Fenil Seta: #BoycottBollywood won’t work

Due to public outrage after the Sushant Singh Rajput demise and investigation into the drugs racket, the hashtag #BoycottBollywood has been trending on Twitter. Meanwhile, the Coronavirus pandemic has heavily impacted the exhibition sector. On the other hand, the OTT platform has seen a rise in viewership, which also led to many films releasing straight to digital. As a result, a section of experts and even some industry people are predicting that the cinema sector is finished. However, in a recent interview with musician and film enthusiast Dev Vrat Bhatt for the YouTube channel Whims & Realities, film critic Fenil Seta vehemently disagreed with this notion.

‘The exhibition sector will bounce back’

Fenil stated, “I’ve been reading about prophecies that cinema theatres are on its last legs. But I don’t agree at all. We have been used to going to theatres to watch films for years. How can this habit go away in just seven months? Right now, the situation is not conducive due to rising cases. But within six months, I’m sure the exhibition sector will bounce back. I have no doubt.”

He added, “Right now, we have access to so many films and web series on OTT platforms. However, let’s not forget that going to cinemas is an experience. You get ready, you get to spend quality time with your friends or family – all this also counts. You just don’t go to watch the film, you go for this experience! There have been so many times me and my friends have decided to watch a film when we meet.”

‘Chinese film The Eight Hundred is a pandemic blockbuster’

Fenil also reminds that the situation in many countries in the world is slowly bouncing back to normal. To prove his point, he says, “Not many people are aware but there has been a Chinese film titled The Eight Hundred which was released during the pandemic and yet emerged as a blockbuster. Films in Spain and South Korea too have managed to become hits. This shows there’s tremendous pent-up demand.”

He states, “Sadly, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet didn’t work but that’s because its word of mouth was mostly negative. However, many have used this as an example to prove that moviegoers are wary of going to cinemas. I am sure if a well-made film releases in Hollywood, it’s bound to get audiences in hordes in theatres.”

He reasons, “Right now, the extended weekend is going on and I just read that tourists have arrived in large numbers in Goa and Himachal Pradesh. Yet again, it proves that people are waiting to get out of their house. There’s a risk involved in going on a holiday as well, yet people are going for it. Then why won’t they also head to a theatre, after taking due precautions?”

‘Sadak 2 campaign was part of organized trolling’

The industry right now is going through a tough time. So has the aura of the stars gone for a toss? Fenil Seta explains, “The aura of stardom has diminished since the time social media got introduced. Stars suddenly became too accessible to the public. Regarding the wave going on right now, I don’t think it’ll have any kind of effect. It’s not difficult to dislike a trailer on YouTube. And the campaign against Sadak 2 was a part of an organized trolling. I don’t deny that the ‘aam aadmi’ is not agitated but not so much. Sadly, they have been bombarded with hate messages on an almost daily basis by vested interests. They have been instigated. Right now, all films are releasing online. So one might assume that if a particular film has got record dislikes and a record number of negative reviews on IMDb, then the whole country must be seething with rage. But once cinemas open and films of the Khans and star kids release, the same set of people won’t mind watching it.”

‘Salman Khan’s Bigg Boss 14 will be a hit’

Fenil argues, “There was so much negativity surrounding Salman Khan. Has it stopped people from being excited about Bigg Boss, which he hosts? The press conference last week was well received and keenly watched by so many people. I am sure even the show would get good ratings and that all the boycott drama will fail! In fact, there were rumours that due to the campaign, Salman has been removed from the show. Later, it came to light that he will be paid more than what he got last year! That’s because the makers know the truth behind this campaign. Right now, the lockdown is going on. Lot of people have lost jobs and have lots of free time and free internet at their disposal. So this is how many people are using it. Also, people feel powerful when they dislike a trailer or criticise or even abuse a star. It gives them a kick.”

‘Sooryavanshi and Radhe should be hits too’

A confident Fenil then predicts, “Six months down the line, let’s talk again. I am sure by then Sooryavanshi and Radhe would have released and would have been hits. If these films flop, that would be due to bad content and not due to any #BoycottBollywood campaign.”

‘Some critics look down on commercial cinema’

When asked what he would like to tell aspiring film critics, Fenil made a valid point, “Writing well and knowing the technicalities are not the only requirements. The editor, while selecting someone to write reviews, should check if the person enjoys all kinds of films. Often, I have seen that our critics shower praises on niche films while they look down upon commercial cinema. Before Press Shows, before the film starts, many critics have already made up their mind that they’ll bash the film! That’s not fair.”

‘Viewers go crazy when Tiger Shroff fights and dances’

Fenil also informs people that we need to give commercial cinema respect as it’s consumed and enjoyed by most moviegoers. “Definitely the tastes of moviegoers have evolved but most of them still enjoy escapist fares. There’s a reason why Sooryavansham and South-dubbed films dominate our movie channels! We should respect this aspect. I often take my friends to watch masala films of actors like Salman Khan, Tiger Shroff etc to the single screen cinema complex Gaiety-Galaxy in Mumbai. They get shocked when they see how viewers go berserk when Tiger Shroff’s entry happens or when he fights and dances. That’s because these people have no idea that something like this exists. They are in touch with their family members, cousins or other friends who also watch the same content. So they feel the whole world was doing the same. But that’s not the reality. An average Tiger Shroff fan doesn’t tweet how much he loves him. However, now things are changing. The fan clubs of these stars are now sharing videos of people going crazy in cinemas etc and this has helped many people understand the real scenario.”

‘The Tashkent Files had unfair reviews’

Fenil advocates unbiased reviewing, free of political leanings. He says, “Last year, there was a film which was released called The Tashkent Files. I don’t agree with the director’s political view but I can’t deny that he made a superb film, replete with some shocking facts. When I read reviews of this film, I could see that many didn’t review the film, they reviewed the director! That’s unfair!”

‘Hrithik Roshan and Alia Bhatt will rule’

Finally, Fenil was asked to play a rapid-fire round. When asked who will be the male superstar of this decade, he replied, “Hrithik Roshan would rule this decade. The success of War has confirmed that he’s a superstar like no other. Also, age is on his side.” When asked about female superstars, Fenil mentioned, “Alia Bhatt.”

‘Sikandar Kher has got a raw deal’

He gave an unexpected answer when the interviewer Dev Vrat Bhatt quizzed him about the underrated actor. “Sikandar Kher. I recently wrote about him after watching his performance in Aarya. He’s such a nice actor and a fine human being. He should be on top. He has superb comic timing, as is evident from his act in Tere Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive. Bollywood should be utilizing it. I recently read his interview wherein he stated that Aarya was his first success. That broke my heart,” sighed Fenil as he signed off.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of any other individual, organisation or this website.
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