Deepika Padukone’s film based on the real-life story of an acid-attack survivor, Chhapaak has failed to deliver the best at the box-office despite receiving critical acclamation. What’s more pressing than its performance is that the film has surrounded itself with controversies, that may or may not imply how the movie performs at the box-office. Is it a case of marketing gone wrong or it’s just the bad timing?

There are very few movies that talk about real-life incidents and are made to create awareness in society. One among them is recently released Chhapaak, directed by Meghna Gulzar and Deepika Padukone as the producer and lead actor. The story of a girl who is attacked with acid for refusing to marry a boy who she doesn’t love and the struggle she faces dealing with the harsh reality and regaining her confidence and due respect in society.

Malti had us hooked to her struggles, her journey to achieve something for the greater good left all of us inspired and motivated. The movie made a box-office collection of around 30 crores in two weeks, which is quite less as compared to the returns expected from an A-lister’s movie. Although the movie is critically appreciated and loved, the lead actress has been receiving backlash for more than one reason.

The actress had remained silent/neutral to pressing political issues for a long time, her visit to JNU to express solidarity with students two days before the release of her film, landed her and the film in the puddle of murky political discussions.

Soon after the visit #BoycottChhapaak trended on Twitter as the fans, haters and trolls dismissed the actress’ move. Screenshots floated on Twitter of people cancelling the tickets to boycott the movie.

We can always debate on whether the actress’ heart really went out for the students who suffered from the violence or the visit was a suicidal publicity stunt

But is the Twitter trend the real reason for the downfall of the film? 

 

Deepika has received hate in the past over her movie Padmaavat right from people vandalising the set to staged protests planned to boycott the movie. Regardless of which, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat performed exceptionally well in India as well as Global territories

With this lens, Deepika’s move sounds like a well-calculated risk and grabbed eyeballs from every sect of the audience, who earlier had no business with the movie. And this leads to the question, Marketing done right or wrong?

A day prior to the release a rumor regarding the name of the antagonist began doing rounds. The story which is based on true events talks about the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. Netizens allegedly claimed that the name was changed from Nadeem Khan to Rajesh, bringing in the Hindu/Muslim angle to it. But, Laxmi’s name was changed to Malti and the culprit was named ‘Babboo’ aka ‘Bashir Khan’. Rajesh was Malti’s boyfriend’s name.

The response that the trailer received created huge expectations amongst movie enthusiasts that the movie is going to do great at the theatre. Unfortunately the numbers tell a different story.

Was the moviealways destined to perform like this, because of the sensitive subject and not being a masala Bollywood movie, the Indian Movie Buffsare used to putting commercial entertainers into 300 Crore club?

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?? #ChhapaakTriumph #Repost @hothurfoundation with @get_repost ・・・ HOTHUR FOUNDATION congratulates @deepikapadukone and @meghanagulzar for the tremendous positivity and change CHHAPAAK has already brought and turned the way people perceive survivors of acid attacks. Our brave team sends their best your way ❤ . . . #hothurfoundation #chhapaak #movie #deepikapadukone #meghnagulzar #aralumiere #speciallyabledchildren #celebrategiving #handcrafted #embraceyourscars #acidattacksurvivors #skinbanking #victoryoverviolence #braveisbeautiful #confidenceisbeautiful #hothurfoundationprovisionasia #kulsumshadabwahab#empoweredwomen #bravery #celebratingflaws #coloursofhope #artworkshop #arttheraphy #leagueofextraordinarywomen

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Well, the buck for controversies does not end here. Can’t say if it is just the falling numbers or the personal resolve towards the cause, the actress is trying her best to pump life into the movie with marketing gimmicks that are innocently (debatable again) touching wrong nerves.

Deepika launched a TikTok look challenge, turning Malti’s acid attack face into a look. While appreciating the beauty of a burnt face is a noble act, making it a challenge and is being considered as going a little overboard. The backlash comes in the vain of people criticising the actress for being insensitive and dismissing off the trauma of acid attack victims by confining it into a makeup challenge.

Some of the questions that remain unanswered are, whether these controversies have negatively impacted the movie or this is the fuel that has kept the movie alive amidst the spiral of silence and not letting it die at least in conversations

Should Deepika stop the marketing initiatives and let the story decide the fate of a movie as new promotional activities can turn it in any direction.

Will Chhapaak get what it deserves?

We think there is a mismatch in the expectations of every stakeholder involved here. Tell us what are your thoughts on this?