Boycott Culture Impacting Art
If you remember the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter movement, you will definitely be reminded of the calling out or the cancel culture that emerged at that time. The cancel culture advanced and formed into staunch ostracism and turned into what we call today as 'boycott culture'. From mere protests to legal notices to now direct boycotts on social media platforms and elsewhere. Now, this doesn't mean that boycott culture didn't exist in the past, it did, during the British rule in India, but it has retrieved in its newest form.
Boycott Bollywood is the term that’s trending in recent times. Although certain films stood the test of time, some from Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri's The Tashkent Files and The Kashmir Files, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat, Mahesh Bhatt's Sadak 2, Aanand L. Rai's Raksha Bandhan, Advait Chandan's Laal Singh Chaddha, and Anurag Kashyap's Dobaaraa suffered due to the boycott culture. What I notice is the growing intolerance in the country against the Freedom of Speech. We are slowly but gradually becoming an Orwellian country; egoistic, arrogant, and intolerant. And this kind of attitude forces artists to take the back seat. Are we moving backward? Are we slipping ourselves into a dystopian world where certain people are targeted regularly?
Watching 'Laal Singh Chaddha' after having watched 'Forest Gump' was for me although repetitive but a fantastically enriching experience. Because I felt that the movie became truly relatable given the Indian narrative. Now, just because you do not want to accept the harsh undeniable history doesn't mean you would boycott the movie.
Also Read: The Changing Narrative with Cancel Culture
The Boycott Bollywood trend is not just impacting these movies but also those responsible to make it behind the curtains. Art in specific is being affected. The Indian Cinema has a rich past. The number of diverse movies made in India cannot be compared to any other country in the world. Indian Cinema has progressed drastically, from 1896 to 1930 it was a silent era, from 1931 to 1950 there was an introduction of talkies and colour into the movies, from 1950- 1960 it was called the golden era of the industry, and from 1961 to 1980 there were masala movies made alongside parallel cinema, from 1981 to 2000 there was an introduction of the studio system and big budget films were made, from 2000 to now we are exploring the contemporary cinema.
With the blockbuster Baahubali, we slowly moved towards Pan-India releases, and the definition that existed earlier, the definition that helped us identify movies into Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood, and Sandalwood is no more trending. Thus, this boycott culture only speaks for an audience that is being lured by a certain group of people and their ideologies. And that is going to affect the art of movie-making. Art needs its freedom and if this freedom is curtailed by a certain few then art gets nipped in the bud.
A film is not just the effort of the actor that one is boycotting. It is the effort of the team that works for the common good. For us, it is easy to brush the hard work of another as though nothing went behind the refined work of entertainment we have before us. Given the growing boom in OTT platforms, the audiences should have grown mature to make decisions by themselves to understand the variety of content that is being created and the amount of work that goes behind making it. Thus, a boycott culture of this sort will not solve problems related to Nepotism or bring justice to Sushant Singh Rajput which it vehemently vouches to resolve.
The audience thus needs to make a prudent decision when it comes to following the herd. It is best to think of one's fellow brethren working at the different structure of the industry who depends on the success or failure of the art product created. So better than sloganizing boycotts and affecting art, it would be beneficial to change the system that we are part of and corrupted with.
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