Shahrukh Khan’s movie Fan had everything going for it . Being produced by the premier production house of the country – Yashraj Films and directed by Maneesh Sharma whose surprise hit Band Baaja Baaraat turned Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma into stars they are today , it was supposed to be a Blockbuster . Sadly the movie flopped , it is struggling to reach Rs.85 crores (against the investment of Rs.105 crores) which according to Bollywood standards is pathetic . The situation would be clearer if we compare it with the collections of Tiger Shroff’s second film Baaghi released this weekend , which according to early estimates have grossed around Rs.45 crores in 4 days. Ardent fans of the superstar are blaming the Indian audience for not being mature enough to accept a non Masala film like fan , but the problem lies elsewhere . Shahrukh Khan’s last release , Dilwale , was also a box office disappointment( though not a disaster on Fan’s scale) . Being released on the same day with Ranveer Singh’s Bajirao Mastani , its collections dropped from the second week on wards and ended up collecting Rs.30 crores less than its rival .
so why are his films not doing well? , My assumptions may be far fetched but according to me it has everything to do with the rising tide of nationalism in our country . During the promotions of Dilwale ,Shahrukh was asked about the intolerance issue raging at the time and he replied that in fact there was such an issue and it needs deeper introspection. This set off reactions in the cyber world and he was branded anti national by the right and the messiah of truth by the left and like the whole intolerance issue the two camps were at logger heads . But when the movie released right wing took the protest to the streets , interrupting the screening at many places . It must also be noted that the movie against which it was pitted was based on the life of the great nationalist Icon – Maratha Bajirao Peshwa ( The war cry of “Har Har Mahadev” was one of the takeaways from the movie ) . Dilwale did poorly in most of North India , Maharashtra and Gujarat . What was more important was the socio – economic composition of the people who watched the movie . The Middle classes , who are know to be Shahrukh Khan’s loyal support base didn’t turn up at the theaters at all . Multiplexes recorded lower collections than any of his previous films . Though Dilwale scrapped through thanks to stronger collections from Bengal and South India , Fan could not . It was a movie exclusively for his Middle class fan base , which he thought still supported him , But the collections would have brought him up to date with the reality . For the 400 million odd middle class Indians across the country, especially in North India , Prime Minister Narendra Modi is nothing short of god incarnate. They see a bright future for India under him and consider all dissenting voices as tricks by the elite ( who call themselves Liberal) to dis enthrone him . By talking ill about the current government Mr Khan sealed his own fate.
So who are these middle classes? They could be called the bourgeois in Marxian terminology , a group which have prospered from the reforms of the 90s , who are cosmopolitan with a global outlook ,well educated but unlike the elite of the past are proud of their Indian roots and wants to see India take up leadership positions in the Global arena on her own terms . They are mostly Hindu , but belonging to myriad of its castes . They may range from medium level Farmers in the Indo Gangetic Plains to a top executive at San Fransisco . To them the current government is a return to the Golden Era of the Guptas and Mauryas.The media was wrong in assessing the strength of this class . This became obvious during the JNU issue , NDTV which was at the forefront of the struggle for the students rights saw its ratings fall to double digits , While Times Now saw new heights owing to its ultra nationalist stance . Aaj Tak the leader in the Hindi news market till then is now at the second position and ABP news then the no:2 have seen its ratings halved . THE HINDU , the mouthpiece of the “Thinking Indian” was forced to come out explaining complaints of bias (via the reader’s editor). The media survives on advertising and the biggest consumers in the country are the above mentioned class , hence the so called liberal media (including The Hindu) have been forced to reduce the virility of the anti Modi rhetoric ,toeing the middle class line.
This sort of virulent nationalism is not new , Germany(Prussia) after 1870 was at the same place as we are today . The nationalist spirit did turn united Germany into one of the greatest powers of the world . But over time it did turn chauvinistic and autocratic , eventually leading to its downfall . A nationalistic India must be utmost cautious to avoid taking that path.
- The Boxoffice collections mentioned above could be verified at http://www.boxofficeindia.com.
- The TV ratings could be verified at http://www.barcindia.co.in.