One of Bollywood’s biggest actors, Aamir Khan, made a public pledge of love for India at the beginning of August to combat a virtual campaign being run against him and his most recent film.
I just want to let everyone know that I genuinely do love my nation. So, please don’t boycott my movies, Khan pleaded with a gathering of journalists on August 1, ten days before Laal Singh Chaddha, a Hindi version of the Forrest Gump picture, was set for release.
The declaration was made after #BoycottLaalSinghChaddha had been trending on Twitter for weeks. Thousands of anonymous handles, many of whom were linked with the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Hindu-first, majoritarian ideology, propagated the boycott posts, videos, and messages, many of which were clearly anti-Islamic.
Some said that Khan, a Muslim, was anti-Hindu. They noted his 2014 movie PK, in which he played an alien who lands in India and is perplexed by how the believers are used for religious purposes.
Others dug out old Khan videos, including one from November 2015 in which he spoke of a growing sense of “insecurity, anxiety, and melancholy” brought on by increased mob violence, Muslim lynchings, religious intolerance, and the BJP government’s and the police’s inaction in the face of these issues.
The prevailing opinion in Bollywood is that no issue can deter India’s film-obsessed public from seeing a movie if they want to, and Khan, 57, is one of the industry’s most bankable actors.
The biggest earning Indian movie both domestically and internationally is still his 2016 film Dangal (Wrestling Competition), which is about a father who trains his two young children to wrestle. According to the ranking, PK is the seventh-highest-grossing Indian movie.
Laal Singh Chaddha, a movie with a $22–25 million budget, has been in development since 2018, and its release was anticipated to cheer up Bollywood, which has been experiencing financial difficulties since the COVID pandemic.
However, the box office consensus was that the movie is Khan’s biggest failure.
Soon after the movie’s debut, theatres all around the nation reportedly cancelled about 1,300 showing due to low attendance and substituted Karthikeya 2, a brief Telugu movie with Hindi dubbing.
It was anticipated that it would gross $25 million during its three to four week theatrical run in India, with the majority of that money coming in the first week. But its entire recovery won’t exceed $16–17 million, according to distributor.
It comes as a shock to the sector.