Understanding the Bollywood boycott trends and locating the introspections

bollywood boycott

Boycott ‘Pathaan’ trend has been doing rounds on social media in India ever since the movie’s song ‘Besharam Rang’ has been released recently. On several fronts, a few of the people with no job in their hand remain intact in searching the solid bases for boycotting the movie. This time, the boycott clique is coming forward with so many issues, including costume colour of the actors, vulgarities, Deepika Padukone’s solidarity with JNU’s students during anti-CAA protest in 2019 etc. Such narratives for or against a movie gets a high speed momentum as soon as the political parties either belonging to ruling or oppositions will jump into the controversy as we have been witnessing for the last a couple of years. Unfortunately, the Indian cinema is now linked to the politically motivated narratives and to be called them as nationalist movies, movie as a secular image or anti-national movies etc. Hence, a large section of the people is seen promoting the movies on several grounds. At the same time, the boycott trend seems to be the greatest threat to the cinema, which is chronically weakening to the entire Hindi cinema.  Interestingly, the Bollywood movies which are boycotted on several grounds have nothing to do with the nationalism and secularism. For the last a couple of years, India has been witnessing the boycott trend against those movies having a top superstar in the lead role and who occasionally and frequently pronounce their views on social or political issues.

The movies, namely Lal Singh Chaddha and Raksha Bandhan with the lead actor as Amir Khan and Akshay Kumar respectively, were released on the same date, but both the movies have been boycotted, not on the political or nationalism ground but on a narrowness narrative set against the Bollywood industry. Obviously, there has been a marginal success for the boycott gangs in denting the Bollywood industry. Arts, culture and cinema can never be taken away from the people’s heart by a few of the people having narrow mind-sets. Of-course, declining levels of the Bollywood movies for the last a couple of years as compared to south Indian movies must be introspected. The boycott gang could only take advantages of the situation of the downfall of the standard of Bollywood movies by showcasing it their grand success in terms of boycotting the Bollywood. In reality, the continuous failure of the Bollywood movies into the box-office could be linked to many more other aspects which urgently needs an introspection. Otherwise, the small gang of boycott Bollywood can appear to be as the dirty fish which can make the entire pond as dirty pond. Following a few points must be deeply introspected if the makers of a movie plan to propose a movie, so that negativity against the movie can be eradicated and can be ensured into the best movie with a good return.

Pandemic & OTT Revolution

The Indian cinema, including theatre culture has also been marred severely on account of the Covid-19 pandemic as it has brought a paradigm shift to the masses in terms of their selection of movies for watching them at the theatre or at home. The movie viewers have become fastidious and particular while planning to go outside for a newly release movie. Now, they have an option of OTT for watching the movies at home. Such option of OTT has emerged as a kind of revolution for those who used to watch the newly release movies particularly during the pandemic. At the same time, people could also access the OTT platform for their movies made in India as well as globally. Such availabilities of movies at OTT platform did bring a lot of high expectation and comparison for the consumers as several good content movies could be easily seen during a pandemic that led to tempt a number of question marks of Bollywood cinema. In 2021 and 2022, movies which have emerged out of Bollywood industry could not fulfil people’s expectations as much as they are supposed. Therefore, a small group of people named as Boycott gang needs to be only seen as negative character who could only take advantage of sub-standards of movies but cannot tarnish the image of Hindi cinema.

Comparison to South

Without a hesitation, no one can deny of south Indian movies which are continuously breaking all the record of success in terms of commercial aspects and box-office. Success of south Indian movies with a high level of peak as well as consistency deserve to be highly applauded as all movies, including movies of small budgets have been well appreciated and also emerged as commercially blockbusters despite of a pandemic hit the nation. Though, the content of the movies of south India could easily connect to the masses and their expectation by accommodating a lot of things into their movies, including languages, culture, identity as well as stories which happen to be common man who can easily be associated while watching the movies. On the other hand, things are desperately or accurately changing with the movies of Bollywood as the majority of the movie makers do not understand the pulse of the masses. For the last a couple of years in the Bollywood, several kinds of experiments were seen which appeared to be the disaster for the Industries. For instance, “Laal Singh Chaddha”, Aamir Khan-led expensive remake of the 1994 American classic ‘Forrest Gump’, was released. Though, a few of the movies have been boycotted before their release on several accounts including political affiliations, religious aspects as well as a few of the other issues like comments which were made previously by the lead actors. Finally, it could be argued that a movie can never be brought into the list of failure as art and cinema are always well accepted by the people on the basis of content and not on the basis of a narrative of the time.

Is nepotism prevalent?

For the last a couple of years, there has been a serious debate about opportunities in the Bollywood industries. Are they seriously not opened to outside who wish to work coming from a humble background and non-Bollywood families? Does their talent and merit, not get a recognition in the Bollywood industry? Is it totally justifiable to create a narrative that influential people and nepotism are the root-caused for the consistent failure of movies? Introspecting about such above mentioned elements of Bollywood industries becomes a mandatory obligation on part of the movie makers while proposing any movie as things got worse after Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide. A talented young actor, his death was blamed on the alleged debauchery of Bollywood.

To conclude, A few sections of the people known as politically motivated can only pose an artificial threat to the Bollywood, though, which can be minimized easily if the movies are done properly in accordance with the societal aspirations including good content and subjectivities. At the same time, it’s high time for Bollywood industries to avoid facsimile should come forward with new and innovative ideas of filming.

Dr. Ahmed Raza, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration MANUU (A central University), Hyderabad Email: [email protected]


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