Both Aamir Khan-starrer Laal Singh Chaddha and Akshay Kumar-starrer Raksha Bandhan faced ‘boycott’ campaigns on social media, though the former faced it more. The trolls spread the narrative that Aamir Khan is ‘anti-national’ and they tried to prove it by claiming that he hurt religious sentiments in PK (2014) and that he hinted that India is intolerant in 2015.
Did the Boycott campaign affect the collections of Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha and Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandhan? Trade experts share their views
Did the boycott campaign lead to a poor day 1 for Laal Singh Chaddha? Trade veteran Taran Adarsh replied, “There has been some effect of the boycott campaign. Let’s face it. Even Aamir Khan addressed this issue. He was feeling the heat and therefore, he came on record to speak about it.”
But he also said, “Having said that, any film which is in rich in merits can take boycott; Exams, IPL, bad weather and any other kind of opposition. In case of Laal Singh Chaddha, the film was devoid of merit. Also, when an A-lister is making an expensive film, he has to cater to an all-India audience. You can’t target your film just for the premium multiplexes. It is understandable when Aamir makes a film like Taare Zameen Par. It’s budget was also reasonable. But Laal Singh Chaddha was expensive and yet, wasn’t a film for audiences across India. Aap interiors mein haalat dekho picture ki.”
The rest of the experts didn’t agree though. Trade analyst Atul Mohan said, “I don’t think the boycott campaign had any effect. The way the social media had gone berserk over boycott calls, had it had an effect, Laal Singh Chaddha would not even have had a double digit opening.”
Girish Johar, producer and film business analyst, said, “I don’t believe that boycott is the reason. Social media is too small a fraction to cause a boycott effect on cinema. I wouldn’t have taken into account the word of mouth had there been a start at the ticket window. For example, Thugs Of Hindostan also had a negative word of mouth. However, it managed to get audiences in hordes on day 1. So, when there’s no start at the box office, clearly, the star pull is diminishing in general for the Hindi film industry. None of the big stars have given a good start at the box office this year. Many Hollywood and South films, meanwhile, have opened very well. So, the audience is clearly there but they are not excited that much to watch a Hindi film at present.”
Owner of Entertainment Paradise in Jaipur Raj Bansal, in agreement noted, “Boycott didn’t matter. Dono films kharaab hai. In the near future, the films of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan could also get boycotted. But if these films are well-made entertainers, then nothing can stop them from doing Rs. 250 crores plus business. It all depends on the products.”
Improvement in the weekend?
Laal Singh Chaddha and Raksha Bandhan both released on Thursday, August 11. Monday, August 15, is a national holiday due to it being Independence Day. As a result, the film enjoys a five-day weekend. Hence, is it fair to say that all is not lost and these films can still work?
Taran Adarsh opined, “Raksha Bandhan has an edge in the mass circuits. Even on day 1, it was ahead of Laal Singh Chaddha in mass centres. So it’ll manage to get decent numbers. In multiplexes, it’s not performing. Laal Singh Chaddha is scoring in a few multiplexes in a few cities.”
Girish Johar said, “These films do have a chance as both are word of mouth and family films. But the trajectory of both the films are not good. I hope some miracle happens and they collect more than Rs. 100 crores at the box office. However, the costing of these films and the actor’s fees have completely gone for a toss. So, we need to get the ecosystem in sync.”
Raj Bansal, meanwhile, feels that long weekend can prove detrimental, “A five-day weekend does more damage than good, in my opinion. A lot of people like to take advantage of it and go for a holiday or visit their family in their hometown. Watching films in theatres is not the priority.”
When asked what the industry should be done to improve the numbers, Taran Adarsh said, “There has to be rethinking on the kind of movies that are being made and the star prices should be brought down. The stars are still sleeping. When will they wake up, no one has an idea.”
Girish Johar felt that all hope is not lost, “Films like Laal Singh Chaddha are pre-pandemic products. So that’s a small saving grace that these films are old while the audiences have matured in terms of their tastes after consuming content on OTT.”
Raj Bansal painted a dismal picture as he remarked, “2022 will be remembered as the year when almost all top actors and actresses have given the worst ever performance in the history of Indian cinema. Taapsee Pannu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Akshay Kumar, Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor, Tiger Shroff – all have given major flops.”
He signed off by saying, “Don’t blame the audience. The industry is to blame. We are not making good cinema.”
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