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Is the boycott culture hurting Bollywood business?

On May 29, the makers Laal Singh Chaddha released the movie trailer at the grand finale of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. Soon after, #BoycottLaalSinghChaddha became a top trending hashtag on Twitter. Since then, the social media platform was abuzz with the boycott hashtag everytime a song or promotional poster of the movie was released.

Days ahead of the movie’s release on August 11, the vitriolic hashtags took several forms such as #BoycottAamirKhanmovies and #BoycottKareenaKapoorkhan targeting the lead actors of the film.

Twitteratis ratched up actor Aamir Khan’s alleged remarks in 2015 about the growing intolerance in the country and scenes from his 2014 film ‘PK’ alleging that it hurt the religious sentiments of the majority community. Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan came in the line of fire for her earlier remarks urging public not to watch their film if they don’t like it. Recently, both have urged the audience, in different forums, not to boycott this film.

The damage, however, seems to have been done. Laal Singh Chaddha, an official adaptation of 1994 Hollywood film Forrest Gump, earned ₹11.70 crore on its opening day, the lowest for Aamir Khan, in over a decade. The net collections fell further to ₹7 crore and ₹9 crore on day 2 and 3, respectively.

Mixed views

While the movie itself has received mixed reviews from the movie buffs and film critics, can its poor show be attributed to the boycott calls on social media?

Film industry experts have mixed views. Movie critic and film trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels the boycott calls have impacted the performance of Aamir Khan’s latest film. “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!” he tweeted.

Kamal Gianchandani, President, Multiplex Association of India (MAI) said the whole negativity on social media, although uncalled for, doesn’t have a larger impact on movie business or a film’s performance.

“If a film is good then positive reviews, word of mouth, or people praising the film on public platforms are helpful and it will make the film even bigger. But seldom you will find the public thrashing of actors or films on social media have a negative impact on the films,” Gianchandani said. He added that while critical reviews and debate about movies in public forum is part and parcel of the business, it is the material, marketing and actor’s ability to pull audiences that ultimately decides the fate of a film.

Sangeet Hemant Kumar, an entrepreneur with interests in real estate and Bollywood, said with the power of social media and its penetration is so wide that any negative propaganda of this scale will have its impact on the movie business. Terming the boycott trend on social media as ‘unhealthy’, Kumar said, “These trends are not just detrimental to movie business and the country but will also kill the creativity of artists and filmmakers.”

While the pandemic-hit film exhibition industry is pinning hopes on big bang Bollywood releases for it’s recovery, the Twitter platform is already trending with hashtags #BoycottVikramVedha (actor Hrithik Roshan’s upcoming film), #BoycottPathaan (Shah Rukh Khan’s next film), #BoycottBrahmastra (Ranbir Kapoor starrer) and BoycottBollywood etc.

“There is a lot of negativity out there on social media platforms which is a bad influence for society. I feel regulators and relevant authorities should definitely look into this,” Gianchandani said.

Published on

August 16, 2022

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