• Monday, May 16, 2022

Arts and Culture

New nightmares on Bollywood street

IN HOT WATER: Rhea Chakraborty

By: Manju Chandran

DISLIKES, DRUGS AND PUBLIC ANGER SEND STARS INTO A PANIC

by ASJAD NAZIR

CRIPPLING losses caused by cinema closures globally was already giving Bollywood sleepless nights, but the investigation into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and the subsequent fall-out is giving the entire industry huge nightmares.

A perfect illustration of this is the carnage that is happening on YouTube and IMDB. Millions have taken to the sites to vent their anger at Hindi film nepotism and the industry’s apparent lack of empathy for Sushant’s death, which is looking like a murder, by disliking uploaded Bollywood trailers and giving low ratings.

First Sadak 2 got a record-breaking number of dislikes and became the second most hated video in YouTube history, with over 12 million dislikes. Songs from the film uploaded on YouTube also received negativity with dislikes massively outnumbering likes. Sadak 2 then became the lowest-rated film of all time on IMDB after tens of thousands of people gave it 1 out of 10.

Then the trailer of supernatural comedy Khaali Peeli quickly followed by becoming the fastest ever to reach a million dislikes in the fewest views. Within two days of being uploaded, Khaali Peeli became the second most disliked trailer of all time, behind Sadak 2. To put it in perspective, third placed Ghostbusters (2016) took four years to reach 1.1 million dislikes, but Khaali Peeli passed it within 48 hours.

Khaali Peeli

The terror is now apparent with many high-profile films reluctant to upload trailers for fear of being embarrassed and setting new records.

This week’s big Bollywood release Laxmmi Bomb has its world premiere on Hotstar, September 9, and reportedly sold for the highest price of all the recent direct to streaming site Hindi films. Its trailer was supposed to get revealed on August 18 and at the time of going to press still hadn’t been released, which shows how real the fear is. Other forthcoming films like Coolie No. 1 are having second thoughts about releasing trailers and songs, but YouTube is a major promotional tool and not having a meaningful presence will harm a movie.

Laxmmi Bomb

My sources have told me other stars are petrified about having their trailer released online and many are already so mentally tortured by the barrage of hate, they are suffering anxiety attacks for the first time.

While the industry comes to terms with that nightmare of online hate on social media and YouTube, an even bigger scare has spooked stars in a way not seen before when one of the industry’s biggest skeletons came tumbling out of the closet.

Multiple Indian news outlets accessed WhatsApp conversations where actress Rhea Chakraborty is allegedly discussing banned drugs with talent manager Jaya Saha. The massive media coverage about the alleged drug chat was quickly followed by reports that the narcotics bureau of India would be opening an investigation in the connection between Bollywood and drugs. Controversial actress Kangana Ranaut then weighed into proceedings by sending out multiple posts on social media, accusing Bollywood of being drug infested and volunteering to reveal all to the narcotics bureau. Kangana then did an hour-long TV interview about the drug problem in Bollywood and said most of the industry was taking banned narcotics, including cocaine.

Kangana Ranaut

With their reputation already battered, Bollywood stars taking illegal drugs will be living in fear of being exposed in light of the major narcotic bureau investigation that has just started. This has sent a wave of panic through those in Bollywood taking banned substances.

This barrage of hate directed towards Bollywood online, the failure of films recently premiered onto streaming sites and police investigations aren’t going to motivate streaming sites to pay the over inflated prices they have been for films. This will harm production houses that have heavy investments in movies, which cannot be released in cinemas and add to the sleepless nights for Hindi cinema.

If the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation is allowed to reach a conclusion without political pressure, the nightmares for Bollywood will mount and many more scandals will emerge. If the investigation is covered up then the war between protesters and Hindi cinema will escalate. This means the industry won’t be sleeping soundly for a while and it could be the end of Bollywood as we know it.

Eastern Eye

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