Boycotting films vitiates atmosphere, says Anurag Thakur amid ‘Pathaan’ row

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday said at a time when the Indian film industry is making waves worldwide, boycotting films at home only “vitiates the atmosphere”.

His comments came in the backdrop of boycott calls for Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Pathaan’ that released on Wednesday. The film sparked a row over one of its song ‘Besharam Rang’ which shows Khan’s co-star Deepika Padukone wearing an orange swimsuit.

“At a time when India is keen to enhance its influence as a soft power, at a time when Indian films are making waves in every corner of the world, such talk vitiates the atmosphere,” Thakur said in Mumbai while inaugurating the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Film Festival.

In case someone has a problem with a movie, they should talk to the concerned government department which can take up the issue with the filmmakers, news agency PTI quoted him as saying. “But sometimes, just to vitiate the atmosphere, some people comment on something even before knowing about it fully. That causes problems. This should not happen,” he said.

Despite protests, Pathaan has shattered several records, both in India and worldwide, earning over 230 crore within two days of its release.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too cautioned BJP leaders against making unnecessary remarks on films and personalities to grab headlines. During the BJP National Executive meeting in New Delhi, PM Modi said, “No one should make unnecessary comments that would overshadow the hard work we do.”

Modi’s advise was hugely welcomed by film bodies, including the the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) which said the prime minister’s comment was a “big boost of confidence” for the Hindi film industry, which has been fighting a perception battle.

Khan’s ‘Pathaan’ joins the bandwagon of several Bollywood movies that have faced boycott calls in the recent past — Akshay Kumar’s ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, Aamir Khan’s ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ and Deepika Padukone’s ‘Padmaavat’.

Addressing the media, Thakur also made a strong pitch for creative autonomy and said there were adequate safeguards in place for monitoring content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms. “There should be no restrictions on creativity,” he said.

He said of all the complaints that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting receives on OTT content, almost 95 per cent of the grievances are settled at the level of producers. Only one per cent of complaints reach the inter-departmental committee and it is ensured that strict action is taken in such cases, the minister added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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