PM cautions against #BoycottBollywood, says workers must stop tilting at windmills

PM Modi has asked BJP national executive members to be cautious about their comments in public, particularly about films.

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By: Pramod Kumar Singh | Urvashi Khona | Subham Tiwari | Rohan Dua | New Delhi
Updated: 18 January, 2023 12:01 pm IST
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PM Modi addressing BJP executive meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.

With the Bollywood film industry’s business rapidly nosediving following frequent boycott calls over social media, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stepped in to say that senior BJP leaders must stop tilting at windmills, in a strong message that may halt smear campaigns.

Modi, during his address at the party’s two-day national executive meeting in the national capital, also told party workers to refrain from making any comments against films or extending support to people running campaigns against the Bollywood industry.

He also cautioned senior party leaders against making any controversial comments in public on actors, directors and film producers.

Modi’s comments come at a time when right-wing groups have escalated attacks on Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone over their film Pathaan while objecting to the movie’s song titled Besharam Rang that shows Bajirao Mastani actress sporting a saffron outfit in an outrageous outfit and sultry poses.

“PM Modi told the executive members that their controversial remarks draw massive media attention and people only get to see what BJP leaders are saying, not what their governments are doing for the welfare of the common man,” said an MP, who was in attendance.

His message comes days after Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty appealed before Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to stop #BoycottBollywood trends on social media.

“Nowadays, we are facing a dangerous trend of #BoycotBollywood. We are being painted as drug addicts. It pains me. We have made several wonderful movies for the country… Only you can stop this trend,” Shetty told the visiting CM during a Mumbai meet with industry stars.

In 2022, three big-ticket movies including Amir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha, Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandhan, and Ranbir Kapoor’s Brahmastra fell prey to the discontentment by lakhs of ideological.

Once known as the undisputed king of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan’s yet-to-be-released movie Pathaan continues to draw boycott calls on social media platforms, forcing the Mannat owner to reach out to the audience with a cryptic message last month at an event hosted by West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.

With Banerjee, who is a staunch rival to the BJP among regional parties, on his side, Khan even said, “ No matter what the world does, stay positive”. Khan has been facing attacks after his son Aryan was held by the Narcotics Control Bureau in 2021 and was accused of consuming and peddling drugs following a raid on a Cordelia cruiseliner’s Empress ship. Aryan was later let off by the NCB after spending time in jail.

Earlier, Brahamastra co-producer Karan Johar bid adieu to his nearly 2 million followers on Twitter in October last year as outrage grew against him over accusations of nepotism and a probe into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

This is not the first time PM Modi has acknowledged the importance of the Bollywood industry which still remains the largest source of entertainment and a powerful tool in shaping public opinion.

In a recent interview with The New Indian’s Executive Editor, Johar had spoken highly of Modi, saying it was a privilege to be a compere and host at his residence with film stars.

In 2019, Modi hosted a posse of Bollywood actors including Khan, Johar, Imtiaz Ali, Boney Kapoor, and Kangana coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The film industry has faced a sharp divide after the home ministry provided a Y-category security cover to film director Vivek Agnihotri in face of a controversy surrounding his movie The Kashmir Files.

Several old tweets by Agnihotri espousing secularism and visits to mosques while sporting a skull cap have often led to a debate on a change of heart inside him as many accused him of being an opportunist and selfish.

Earlier this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced the full list of 301 films which were eligible for the Oscars this year. A few Indian films have made the list, including Vivek’s The Kashmir Files. Other films from India, in the eligible list, are RRR, Kantara, Gangubai Kathiawadi, Me Vasantrao, Tuzhya Sathi Kahi Hi, Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, Iravin Nizhal and Vikrant Rona.

There are four Indian films officially shortlisted for the Oscars. This includes RRR, Last Film Show, All That Breathes and The Elephant Whisperers. The final nominations for the Oscars will be announced on January 24.

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