Pathaan’s journey from Boycott to Blockbuster
After Pathaan earned the blockbuster status, and coincidentally on Mahatma Gandhi’s 75th death anniversary, Shah Rukh Khan said what is relevant not only to cinema but also to the entire country – Amar Akbar Anthony is not just a film – it’s symbolic that when united, we are unstoppable.
We all read about unity in diversity in textbooks – but under the influence of godi media, social media and politicians, we failed to remember it, embroiled in US vs THEM debate. Then, entered a superhero who showed us that love has not lost yet. In short, evil may overpower good – but in the long run, the good always prevails.
Today, Pathaan is nearing 1000 crore at the box office and is highest grossing already in overseas markets – without releasing in China. More than business, this film earned something more significant – people’s love defeating hatred.
Today, SRK has had to scale great lengths to reach this summit of success. Don’t think Pathaan became one of the biggest successes in Bollywood for its storyline or VFX or acting in the movie.
Pathaan is not just a movie – it’s an emotion – of people who bought the tickets to make a statement against hatred. No more divisions – no more granting space to boycott – becoming fearless! A mere movie ticket was a rebellion against hatred – kudos to SRK’s Pathaan.
Let’s throw some light at Pathaan’s journey from boycott to blockbuster!
SRK has millions of fans around the world – but the present government is not too keen, especially after SRK made that remark on growing intolerance. It created a shockwave – Yogi Adityanath compared SRK to Hafiz Saeed. After SRK expressed his views, people became desperate to deport him to Pakistan. And as a result, his movies didn’t do well at the box office.
Further, his son Aryan’s arrest for alleged involvement in a drug controversy tarred SRK’s reputation more, however he got a clean chit later. Nepotism, boycott gang filled the rest of the gap against the superstar.
After 30 years of stardom, it was felt that the craze for the Badshah was over, but SRK returned after 5 years. People were ready to write off an obituary, had Pathaan flopped. It turned out well as people were rejoiced by the star’s return – although it did seem that Pathaan would too flop after Laal Singh Chaddha starring Amir Khan.
Deepika’s bikini added fuel to fire – started to hurt religious sentiments of some people. Madhya Pradesh’s home minister commented, Deepika Padukone is a supporter of tukde tukde gang. Before the release, Deepika’s visit to JNU and SRK’s surname were involved – also, probably, because SRK didn’t become a fanboy of the government like the other stars.
Although, SRK did not openly speak against the system – but silence is also symbolic of resistance. Because, today, the system demands complete obedience or else you’d start reeking of resistance.
After opposition and media, the film industry in Mumbai had to be controlled – to pass on legacy – because in India, Bollywood speaks to hearts and influences people at the deepest level. To say the least, SRK has lived life on his own terms – from Circus and Fauji to Pathaan today.
If Bollywood had to be in the good books of the government, then it had to shelve its secular and inclusive outlook – like Anupam Kher, Kangana Ranaut, Vivek Agnihotri, Akshay Kumar to the least. The call for boycott is understandable, as it’s a democracy, but vandalising hall, banning entry to cinema halls? The goal was clearly to flop Pathaan. Then, how has Pathaan succeeded?
The story starts with a Pakistani general who wants to attack India – revolves around Deepika, John and Shah Rukh Khan. SRK played an orphan who was raised by Mother India. For a masala movie, it’s fine, and the storyline is nothing new (many James Bond movies have similar build up). To be honest, Pathaan may not get recognized for the story or VFX, but it may score well on dialogues and dance sequences.
SRK took risk when he bought his real life Pathaani roots on to the screen. And Pathaan, a name given to the character in Afghanistan, is the title of the film as well – so can you see the connection?
At a time when Akshay Kumar is playing the role of Prithiviraj Chauhan, saving Ram setu, why did SRK chose Pathaan? He could reprise the role of Raj with the dialogues “Bharat mata ki jai” etc. – but SRK picked Pathaan instead, knowing that the name itself could stir a controversy – and it did. However, this didn’t age well as Pathaan went on to become a blockbuster – now on the way to gross 1000 crore.
This success of 1000 crore should teach Bollywood a lot of lessons for future – that people admire self-made successes – in politics, business or cinema. SRK is the ultimate outsider in Bollywood – his win is people’s win – his journey gives courage that a Delhi boy can rule film industry in Mumbai for 30 years.
However, today, Bollywood is still closed for outsiders. At the end of the film, SRK and Salman Khan talk about their long journey and upcoming generation of stars. But, is there anyone capable of replacing their stardom?
SRK will turn 60 soon – what then? As long as Bollywood keeps banking on star kids, mediocrity will prevail in films and boycott gang will rejoice. Pathaan’s success gave relief to the entire Bollywood – when was the last time a movie reopened a shut cinema hall?
Pathaan has achieved its blockbuster status when people aren’t keen on visiting halls – they can wait for its OTT release. Pathaan succeeded amid South Indian film domination. Pathaan not only defeated villain Jim – it also defeated hatred. Pathaan came as a lifeline for Bollywood – the Badshah (king) worked magic when others were silent.
Moral of the story – Mango eating stars are struggling, as people are fed up of propaganda and wants to get over hatred. Will Bollywood take more risks like Pathaan? Pathaan did nothing new of the sort – but was a risk by SRK. There was a time when Bollywood made experimental movies to express people’s voice – like Kissa Kursi Ka (1978), Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) etc. Can they be made today?
Pathaan showed that people are not blinded by hatred – and movies can spread positivity, joy and teach patriotism. Here is hoping that Bollywood takes more risks in movies – otherwise flop streak will continue.
[Images from different sources]
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