The last two-three years have been very difficult for the movie industries all over the world and Bollywood is no exception. After the pandemic ravaged the world, the theatrical business came to a standstill and it took a while for the box office to come back on track. But in the case of Bollywood, certain vested interests tried to make the comeback process difficult. These trolls began flooding our timelines with Boycott trends on alarming regularity. But with the mega blockbuster success of Pathaan, which was also their target, it can finally be said that this troll movement has breathed its last.
RIP Bollywood Trolls (2020 – January 25, 2023): Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan does a ‘surgical strike’ on the trolls; audiences express support to him via their wallet
The movement began after the unfortunate and untimely demise of Sushant Singh Rajput. A narrative was spread that the big Bollywood baddies like Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor, Aditya Chopra etc drove Sushant to end his life. Some days later, they changed their stand and claimed that he was murdered and that the whole industry participated in doing so. Though the authorities couldn’t find any evidence or even motive for Bollywood to do so, the trolls continued their tirade. Some gullible people, too, joined in the ‘protests’, especially when these trolls bombarded social media and WhatsApp with their messages and also when some prominent Bollywood celebs, unfortunately, backed them.
The trolls then started celebrating as they believed that their movement was successful, and that Bollywood was badly affected. If the ‘boycotted films’ had a chance to release in cinemas in 2020, their huge opening day collections would have made it clear that this trolling has had no impact. But then this was a time when theatres were shut. Several films were released on OTT and trolls used their might (and even fake handles) to dislike trailers of upcoming films on YouTube and give them 1 rating on IMDb. Sadak 2 (2020), starring Alia Bhatt, their favourite target, was massively trolled as it got the most dislikes ever. That the film was poorly made, it motivated the trolls to pan it further.
This drama continued in 2021; they also started hailing South films as the ‘ideal Indian films’ which are far more entertaining and which respect religious ideas. This is when Pushpa (2021), RRR (2022) and KGF - Chapter 2 (2022) became blockbusters. The trolls felt that their movement was making an impact as viewers were rejecting Hindi content because they told them to do so and that audiences were looking for entertainment elsewhere.
But the biggest show of delusion was when these trolls went into a celebration mode when Laal Singh Chaddha (2022) bombed. It starred Aamir Khan who’s been non-stop on their radar since he commented on intolerance. As luck would have it, the trailer of the film didn’t work for the majority of the audience. Even songs didn’t get thumbs up. The film didn’t fetch a desirable opening and when word spread that it was slow, boring and niche, the collections didn’t grow.
It was clear to any sensible person that had Laal Singh Chaddha been a commercial, massy fare, no one could have stopped it from becoming a blockbuster. But then the trolls had stopped using common sense from day 1. They patted themselves on their back and congratulated each other for flopping the film. What also made things tricky is when Aamir Khan, during the promotions, appealed to the trolls to not boycott. This needlessly empowered them.
The trolls did face some major obstacles in these two years. Alia Bhatt-starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) was made fun of and they were confident that it would flop. But the Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directorial was a Rs. 129.10 crores grosser. The trolls tried their best to pull it down, citing Alia being underage for the role and that the film encourages prostitution. The public felt otherwise. Then the other Alia Bhatt film, Brahmastra (2022), also had no impact on these netizens. It was trolled left, right and centre. Yet, it collected Rs. 257.44 crores. The trolls, unable to bear the humiliation, consoled themselves by claiming that the collections were fake!
And they used all their might to target Pathaan when its promotions began. The teaser was met with calls for a boycott. Then the song ‘Besharam Rang’ was ridiculed for hurting religious sentiments since Deepika Padukone was seen wearing an orange-coloured bikini. This controversy was laughable and backfired miserably. In fact, it made people even more curious to see the film. Shah Rukh Khan, the lead actor, was also trolled. But the trolls didn’t realize that he has had a powerful following for years. Moreover, the way his son Aryan was targeted during the 2021 drugs case and SRK maintaining a dignified silence, despite provocation, all went in favour of the Baadshah. And most importantly, the trailer and songs of Pathaan promised complete entertainment and it was evident that audiences can’t wait to see it.
Just before the release, the troll machinery became super-active as they made up new hashtags and used every trick possible to ensure they get a ‘success’ like Laal Singh Chaddha with Pathaan. And looking at their comments, they were confident that Pathaan would flop or at least would underperform.
However, their movement passed away on January 25, 2023, and how. Pathaan opened beyond expectations, collecting Rs. 58 crores. The social media timelines and WhatsApp of people were flooded with videos of people pouring into cinemas and dancing to ‘Jhoome Jo Pathaan’ in hordes. And that’s not all. Pathaan, on the second day, collected a mind-boggling Rs. 70.50 crores. This is the highest-ever collection by a film in a single day. The film then didn’t drop on the non-holiday third day and the way it’s performing, it is all set to cross the earnings of Dangal (2016; Rs. 387.38 crores) and even KGF - Chapter 2 (Rs. 434.70 crores).
The theatrical performance of Pathaan was akin to a ‘surgical strike’ on trolls who simply irritated people with their eyesore tweets. Amusingly, the trolls are still trying to make people believe that the collections reported are fake, cinemas halls are empty and that the producers of Pathaan are panicking! But it’s clear that they are getting support from other fellow trolls only in a classic case of echo chamber. Hence, it can be fairly said that the ‘Boycott Bollywood’ movement has finally died as from hereon, no one will believe that they are capable of boycotting or bringing the industry to its knees, which they had set out to achieve.
Also Read: “Action is Shah Rukh Khan’s most underrated quality,” says Pathaan co-star Deepika Padukone; John Abraham agrees
More Pages: Pathaan Box Office Collection , Pathaan Movie Review
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