Many were taken by surprise when Deepika Padukone landed at the JNU campus in order to show ‘solidarity’ with the victims of violence that occurred there. Deepika’s JNU move came two days before ‘Chhapaak’ was released.
Directed by Meghna Gulzar, the film Chhapaak revolves around a real-life incident faced by Laxmi Agarwal of Delhi, whose face was disfigured using acid by one Nadeem Khan in 2005. Ever-since the release of its trailer, the movie garnered immense support and traction, and also appreciation from all quarters. A film with a social message, Chhapaak was all set to be a blockbuster hit, until Deepika’s JNU visit.
For many, Deepika’s decision (or her PR team’s decision) to join the protests at JNU was grossly insensitive, and also a cheap attempt at free publicity. Many were not miffed by her decision to display solidarity with the students of JNU, but were rather disappointed seeing her do so towards only one faction of students – those belonging to the Left.
However, Deepika’s decision to visit JNU which was nothing less than a PR stunt has backfired as the movie has failed to make it big at the box office and many believe her visit to the JNU is the major cause behind the failure of the movie.
Chhapaak, which released on January 10, registered a low start and has failed to excel at the box office. Chhapaak opened with Rs 4.77 crore and went on to make Rs 6.90 crore and Rs 7.35 crore on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Till Thursday, the film had earned Rs 28.38 crore causing the movie to be termed a failure. The film, Chhapaak also failed as it clashed with the much awaited ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ starring Ajay Devgn, which has been a massive hit at the box office.
#Chhapaak disappoints… Lacklustre trending in Week 1… Partial holidays [Tue and Wed] helped marginally… Will find the going tough in Week 2… Fri 4.77 cr, Sat 6.90 cr, Sun 7.35 cr, Mon 2.35 cr, Tue 2.55 cr, Wed 2.61 cr, Thu 1.85 cr. Total: ₹ 28.38 cr. #India biz.
— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) January 17, 2020
It may be recalled that Deepika standing only with the JNUSU representatives enraged many, who instantly started calling for a boycott of her film. Within moments of her visit, #boycottchhapaak was a top trend on Twitter, with many vowing to ensure that the film is a major flop, and as now the collections of the movie reflect that Chhapaak has been a failure at the box office.
Deepika Padukone’s JNU visit could be termed as a coordinated PR stunt which backfired due to lack of understanding of the people, who immediately started the boycott campaign against the movie as well as the actress. The movie which is based on a noble idea of depicting an acid attack survivor, Laxmi, was boycotted due to the ‘solidarity’ stunt of the actress.
But, this will not have a lasting effect over the actress’ career as perhaps being the number one in the Bollywood, Deepika will have a lot of commercial assignments lined up, however this miscalculation (PR stunt) has caused disservice to that noble idea and towards Laxmi, the acid attack survivor.
Laxmi could be seen as the real loser here as her story remained unheard while her dilemma and sufferings were neglected due to the foolish political stunt of the actress. Laxmi’s story and her strength could have been an inspiration for the people if not snubbed. Deepika’s visit to JNU polarised the people resulting in the boycott. The movie failed despite the fact that it was made tax free in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
We have seen actors and actresses get involved in this kind of PR stunts before the release of their movies, but they must also realize the futility and outcomes of these low conscience stunts. In this case, it was childish for Deepika to extend her solidarity only for the JNUSU neglecting the other victims, who were also affected by the violence in the campus.
Among all this, it is indeed sad that the victim around whom this film revolves, Laxmi Agarwal’s story, is lost. Her story could have been a beacon for Indians to learn from and remember, however, owing to the antics of Deepika Padukone and the film’s production team, many boycotted the film. Laxmi deserved much better than this, however, her story was lost in the noise around petty student politics.