Saif Ali Khan Thinks Those Calling For Film Boycotts Are Not ‘Real Audiences’ And We Agree – Commentary
We are also familiar with boycotting and banning of films in Pakistan.
Bollywood has faced back-to-back challenges with films released one after another and very few have achieved commercial success. While some of that may be down to the quality of the movie itself, a lot of it now is down to calls for boycotts and bans. We saw it happen with Aamir Khan Laal Singh Chaddha when a snippet of his 2015 interview became the reason for the film and Ranbir Kapoor’s ban brahmastra on his comment from 11 years ago about him eating and enjoying beef. We also see it in Pakistan.
On Saturday, actor Saif Ali Khan appeared on CNBC-TV18 Weekend for an interview where he was asked about the boycott culture in Bollywood. “This part of the population, which I think is [boycotting] I don’t know if that’s the real audience. Using a soft target, like a bad movie, to say, “Okay, let’s ban this or cancel that”… I also think it’s really sad that Bollywood hasn’t shown unity. Until we have the capacity to take this step, we will never really know how effective this culture of boycott is.
Khan added that cancel culture is generally scary because it is a global phenomenon. But when a movie is about to be released and so many people are online, he suggested it’s “simpler to keep a low profile and get rid of it”.
“These people saying ‘boycott boycott’, I don’t think it’s the public, personally. Because people like to be entertained, people like to watch movies, so they’re not going to not watch a movie. We don’t don’t really have much to do in our country. Sometimes you can’t take a walk in the park or take a leisurely boat ride with your kids. Entertainment is limited in cities like ours, so movies are one of those things,” said the Vikram Veda actor.
His view on boycott culture most closely matches what is happening in Pakistan with that of Saim Sadiq joyland and many other films before that. It is indeed chilling to see how much cancel culture has prevailed against new content and storylines in Pakistan, however much these stories are in demand. And that may just be because the archaic mindset of many in society, which refuses to accept any story beyond wife beatings and cheap jokes, won’t change.
Unfortunately, this is the type of content that aligns with the “social values and moral standards” of our society. There is little to no room for films that portray the true face of society here. And then comes the question of if we can’t separate art or maybe even fiction from reality, what’s the point of having a film culture in Pakistan?
Pakistani film culture comes to life and prosperous when item numbers are part of blockbuster movies, inappropriate jokes are the high point of “family movies”, and drinking is normalized. But God forbid a movie features Alina Khan, a trans actor playing a trans character in joyland. All hell breaks loose and suddenly society worries about the values and morals the film might encourage.
It seems that our collective biases come to life when we see transgender characters in movies, but not when we see men onscreen making crude jokes or objectifying women.
As Khan said, this form of cancel culture is scary. We need to let entertainment be entertainment and not confuse it with a school lesson. Ultimately, if you can’t find a movie worth watching, you have the option just don’t watch it. Let everyone in the audience decide what they want to watch and how much they like it themselves.