“Bollywood Boycott” campaigns worry the Indian film industry

“Bollywood Boycott” campaigns worry the Indian film industry

A recent social media trend that pushes audiences to boycott new movies is negatively impacting the box office returns of the Indian film industry, popularly known as Bollywood.

Last month, “Laal Singh Chaddha,” an expensive remake of the 1994 American classic “Forrest Gump,” was released, but was preceded by a concerted campaign on social media sites, most notably Twitter, to boycott the film.

Aamir Khan, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, was forced to make a public declaration of love for India to thwart a virtual campaign waged against him and his latest film.

“I want to assure everyone: I really love my country, so please don’t boycott my films,” Khan told reporters a few days before the film was released.

Political rejection

The boycott calls are linked to an interview with the Muslim star in 2015, in which Khan and his then wife Kiran Rao suggested they could move out of India due to “growing intolerance” and a lack of response from part of the Hindu guide. Government of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in power since 2014.

In August, director Anurag Kashyap’s latest release “Dobaaraa” was also criticized on social media and hit the box office.

“I enjoy it because I feel these trolls want to boycott everything. There is a trend towards a boycott of culture in this country, ”Kashyap said.

“The boycott culture is a joke and I thought I also wanted to be part of the joke and feel important just like the others.”

Another actor, Akshay Kumar, at a recent promotional event asked the audience not to boycott his film “Raksha Bandhan”, arguing that its success would help the country’s economy.

‘An organized campaign’

In addition to stiff competition from streaming services, the ongoing trend of movie boycott has emerged as a significant new concern for Indian filmmakers.

Many see these campaigns as part of a larger movement to suppress freedom of expression in the arts.

“Initially it seemed like a unique thing, but now we continually see that people are not coming to the cinema and I can’t understand why and what is happening,” actor Suniel Shetty said in a recent interview.

A film producer told RFI: “It’s an organized campaign. The movement is led by the right-wing brigade ”.

Given the increasingly hostile environment, few directors are willing to face the boycott campaign. Insiders say the industry trend is to tiptoe around disputes rather than tackle them.

Typically 1,600 to 1,800 films in various languages ​​are produced annually in India. About 200-250 of them are in Hindi language. These are Bollywood movies.

Bollywood’s annual box office earnings amount to just over 30 billion Indian rupees (380 million euros).

During the Covid-19 pandemic, major film productions were shelved or postponed indefinitely, while thousands of cinemas closed, leading to job losses across the country.

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