Sounds like a premature, ill-cooked and extremely judgmental conspiracy theory doesn’t it? Well, allow me to explain. If we consider cinemas as money-making products then Bollywood should be taken as any other industry, albeit a less regulated one. Bollywood has, over a period of time, turned into an assortment of different power centers, power brokers and powerful families. It has turned into an opaque system controlled by influential production houses, directors and actors who decide the overall course of the industry. An industry that is difficult for outsiders to crack and government to control. Often the industry talks in one common tone. And the ones who choose to play a discordant tune are declared pariahs by the entire industry.
Bollywood critics, especially the A-Listers are no exception. They belong to the same cabal of narrative-setting cinemawallahs. Often these critics decide the fate of a movie. So a concerted negative review campaign by the influential cinema critics can dampen the response and business of even the most well made movies. I have a hunch, that Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay might meet a similar negative review campaign. And there are many reasons why I think so:
Ajay Devgn’s proximity to The Bhartiya Janata Party:
Ajay Devgn in a way kick started Narendra Modi’s mass outreach program by hosting his first ever Google hangout. It was after the hangout that Modi did a number of similar social media programs which finally transformed into a mega P.R. campaign that finally won him Country’s top chair in 2014. Ajay Devgn also campaigned for various BJP leaders during the Bihar 2015 Assembly Elections. So it is clear that Ajay Devgn is very close to a party which is despised by a large majority of Bollywood fraternity.
Remember the “Intolerance” and “Award Waapsi” episode when the entire Bollywood erupted in rage against the Modi government? Aamir Khan was thinking about leaving the country and Shah Rukh Khan was thinking of joining the protestors for ‘moral support’. Directors like Anand Patwardhan and Mahesh Bhatt spearheaded the anti-Modi campaign. Their clamors scaled new heights in the Udta Punjab censorship episode.
The Ae Dil Hai Mushkil fiasco
Karan Johar’s multi-starrer “Ae Dil hai Mushkil” releases with Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay. After the Uri Attack, ADHM was at the receiving end of public ire as it featured Pakistani Actor Fawad Khan in a prominent role. There were raging debates about banning Pakistani actors. Industry veteran Om Puri had no qualms in disrespecting the armed forces. Director Anurag Kashyap went on to blame the PM for the fiasco and ADHM director Karan Johar cried hoarse. He finally came up with a dramatic video in which he was seen shedding tears copiously for the Uri Martyrs. The delayed patriotism was a desperate attempt to ensure a smooth release for his film.
Karan Johar heads Dharma Productions, one of the most powerful production houses in the Industry and has associations with some of the most powerful stars and directors in the industry. He also shares an amicable relation with critics who painstakingly review his awful masala movies and pen good words about them. The ADHM episode has annoyed the wrong people and their connections, making a valid case for a negative review campaign for denouncing the competitor – Ajay Devgn and his Shivaay that is.
Ajay Devgn’s bold statements:
Ajay Devgn minced no words when it came to supporting the armed forces and supporting the ban on Pakistani actors. In his own words – Talks are not possible, not at this moment. I heard some people say that talks are the only way to continue. I want to see you getting into a fight with somebody after he gives you a tight slap on your face and you say ‘let’s have a talk right now.
He even criticized Anurag Kashyap for attacking the PM. In Ajay Devgn’s words – We must be responsible about what we are saying. These are people who spoil things. You can’t retaliate in such a way that you have no idea what you are saying, so be responsible enough on what you are saying and what you mean.
So with his strong position on the army and Pakistani Actors, Ajay Devgn has managed to ruffle the wrong people and their connections in the industry and that again makes a valid case for a negative review campaign for denouncing the competitor – Ajay Devgn and his Shivaay that is.
Bollywood’s anti-Hindu stance:
There was a time when Bollywood used to be subtly anti-Hindu. Now with movies like PK, it has declared open animosity with Hinduism. Leaving the lone exception of B.R Chopra’s Nikaah, there has been no Bollywood movie that discusses Triple Talaq. The Self-Hating Hindus claim to be Hindus but they hate everything about Hinduism.
They are ashamed of Hinduism with its countless Gods, of its infinite rites and rituals, of the ancient history of it and the sacred texts of it that do not claim to be the voice of god, yet present truth in the most direct way.
Shivaay from the looks of it, appears like a movie with strong Shaivaite undertones. It looks like a stylized version of a Shiva like character or a Shiva devotee. If that indeed is the case, Shivaay clearly disrespects the set Bollywood narrative. Last movie that disrespected the set narrative was Vivek Agnihotri’s ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam’ when he chose to take on naxals and communists. From Hindustan Times to Huffington Post, The movie was blasted left right and center by almost every movie reviewer. Such appalling reviews for a movie that was screened at over 30 film festivals and was winner of several awards clearly hinted at a sinister propaganda. Shivaay might meet a similar fate.
However, Ajay Devgn is no Vivek Agnihotri. He is one of Industry’s most bankable stars and has 2 national awards under his belt. The star power of Ajay Devgn will be the biggest driving factor for Shivaay. However no star can save a pathetic movie, dwindling collection of Shah Rukh movies already hint at the awakening of an average cinemagoer in India. So if Shivaay turns out to be a bad movie, it will certainly be a disaster.
So folks, if you suddenly see a lot of bad review about Shivaay, do not make a decision right then. Trust those whom you trust or go watch it yourself before jumping to conclusions.