Another day, another product from India topping the charts. This time, it comes not with us being the leaders when it comes to the average number of new coronavirus cases or how we are the best at being the most ignorant about our own country, but in the form of this Indian movie trailer which has very quickly risen the ranks to become one of the most disliked videos on YouTube.
Sadak 2—a movie that features big Bollywood names like Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Dutt, and Aditya Roy Kapur—dropped its trailer, for its online Disney+ Hotstar release, last afternoon. And at the time of writing, in just over 24 hours, it has received over 6.4 million dislikes, while only receiving around 347,000 likes.
The video is now the most disliked movie trailer in history. It is also the seventh most disliked video in the world, beating even videos of YouTubers like Jake Paul and Pewdiepie, which stand at 4.9 and 4.8 million dislikes respectively. And while you might be tempted to believe this is because the trailer of the sequel to Bhatt’s 1991 hit Sadak probably looked crap, chances are the real reason is far from anything to do with the quality of the movie.
This negative response comes after the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June. His suicide, by many, was considered a result of being othered by the Bollywood “insiders”. It initiated huge debates on nepotism and the culture of the “inner circle” in Bollywood, and got people hating on all the film stars who were the products of nepotism. They were angry with the culture which allowes "star kids" to make it in the industry, but barely gives any space or chance to “outsiders”. Alia Bhatt, daughter of actor Soni Razdan and producer Mahesh Bhatt, became one of the biggest troll targets—along with “flag-bearer of nepotism” director Karan Johar. Alia Bhatt, once in an episode of TV show Koffee with Karan, had spoken dismissively of the late actor too.
It is an understatement to say this movie reeks of nepotism as well. The movie is directed by popular Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt and features his daughters Alia Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt, along with Sanjay Dutt (who is the son of late actor Sunil Dutt) and Aditya Roy Kapur (also a star kid). The lack of diversity in the movie, along with the fact that vilifying Alia Bhatt and the cohort of star kids is easier than fixing a systemic industry-wide problem, is why we suspect Sadak 2 has not been received well by fans, many of who continue to shout for #JusticeForSushant.
The fact that the movie is not a cinematic masterpiece hardly matters. For the general public who might be looking for something new to watch on a boring Saturday afternoon, it probably would. But for these masses dedicated to dismantling the hierarchy in Bollywood solely through YouTube dislikes and comments, it doesn't. The video, which is trending at #1 in India, sees viewers who are coming in just to dislike the video based on the cast. To compare, the late actor Sushant Singh Ralput’s last release Dil Bechara, which came out in July, was received overwhelmingly to become the first YouTube trailer to receive 10 million likes.
Sadak 2 is also not the first movie in recent days to have received this treatment. The Netflix movie Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl featuring Jahnvi Kapoor has also been trolled for the same reasons. Kapoor is also a “star kid”—daughter of late actor Sridevi and producer Boney Kapoor—and was also criticised.
This, perhaps, would be a welcome awakening for the industry that needs to move beyond its inner circle. Unlike what many have believed all these years, the audience now will probably not mindlessly gobble up anything they are served. But whether an impetus like YouTube dislikes and comments is enough is questionable.
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