The Clamour

(This is Part 1 of a three-part series investigating the #BoycottPathaan trend. Click on the links below, or use the navigation bar at the top of your screen, to read the other parts.)

Reports about the release of Pathaan were published in August 2020 on various entertainment and news websites. This is when we first noticed the calls to boycott the film.

To understand the origins of the boycott calls, let's go back to June 2020.

Along with Laal Singh Chaddha and Brahmastra, it was Pathaan that faced the flak.
In an earlier story on the #BoycottBollywood trend, we had detailed how the right-wing groups and people "supporting SSR" were the ones who were feeding this trend.

As per data on CrowdTangle, posts with the text "संघर्ष निरंतर जारी हैं अब पठान की बारी हैं" ("Our agitation continues relentlessly, and Pathaan is our next target") had around 1,44,000 interactions on public pages and groups on Facebook between 14 August and 20 August alone.

Here's a sample of how hundreds of posts with this exact same image were posted in that period.

This trend continued through August and September, and we also noticed posts that called for the boycott of Salman Khan's upcoming film Tiger 3.

And most recently, it was after the release of 'Besharam Rang', Pathaan's first song, that #BoycottPathaan started trending again. On Twitter, it was one of the top trends for the next three days.

The song released on 12 December but the trend started gaining momentum the previous night.
And once the song released, the calls grew louder.

This Twitter screenshot was taken at 10:00 am on 13 December 2022.

This Twitter screenshot was taken at 10:00 am on 13 December 2022.

The reason for targeting 'Besharam Rang'?

The song showed Deepika Padukone in a saffron bikini and this was supposedly enough to offend people.

And yet again, Deepika was targeted for visiting the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in January 2020, just two days after violence had broken out on the campus.

But this 'outrage' over her clothes was not limited to just some users online, even political leaders and ministers raised objections.

BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said that the song was "shot with a dirty mindset", BJP MLA Ram Kadam said that "no film insulting Hindutva will be tolerated".

This was also used as an opportunity to target Shah Rukh and his religion to claim that he disrespects Hindus and India.

In fact, an old clip of his movie Don 2, where he was shown in a Malaysian jail wearing an orange uniform, was peddled as a clip from Pathaan. (You can read our fact-check here.)

Next up, in Part 2 of our #BoycottPathaan investigation: read more about the people behind the outrage.