The Players

(This is Part 2 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.)

The key players involved so far have been groups and people seeking "justice for Sushant Singh Rajput" and those subscribing to the right-wing Hindutva ideology.

SSR Groups

In 2020, the boycott calls ran parallel with the #JusticeforSSR campaign. In August 2020, 'SSRians' (as they refer to themselves) posted a collage of all the upcoming big releases and called for their boycott, including Pathaan.

As per CrowdTangle, between August and December, there were 130 public posts related to "boycott Pathan" on SSR-related pages and groups on Facebook, with close to 9,000 interactions. 

This video, for instance, from the 2019 IIFA awards, where Shah Rukh Khan and Shahid Kapoor were seen making fun of Sushant Singh Rajput and Ayushmann Khurrana, has resurfaced. 'SSRians' are using the video to appeal for a boycott of Pathaan, and are accusing Shah Rukh of mistreating "outsiders" in Bollywood.

Another clip from SRK's 2015 show, Sabse Shaana Kaun, where Sushant was a guest, has also gone viral. SRK made fun of Sushant on his show, which 'SSRians' refer to as an insult.

Right-Wing Groups

The right-wing claims that its angst against Pathaan and other Bollywood movies stems from the alleged "Islamification" of the industry.

They refer to Bollywood as 'Urduwood', accusing filmmakers of imposing "Islamic culture" on the audience.

We noticed several right-wing influencers pushing these claims on their profiles.

Here is how many followers the following prominent right-wing influencers have on Facebook.

There was also an abundance of such posts on propaganda platforms like Kreately.

Through videos and lives on Facebook, these influencers have been pushing for a boycott of Pathaan.

Their content is mostly centred around themes and claims such as "Bollywood funding terrorism in Pakistan", "Insults to Hindu culture", "Impact on youth," etc.

We also came across some channels that regularly host these right-wing influencers and give them a platform to spread hateful content about Muslims, Khans of Bollywood, and more specifically, the movie Pathaan. 

The influencers, in return, share the interviews and other videos from the news channels on their page, for their followers.

For example, a right-wing influencer was interviewed on a channel called The Lankadahan where he talked about boycotting Pathaan because of the song 'Besharam Rang'. A day later, the interview was then shared by Sushil Tiwari on his page. Tiwari has featured on The Lankadahan's channel multiple times to discuss other issues.

The original video received over 1,63,000 views and was shared by more than 700 accounts.

Another channel called Sach Tak News has also hosted several right-wing influencers.

The Lankadahan has over 37,000 followers, and Sach Tak News has over 17 lakh followers. While the former claims to be based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, the other claims to be based in Patna, Bihar. However, we noticed that both channels hosted the same people.

The person being interviewed in the pictures above was saying similar things against Pathaan and its actors in both videos. 

The right-wing influencer Mohit Raj, of the Hindu Samaj Party, also regularly features on The Lankadahan's channel to speak against Muslims and the Bhim Army.

When not hosting right-wing influencers, the channel conducts vox pops asking people about the boycott campaign, most of whom support it.

On the other hand, Kreately has been continuously posting content targeting Bollywood movies, sometimes focusing on Pathaan. In addition, the page publishes content on how Bollywood is "anti-Hindu."

Other posts target SRK and Padukone for their older statements.

The page posts content mocking SRK for all his promotional activities when not posting about the movie. 

The Counter Campaign,
in Support of Pathaan

While an extensive and coordinated boycott campaign has been brewing, a small yet parallel campaign in support of the movie and the actors is finding some space online too.

We noticed tweets with the following hashtags and phrases: 

Hindustaan Dekhega Pathaan 

The tweets praised SRK and Padukone and asked people to watch the movie.

However, we did notice one piece of misinformation that was spread by the supporters of SRK. An old, clipped video of PM Modi was shared to claim that the prime minister has come out in support of the movie. 

He hasn't, and you can read our fact-check about it here.

The campaign against the movie started in August 2020, when there were only a few reports about the movie's release. The social media posts have grown as the release date approaches, but that's not where it ends.

Right-wing groups in various states have declared that they will torch cinemas that will show the movie.

This online campaign, often based on misinformation and misleading posts, has polluted the internet and comes with the real threat of physical harm and damage.
Next up, in Part 3 of our #BoycottPathaan investigation: watch our video on the key takeaways from the boycott campaign and how the trend was executed.