Union Minister Anurag Thakur hits out at boycott calls against films

"In a country like India where we want to increase our soft power and our films are making a name for themselves globally, then such things definitely have an impact," said the minister.

Mumbai: Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur on Friday while hitting the ‘boycott culture’ targeting certain films, said such instances vitiate the atmosphere at a time when India is keen to enhance its influence as soft power.

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As the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Film Festival kicked off on Friday, the minister, during a press conference said, “if anyone has an issue, then they should bring it up with the department.”

Last year, several Bollywood movies including ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’, ‘Raksha Bandhan’ and ‘Brahmastra’ among others and even the recently released ‘Pathaan’ faced the boycott trend’s ire on social media.

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While addressing the press, when the Union Minister was asked how the boycott trend’s impact, he said, “In a country like India where we want to increase our soft power and our films are making a name for themselves globally, then such things definitely have an impact.

“If anyone has an issue, they should bring it up with the department. But sometimes people make comments without even having the full knowledge and it does have an impact, which should not happen,” he continued.

India produces the largest number of movies in the world annually and films like ‘RRR’, ‘KGF’, ‘Baahubali’ and ‘Pathaan’ among others are a testament to the fact that Indian movies mint a lot of money. In fact, other than the US, India is the only country where a vast majority of cinema is for domestic viewership.

Earlier, during the conference, while speaking about the reach of Indian cinema and its impact, Anurag said, “Recently when I hosted a young delegation of central Asian countries, they were dancing to the tunes of ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ and ‘Disco Dancer’. The younger generation of those countries at the age of early 20s listening to these songs says a lot about the kind of impact the Indian industry has in that region.”

He added, “Being the chairman of the SCO as well as the presidency of the G20, India has traditionally had long historical and cultural ties with the SCO region and we have seen the impact of that in the way our films have been received in those regions.”

According to a press release by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, they are organizing the SCO Film Festival from January 27 – January 31, 2023, in Mumbai, through the National Film Development Corporation. It is pertinent to mention that India took over the SCO presidency for the year 2023.

The SCO member countries are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; three Observer States: Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia and fourteen Dialogue Partners Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar, UAE and Turkey are also participating in the festival.

In this film festival, there is a competition section, which is for the SCO Member States only and comprises various prestigious awards like Best Feature Film, Best Actor (Male), Best Actor (Female), Best Director (Feature Film), and Special Jury Award.

Meanwhile, the non-competition section is for all SCO countries, that is member states and observer States and Dialogue Partners States fall into the following categories: SCO Country Focus films, Director Focus films, Children Focus films, Short films and Indian Restored Classic.
India’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category, ‘Chhello Show’, a Gujarathi film, will be screened in the competition section. Along with it, Shoojit Sircar’s Sardar Udham, SS Rajamouli’s period film RRR in SCO country focus.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi in Director Focus, Mridul Toolsidas’s Junior in Children Focus and the short film Jugalbandi by Chetan Bhakuni will be showcased.

In addition to the film screenings, the festival will have master classes, in-conversation sessions, country and state pavilions, photo and poster exhibitions, handicrafts stalls, and many other events.

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