Are you sure you want to #SayNoToBollywood?

Nowadays, it has become quite common for any news that makes headlines to become a hot topic of discussion over the social media. The same happened as a result of the recent tensions between India and Pakistan with regard to LoC ceasefire violations and soon we saw a reaction to that over the social media wherby our people created the hashtag #SayNoToBollywood which certainly became one of the trending topics in Pakistan in no time.

Though it is quite obvious to have a reaction from the people considering the hostility from the other side, the hashtag itself actually raises a lot of questions about the influence of Bollywood in our society. As shallow as it seems, it makes one wonder to what extent Bollywood has penetrated in our country in general and in our society in specific. In that context, there are many relevant questions that need to be addressed before we proceed with the boycott:

  • Saying no to Bollywood would mean stopping from going to cinemas to watch their successfully running shows. Are we ready to have Bollywood movies off our theatres? We all know how fond our people are of watching the latest Bollywood releases. We give them a considerable business, don’t we?
  • Saying no to Bollywood would mean boycotting Bollywood songs as well. That means, to stop buying the music CDs, stop downloading their music from the internet and to stop watching Bollywood songs that our music channels keep playing and stop listening to even our own radio channels that play those songs day and night. Are we really prepared to shun the Bollywood music altogether?
  • Saying no to Bollywood means to avoid watching any Bollywood movies (and relevant programs like award ceremonies etc.) that our TV entertainment channels play every now and then. Are we up for it?

And wait a minute; even our advertisements these days are so full of B-town people. Now what? Should we stop watching all the TV channels that are running those ads? Or maybe going to the extent of boycotting all those brands that are promoting their products via B-town actors and actresses?

  • Saying no to Bollywood means to stop playing their songs on wedding ceremonies and to stop dancing to those Bollywood tunes as part of our wedding celebrations. Are we willing to change that trend?
  • Saying no to Bollywood means boycotting our own artists who cross the border to work for Bollywood. Are we ready to disown our own people for that matter? Because at home, here in Pakistan, we are so willing to watch our people making their name in the B-town. ‘Khoobsurat’ is one such example.

Saying no to Bollywood is just like another similar highly discussed social media trend that we come across every now and then i.e. boycotting Israeli products. No question over the justification of the boycott though as the world has undoubtedly seen the sheer brutality of Israel on the Palestinians from time to time. But the point is do these trends have a real-life impact on us?

McDonalds is one of the brands declared to be boycotted as part of saying no to Israeli products. Let’s be honest and ask ourselves, did the Muslim community in general and Pakistanis in specific stop going to the very fast-food chain outlet after the recent Gaza massacre? I don’t think so.

Similarly, Coca-Cola is yet another very popular brand which made it to the boycott list. Wouldn’t boycott of Coca-Cola have meant boycotting Coke Studio as well, since it is promoting and being sponsored by the same brand? Then we need to ask ourselves if we really bothered to boycott the latest Coke Studio Season  because of the recent Gaza carnage! Well, if that was the case, we wouldn’t have had #CokeStudio7 hashtag trending on social media either.

We cannot deny the fact that Bollywood has a huge influence on our society. We have Bollywood tunes playing at our weddings, in our cars, in our markets, even in our news bulletins (that’s weird though). No wonder even our shopkeepers sometimes name their products after Bollywood movies. I remember once a shopkeeper selling some “Devdas jewelry” to his customers in a famous market in Lahore.

It would be absurd to say something only for the hatred of the country to which Bollywood belongs when the impact of the same Bollywood is so vast that even when the hashtag #SayNoToBollywood was trending over the social media, our people were running to the theatres to watch the latest Bollywood release ‘Bang Bang’. That right there was enough to prove how we sometimes make a fool out of ourselves.

If we want to boycott anything, we must prove through our actions by practicing what we keep discussing over the social media. A mere discussion for the sake of spewing hatred is useless. At the same time, we should not forget that the things that we want to boycott have become part of our society and our economy. A lot of courage and determination is required in order to boycott such things.

Let’s be honest and talk about things that we can eventually turn into reality because so far, we have not proved anything to be actually happening. In short, let’s not make fool of ourselves by discussing things over the social media only for the sake of having trends and hashtags with no plans of practical implementation whatsoever. Let’s talk of those things first which we can really put into practice in a true sense.

 Note: A slightly different version of this piece appeared at Express Tribune Blog Section


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