Yet another Bollywood film is being subjected to calls of boycott ahead of its release. Set to hit the silver screens on 9 September, Ayan Mukerji's Brahmastra has been embroiled in controversies for myriad reasons.
What started as a social media boycott has now turned into a full-blown protest on the streets. On Tuesday, 6 September, Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor were in Ujjain to visit the Mahakaleshwar Temple. The parents-to-be were prevented from entering the temple by Bajrang Dal activists.
The protestors were offended by a 2011 interview where Ranbir Kapoor spoke about his fondness for beef. While promoting his film 'Rockstar' the actor had stated, "My family is from Peshawar, so a lot of Peshawari food has come with them. I am a mutton, paya, and beef fan. Yeah, I am a big beef fan."
Moreover, people are now taking offense to the actor's guest appearance in the 2014 film PK, where Aamir Khan's character is seen placing stickers of Hindu Gods on Ranbir's cheeks for self-defence.
Alia Bhatt is also being trolled for saying in a recent interview, "If you don't like me, don't watch me."
Boycotting Bollywood films even before they have hit theatres is an increasingly recent trend. From nudity in film posters to dream sequences that don’t actually exist, people have been mass-offended by films in India than they have by tangible violations.
Here are seven other movies people 'boycotted' for unfounded reasons:
1. My Name is Khan (2010)
Directed by Karan Johar and starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, the film was not even released when Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia called for its boycott. The subsequent outrage was caused because Shah Rukh expressed disappointment about the exclusion of Pakistani cricketers from the Indian Premier League.
"To mark protest against SRK for his advocating cause of Pakistan, the movie should be boycotted by the every true Indian", Togadia had said.
Shah Rukh had later tweeted that he was sad to see his statement being misconstrued. "Sad my statements are seen as a stand against a group instead of a stand for myself and my individuality. Differences in ideology should be grounds for debates and discussion. A must for freedom of thought. To see it any other way is so unfortunate," the superstar had written.
2. PK (2014)
One of the first film posters of the Rajkumar Hirani film featured a naked Aamir Khan in the titular role, holding a strategically placed radio set. That was enough to trigger the moral police and have FIRs filed against the actor. Furthermore, after the film was released and its themes of religious critique were brought to light, there were full-blown calls for boycotting the film by several Hindu leaders. Baba Ramdev urged for a social boycott of the film and criticized the makers for denigrating Hindu culture.
"These days any random person comes up with objectionable statements against Hindu religion. It seems like big personalities are fond of insulting Hindu deities", Ramdev had stated.
The film went on to become a blockbuster.
3. Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)
From claiming the film had “abusive words and audio pornography” to its themes being “too lady-oriented”, Alankrita Srivastava’s second film received a host of resistance and backlash from religious groups, the general public and even the Central Board of Film Certification. Once the film finally released with an Adult rating, religious groups further pushed for a boycott. The All India Muslim Tehwar Committee urged the Centre to ban the film for "hurting" the community's religious feelings.
"If somebody peeps into the burkha worn by our sisters and daughters, we won't remain silent", the committee had stated.
4. Dangal (2016)
In 2015, Kiran Rao opened up about feeling unsafe in India, owing to the country’s growing intolerance towards minorities. Her ex-husband, Aamir Khan, also echoed the same sentiments. Proving both of them quite right, Indians took immense umbrage and deemed Aamir and Kiran to be "anti-national". The actor’s posters and effigies were burnt and #BoycottDangal was trending on social media, in light of his upcoming film. These tweets have now resurfaced and led to yet another boycott against him.
5. Padmaavat (2018)
Despite Bhansali’s repeated clarifications about the film having no such dream sequence, the Karni Sena attacked the filmmaker, vandalized sets and held fierce protests in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. A BJP minister even announced a hefty reward for anyone who beheaded the filmmaker and the lead actors, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.
6. Chhapaak (2020)
In light of the CAA-NRC protests and subsequent police brutalities on students, Deepika Padukone took the nation by storm by visiting Jawaharlal Nehru University, where she stood in solidarity with student protestors. Ahead of the release of her new film, Chhapaak, several right-wing groups called her support a gimmick for publicity. Many claimed that she was being paid by the opposition party. BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga took to Twitter to call for a mass-boycott of all films starring Padukone.
7. Sadak 2 (2020)
Mahesh Bhatt’s directorial comeback, starring daughter Alia Bhatt, received heavy backlash and calls for boycotting amidst actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely death. One of the most popular theories behind his death held Bollywood stars responsible and brought the discourse around nepotism in the film Industry to the fore again. Both Alia and Mahesh Bhatt were on the receiving end of targeted harassment and the trailer amassed one of the highest number of dislikes on YouTube. People even began uninstalling Hotstar ahead of the release of Sadak 2, which was called a “product of nepotism” by boycotters.