Hope ‘Pathaan’ success cancels boycott culture: Shabana Azmi

PTI, Mar 15, 2023, 4:49 PM IST

Describing the record-breaking success of ”Pathaan” as a validation, veteran actor Shabana Azmi says the continuing box office run of the Shah Rukh starrer gives hope that the boycott culture could finally end. The film, which released 50 days ago, has already crossed the Rs 1,000 crore mark at the global office.

Azmi said she had a feeling the globetrotting spy entertainer from Yash Raj Films will turn out to be a hit but was surprised by the magnitude of its success. ”I loved ‘Pathaan’. I had a feeling in my bones, right from the word go that ‘Pathaan’ would be a hit. That it will become such a huge hit is such a validation. I’m so delighted about the film.

”I really hope it cancels this boycott culture because it is really cocking a snook at that. And I enjoyed the film… I’m sort of taking it so personally and I’m so glad that it’s such a big success,” the 72-year-old actor told PTI in a virtual interview.

In 2022, big-budget Hindi productions such as Aamir Khan’s “Laal Singh Chaddha”, “Shamshera” starring Ranbir Kapoor, Akshay Kumar’s “Raksha Bandhan”, and Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan-led “Vikram Vedha” failed to pull crowds to the theatres amid calls for boycott from a section of people on social media.

The hashtag ‘#BoycottBollywood’ raised its head right before ”Pathaan”, the first major release of 2023, with a controversy over its song ”Besharam Rang”. However, it emerged a blockbuster right from its opening day on January 25. The ”cancel culture”, which Azmi termed a ”targeted mission” against the film industry, is just a phase that will pass, she added.

“I have the benefit of experience, and I know that nothing lasts and that these are phases that come, and then they pass by. And this was sort of targeted… what the word for it ..like a mission almost. And then I knew this would not last forever.

”Yeh log jab samajhte hain hum mein zyada power hai, par unko asliyat log batayenge (These people think they are more powerful, but the audience will show them the truth)… People particularly love movies in India,” she said.

Azmi, 72, also believes the poor performance of some Hindi films has sparked a course correction in terms of viewing content through a new lens.

“… It also led to a lot of churning in the film industry, which is good… thinking of content… is important. It worked both ways because the film industry said, ‘If the content is good, it works’. So, we should concentrate on that,” she added.

The cinema veteran is awaiting the release of her next film “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”, also featuring British stars Emma Thompson, Lily James, Shazad Latif, and Pakistani actor Sajal Aly.

The upcoming romantic-comedy is directed by Shekhar Kapur and is set to release in Indian theatres on Friday.

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