The boycott trend has become the norm on Twitter in the past few years and has hit Bollywood films way too hard this year. From Laal Singh Chaddha to Pathaan, Bollywood faced a boycott with every film announcement they made in 2022.
It is not like it began this year, it dates back to 2014 when Aamir Khan’s film PK faced a lot of flak and some people called for its boycott across the country for the film’s poster, and the depiction of Hindu gods in the film. In the film’s poster, Aamir was shown naked with a radio covering his private parts which triggered the moral police and an FIR was registered against the actor. The film was also criticised for showing Indian yogis in a negative light which was not well received by some Hindu extremist organisations.
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Later in 2016, Lipstick Under My Burkha faced boycott from the All India Muslim Tehwar Committee had objected to the portrayal of Muslim women citing reasons of hurting religious sentiments and had called for legal action against the film. Again, in 2018, Deepika Padukone starrer Padmaavat was embroiled in several controversies both before and after its release. In fact, the film began facing problems since it went on the floors and its set was attacked by religious extremist groups. It received flak for an alleged intimate scene between the Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji and Hindu queen Padmavati, the songs Ghoomar was criticised because Padukone’s belly was visible. Later, the filmmaker had to add VFX effects to cover it. The film’s title was also changed from Padmavati to Padmaavat.
However, it had not turned into a trend back then. It rose in the aftermath of the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in 2020 and the effect was visible in 2022 with the reopening of theatres after the lockdown and people began flocking to the theatres full-fledged this year after the coronavirus pandemic.
In the aftermath of the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death on July 14, 2020 by suicide, several controversies emerged including nepotism, the media trial of his girlfriend actor Rhea Chakraborty, and the “witch” hunt that followed.
Several Bollywood celebrities were dragged into conversations about nepotism and how it was the primary reason for Rajput’s death including filmmaker Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt among several others. They were blamed for sidelining “outsiders” in the industry.
During this time released the 2020 Hindi film Sadak 2, starring Sanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt, and Aditya Roy Kapur, a sequel to the 1991 Sanjay Dutt film Sadak. The film’s trailer was released in August 2020 on YouTube which soon became the second most disliked video on the platform with the ongoing nepotism controversy. However, with the theatres closed, fewer Bollywood films were released and most of them were released on OTT platforms and the industry had not experienced the trend’s hit yet.
In 2022, as the A-lister’s films, which were shelved, began taking to the big screens and audiences began going to the theatres, Bollywood experienced the blow of the Boycott trend. Earlier, when films were boycotted, the A-listers’ names were still enough to attract the crowd to the theatres such as Padmaavat and PK which turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the years. But, this time it failed. Even films like Laal Singh Chadha with names like Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor associated with them and Vikram Vedha with names like Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan couldn’t bring the crowd to the theatres.
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However, nepotism is not the only reason behind the #BoycottBollywood trend. These films faced the trend in the name of religious conflict as well. Laal Singh Chaddha faced boycott before its release because some people deemed him to be ‘anti-Hindu’. While Vikram Vedha faced it because he praised Aamir and his film Laal Singh Chaddha. Neither of the films could even reach ₹150 crores.
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