Will #BoycottDeepika affect Chhapaak’s Box Office numbers?

Industry experts opine whether the Twitter uproar against Deepika Padukone’s JNU stance will dent the film’s chances at the Box Office

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Jan 9, 2020 4:24 PM

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Boycott Chhapaak

Since the brutal mob attack on JNU Student Union president Aishe Ghosh and others at the Jawaharlal Nehra University (JNU) on 5th January 2020, many protests have been in effect in the country.

Given the situation in the country, the Bollywood fraternity has come under criticism for not raising their voice on the issues surrounding the CAA and NRC. However, with the JNU mob attack, many celebrities have shown their support by actually attending the protests or Tweeting online.

Bollywood Actress Deepika Padukone, while in Delhi to promote her latest film Chhapaak, joined in by silently protesting the violence unleashed on the students of JNU. It was a daring move for Deepika, who was ranked in the top five of the Forbes India Celebrity 100 list, to be taking such a political stand. Her move came at a time when she was only a few days away from releasing her big-budget film, which she has also produced.

Soon enough, Twitterati started tweeting #BoycottDeepika and #BoycottChhapaak on the platform after she attended the JNU protests. Her visit to the protests garnered mixed reviews; some believed that this was an act of publicity for her film and had nothing to do with showing support for the students. Some even went on to show that they have cancelled their tickets. While her fans supported her move with hashtags such as #ISupportDeepika, #IStandWithDeepika and #ChhapakDekhoTapaakSe, which were trending as well.

The situation is not new to the actress who faced intense trolling and backlash in 2017, ahead of the release of Padmaavat. Even then, she had voiced her thoughts openly about being boycotted.

e4m asked industry experts about the effects of the Twitter uproar on her upcoming movie Chhapaak and whether it will affect her brand value financially.

Girish Johar, Trade Analyst shared, “A Twitter trend is just a trend. It is not a barometer of what’s going to happen at the Box Office. At the BO, it is only the film that matters. By visiting the site, Deepika has shown solidarity with the students and that she understands their pain. I respect and salute her for taking a stand because it takes maturity and guts. Not only Deepika but other women in the industry, like Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhaskar, Shabhana and Aliya Bhatt, have also raised their voice on the issue. Clearly, it is a good stand.”

Sharing whether it will affect the Box Office numbers, Johar remarked, “She is the producer of the film as well and it takes more guts to do this. She understands that it could go in a negative way as well. Having gone through the same in Padmavaat, if the film is well-made with conviction and the message is of the film is clear, the audiences will turn up. Even if there is some effect, it will be on the first weekend. Word of mouth will go around. If everyone is appreciative of what they have done on-screen, eventually the numbers will rise in the weekdays and onwards in the Box Office."

Alvin D'Souza, Managing Partner of 121XP stated, “At a time when most top stars have maintained a stoic silence, Deepika has shown India the face of a strong woman who isn’t afraid to take a stand. Across contexts, cultures and time periods, underdog narratives have inspired people. Consumers strongly relate to brands that they perceive as underdogs. By being the first amongst the so-called ‘A-listers’ of the male-dominated film industry to take a stand on a subject considered high risk, she has given the movement a mainstream narrative and has forced many more Bollywood celebs to speak up. I see a definite hike in her brand value.”

Kiran Khalap, Co-founder and MD, Chlorophyll commented, “I doubt it will affect the movie. Twitter wars are transient. What will last is a further strengthening of personal associations with her: unafraid, transparent, willing to engage.”

“Deepika Padukone has made a brave and significant move on the eve of a big movie release to stand in solidarity with #JNUProtests. Those who question her timing must realise that she risked much and had more to lose than gain by her participation. The silence was the easier option, but she did not choose that”, remarked N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research.

Chandramouli added, “It has been seen from previous examples that such frivolous boycott calls don't work. Also, just to give you an idea of boycott calls, today #BoycottNirma is also trending for an Akshay Kumar advertisement, which seems to have hurt the sentiments of Marathas. The impact of calls is negligible. Deepika's endorsement value may actually rise as a result of her action, as the conscientious brands can project her as a symbol of conscientiousness, credibility, and liberalism.”

However, this uproar is only about one actress in the film. There are multiple actors in a movie and one actor’s stand on a political issue may not impact the film to the degree expected by those calling for a boycott. In the end, Deepika chose humanity over everything in a difficult political environment, which in the bargain can improve her brand value.

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