It’s been almost two months since the beginning of 2020, and Bollywood is already panting at the box office. Except for the eponymous blockbuster ‘Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior’, no film has managed to even cross the 100 crore mark, forget being a ‘Blockbuster’ at the box office.
The makers did the mistake of taking the public yet again for granted, as they continued to impose political correctness, virtual signaling and Hinduphobia upon us, and it seems that the masses decided to teach them a lesson for good.
The year 2020 began with propaganda itself. However, the propaganda was lesser visible in the film, and more in its promotions. Directed by Meghna Gulzar, ‘Chhapaak’ centered around the struggles of Malti, based on acid attack survivor cum woman’s rights activist Laxmi Agarwal. The film wasn’t bad on surface level, and despite clashing with a film like ‘Tanhaji’, the film was expected to make a serious impact, both critically and commercially.
However, all of this was destroyed by Deepika Padukone’s unceremonious visit to JNU, where she indirectly supported the hooligans actually accused of orchestrating the on campus violence, and were playing victim card on massive retaliation. Consequently, despite no stone left unturned by the liberal intelligentsia, ‘Chhapaak’, which was expected to make a serious dent on the collections of ‘Tanhaji’, failed to recover its own budget of 40 crore rupees domestically.
The icing on the cake was done by Deepika’s atrocious Tik Tok challenge, reducing the struggles of Laxmi Agarwal to a mere makeup look. On the other hand, ‘Tanhaji’ gained a lot due to this controversy, and despite the bias, it continues to rake in revenue even today, and has breached the coveted figure of 275 crores at the domestic box office. So much for ‘pretentious criticism’.
However, it doesn’t look as if elite Bollywood took any lessons from the same. ‘Street Dancer 3D’, which released on 24 January, was seemingly based on the struggles of an Indian dance troupe to win an international dance competition abroad. However, the focus was less on dance, and more on the lofty ideals of pseudo secularism, and projecting India as a more bigoted nation in comparison to Pakistan. To top it all, the audience had to bear this godforsaken lecture in 3D.
Needless to say, despite the movie being released a couple of days before Republic Day, it failed to attract any attention and earned only 68.17 crore rupees on a budget of 110 crore rupees, making it a second consecutive flop for lead actor Varun Dhawan after the disastrous ‘Kalank’. It is not cool to present sewage as soft drink you know.
Speaking of propaganda, how can we forget ‘Shikara’? Apparently based on the struggle of Kashmiri Pandits, the movie marked the return of Vidhu Vinod Chopra on the director’s seat after 13 years. The movie claimed to present one of the darkest chapters in Bharat’s history, i.e. the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. However, the movie was far from it. Forget throwing light any on the Islamic terrorism rampant at that time, the movie deviated a lot from the main issue, which included potshots at the Ayodhya Ram Janmbhoomi movement.
When a fellow Kashmiri Pandit woman protested at the blatant appeasement of the Kashmiri extremists as shown in the movie, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, as if taunting her, said, ‘We’ll make Shikara 2 for you.’ To top it all, director Vidhu Vinod Chopra and screenplay writer cum author Rahul Pandita mocked people criticizing the movie’s wrong focus, terming them as ‘insensitive donkeys.’ After the movie earned barely 8 crores overall, despite all the drama, we know how who the real donkey is.
Likewise, Imtiaz Ali came back with ‘Love Aaj Kal 2’. A standalone remake of his own movie, starring Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan, the movie was expected to mark the return of the ‘coming of age director’ Imtiaz Ali. However, the movie [which released on Valentine’s Day] was severely disliked by the masses, and despite a significant collection in the opening weekend, the movie crashed from Monday onwards, and in the end got restricted to a lifetime domestic collection of less than 35 crore rupees on a budget of 60 crores.
However, this is elite Bollywood, which takes humiliation from the masses as a tonic for themselves. They came up next with ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan’. Based on a relationship between a homosexual couple, the movie was apparently a take on how Indian perceive homosexual relationships, and how we should accept them as they are.
Now that’s not a bad idea, since this is 21st century, and everyone has a right to live with dignity. However, there’s a difference between depicting a sensitive issue with ease and in a proper manner, and imposing something on the masses. It seems that Ayushmann Khurrana forgot his own formula of depicting sensitive issues in the sweetest way possible, as ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan’ looked more like a liberal intellectual’s lecture on the issue, rather than a quirky take on homosexual relationships.
It is rather a surprise as to why Ayushmann, who has done films like ‘Vicky Donor’, ‘Dum Laga ke Haisha’, ‘Shubh Mangal Savdhan’, ‘Dream Girl’ and ‘Bala’ to name a few, is doing such films. But then, he also did movies like ‘Bewakoofiyan’, ‘Hawaizaada’ and ‘Article 15’, so mistakes happen. Though ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan’ is not a flop, it has only earned Rs. 50 crores as of now at the domestic box office, on a budget of Rs. 45 crores, which is certainly not a welcome news for an actor like Ayushmann, whose last 7 films had crossed the 50 crores mark in the opening week, sometimes even the opening weekend itself.
However, another man who bit dust at the box office was the Anubhav Sinha directed Thappad. Based on the domestic violence, the movie was projected as a ‘befitting reply’ to the ‘misogyny’ of ‘Kabir Singh’, as in the words of the ‘queen of befitting replies’, Taapsee Pannu. However, the movie, with unidimensional characters, and a lackluster plot, failed to attract much audience, and despite the plethora of paeans sung by paid critics, Thappad has earned barely Rs. 21 crores at the domestic box office till now, significantly below the budget of Rs. 28 crore rupees. So much for woke feminism.
Perhaps Bollywood has forgotten that even today, the will of the masses reign supreme. A ‘celebrity’ critic might write paeans for a movie, but if the audience doesn’t like it, nothing on earth can save that movie from complete annihilation at the box office. What began as an aberration in 2018 is now a stern warning to the members of elite Bollywood. This is 2020, where virtue signaling, Hinduphobia and closet propaganda have few to no takers, especially at the box office.