators.
Till two years back we knew who the victims were and why. There was an ideology of hate and bigotry towards what is called the liberals or seculars.
Most of those who spoke out against the killing of people for eating beef or protested against intolerance of the ruling regime bore the brunt of the virulent trolls.
Aamir Khan became a target because he said his wife was afraid of living in India.
In 2024, no one knows why they are boycotting Bollywood. On the chopping list are Arjun Kapur, Ranbir Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar and the irony of ironies Kangana Ranaut who does not leave any chance of having a go at star kids for promoting nepotism.
However the patience of film stars is now wearing out.
Arjun Kapoor says, “I think we made a mistake in being silent and that was our decency.”
This reaction also led to a strange phenomenon where pictures of prominent film stars were posted on the social media holding banners saying,”Boycott people.”
But fact-checkers found out that these were doctored pictures of protests against the rape of a minor girl in Kathua by some prominent Hindu leaders including the temple priest.
Those who join the Boycott cinema call with a sadist pleasure are the same who are happy that railway concessions to senior citizens have been abolished.
These people with mobiles in their hands joining the herd mentality don’t realise that entertainment industry does not comprise only Shahrukh Khan,Aamir Khan, Salman Khan,Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut, Alia Bhatt but involves thousands who are dependent on it for their day to day living.
An estimate of 2019 places the numbers of those directly involved in the Indian entertainment industry including cinema, TV, serials and now the OTT platforms at 850 thousand and those indirectly affected at 2 million.
But things are definitely changing with ‘ Brahmastra’ starring Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt produced by Karan Johar.The film which has been in the making for several years has finally bucked the trend of empty theatres.
One could say this was a gift from the public to the newly-weds, one of the most loved couples in Bollywood whose marriage was eagerly awaited by their fans.
Even though boycott Ranbir Kapoor did trend for sometime due to a comment he had made about eating beef 4 years ago, thankfully the word of mouth publicity from those who went to watch the film at the theatres has worked.
Alia Bhatt, also part of the so-called nepotism lobby, has proved a lucky mascot for the entertainment industry in this dismal scenario as Brahmastra has already crossed the 350 crore landmark and running.
Her hold on audiences was also reflected in the recent release of her first directorial venture ‘Darlings’ where she plays a revengeful wife who cannot stand domestic violence and decides to give her husband a taste of his own medicine.
Such was the horror of the males in India that they started a boycott Alia trend against the film. But not only did she withstand it, her next film Brahmastra went on to break the 300 crore bar.
Talking of boycott, actually all journalists should ‘boycott’ the recently released Chup:Revenge of an artiste directed by R Balki.
The film shows a psychopath who is a fan of late Guru Dutt killing all film critics in the most gory way possible because they do not understand the craft and the hard work that goes into making films like Kagaz ke Phool or Pyasaa that were panned by film critics when they were made.
But Balki is sure that there was nothing like boycott Bollywood.
Talking about it he said in an interview,”It is rubbish. It is a lovely theory to have. Few films flopped and propel love to fill columns. When success happens they will have entertainment again and they will write ‘The rise and rise of Bollywood.’