Bots happening to credible criticism?

When Brahmastra had a spectacular opening on Friday, a section of the entertainment industry was very unhappy.

Subhash K Jha September 15, 2022 08:51:50 IST
Bots happening to credible criticism?

Masks being the lifeline of the post-pandemic era, Brahmastra is being attacked and discredited by unknown assailants. An image of a vast empty movie theatre in Argentina shot eleven years ago is doing the rounds on the net masquerading as a theatre in India showing Brahmastra.

The shows are going full. The film collected over Rs 100 crore over its first weekend. But the bots (the new terror outfits targeting our cinema) insist Brahmastra is a flop! As a wise man once said, there is no man more blind than the one who refuses to see the truth.

Malicious misrepresentation is a serious crime. Social activists and media persons have gone to jail for it. Who is going to pull up these hired miscreants, or ‘bots’ as they are known, for trying so desperately to take away from the success of Brahmastra?

When Brahmastra had a spectacular opening on Friday, a section of the entertainment industry was very unhappy. I could understand their consternation. With their own precious products tanking without a trace, it is difficult to be generous about others’ success.

Jab apne ghar mein aag lagi ho toh kaisi Diwali (when your home is burning down how can you celebrate Diwali)?” a veteran producer described the unwillingness of the industry to accept Karan Johar’s success as their own.

It is one thing to be resentful about your neighbour’s success. It is quite another to transmute the ill will into a septic malevolence that borders on homicidal hatred. The fury of the campaign to discredit Brahmastra is beyond any hatred I’ve seen. The trolls are very sure they want the film to flop. When their boycott campaign didn’t work they are now targeting those who like Brahmastra.

Kitne paise mile hain, Sir?” a troll asked me after I tweeted in praise of Brahmastra. I liked the respectful tone of that troll. As soon as the money for praising Brahmastra arrives I would like to share with the troll. I will bill it my accounts as troll tax.

The success of Brahmastra proves many things: the spectacle is the only seducer in cinemas. The 3D format is the future of the movie-theatre business. More than anything else, it proves the ineffectuality of the boycott culture. You can’t kill the audiences’ enthusiasm by posing as the anti-nepotism, pro-Hindutva faceless flag waver on social media.

What needs to be addressed seriously is the rot and the lack of unity within the film industry.

 

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A leading filmmaker called and nastily told me to stop supporting Karan Johar. The epithets that followed are unmentionable. Although this (mis)leading filmmaker meant it as an insult I don’t think being Sindhi or homosexual is an insult. But undermining a film’s success and discrediting its team by questioning their creative faculties or sexual preference, is an insult to the entire film industry.

There are films that deserve to be trolled. Then there is that uncomplaining minority of films that are trolled for reasons other than intrinsic lack of merit. This is the poison that needs to be stopped from spreading immediately before it seeps down to a place where there is no redemption. Digging up dirt to disgrace an actor or a filmmaker, questioning his or her food habits, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, to pull down films is just not acceptable. It should be made a cognizable offence.

If you think I won’t watch Brahmastra because you have a hidden agenda, then I am sorry you are barking up the wrong tree.

Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.

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