The curious case of negative campaigns against Malayalam films

Malayalam filmmakers and actors speak about how their movies are targeted by a section of people on social media.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published Sep 10, 2023 | 11:00 AMUpdatedNov 13, 2023 | 5:38 PM

Negative campaigns against Malayalam films

Negative campaigns have become a serious cause of concern for filmmakers across industries, especially those in Bollywood, of late.

Aamir Khan’s Lal Singh Chaddha (2022) and Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandhan (2022) bore the brunt of the boycott campaign on social media. Similarly, Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan (2023) also faced the wrath of haters due to the Islamophobia directed at its lead actor.

Mollywood, too, has witnessed a rise in negative campaigns in recent times.

A host of directors, producers, and actors recently spoke out against the paid hate campaigns carried out against their projects by a section of people on social media. They alleged that the online reviews and negative posts affected their business.

Targeted attacks

Nivin Pauly in Ramachandra Boss and Co

Nivin Pauly in ‘Ramachandra Boss and Co’. (Supplied)

Many hyped films in Malayalam like Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham (Mohanlal, 2021), Odiyan (Mohanlal, 2018), CBI 5: The Brain (Mammootty, 2022), Mamangam (Mammootty, 2019), Aaraattu (Mohanlal, 2022), Christopher (Mammootty, 2023) faced negative campaigns on social media.

All these movies opened to mixed or negative reviews on social media in the initial days.

B Unnikrishnan, director of Aaraattu and Christopher, once observed, “Criticism is a democratic exchange that should be insightful and sharp. But it becomes pure abuse when it gets into body shaming and verbal attacks.”

Mohanlal spoke against the negative comments when his Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham was released. He wondered why people not connected to cinema were speaking ill of the film and asserted that one needed to have an idea about filmmaking before criticising.

Filmmaker Anjali Menon, during the promotion of her movie Wonder Women (2022), said: “Critics, before writing a review, should know how a film is made. Sadly, most reviewers don’t even have knowledge of how to review one!”

Also Read: Gore and violence make deep inroads into Malayalam cinema!

Online reviews & Malayalam films

King of Kotha received a negative response in social media

‘King of Kotha’ received a negative response in social media. (Supplied)

The makers of King of Kotha and Ramachandra Boss & Co said that their films received targeted attacks on the first day itself.

Ramachandra Boss & Co’s production team sought legal action against individuals who spread negative opinions on social media.

The crew alleged that fake accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram were used to degrade the movie, and the people involved repeatedly posted fake reviews and low ratings in the BookMyShow app.

The team also raised objections to the derogatory comments made from the fake accounts and even filed an official complaint against the wrongdoers.

Also Read: ‘B 32 Muthal 44 Vare’ is a daring take on gender politics

‘Why criticise without watching?’

Shruthi Sharanyam faced cyber attacks after film released

Shruthi Sharanyam faced cyber attacks after the release of ‘B 32 Muthal 44 Vare’. (Supplied)

Director Shruthi Sharanyam faced a cyber attack during the release of her movie B 32 Muthal 44 Vare (2023) for which she won the Kerala State Film Award.

Shruthi told South First that she received negative comments (even from those who had not watched her film) and verbal abuse from fake accounts. The culprits didn’t even spare her parents. “This was really depressing as it makes us understand the mindset of these youth.”

King of Kotha, the much-hyped movie by Dulquer Salmaan, also received flak on social media on the day of its release.

The makers claimed that some of the reviews were written even without watching the movie. Actors Nyla Usha and Shammi Thilakan spoke against the targeted negative campaign.

Abhilash Joshiy, director of King of Kotha, told South First that more big-budget Malayalam films are needed to help the industry grow and, for this to happen, the industry needs to stay united.

“Sadly, we have opposition from within the industry. Paid reviews by so-called ‘top reviewers’ are taken at face value by the audience. The purposeful degrading of movies should stop. If not, we are only hindering the growth of our industry,” he observed.

Related: ‘King of Kotha’ team speaks out against targeted negative campaign

Let the audience decide: Abhilash Joshiy

King of Kotha is Abhilash Joshiy's debut movie

‘King of Kotha’ is Abhilash Joshiy’s debut movie. (Supplied)

The director asserted that the audience should hold the right to judge a film. “A person should not make a YouTube video that deters people from watching a movie.”

Abhilash Joshiy further noted: “I wonder how a person can review a film without even mentioning a positive aspect. I try picking a couple of positive angles out of every film. But tearing apart a whole project for ulterior motives is really depressing. It will stop the filmmakers from exploring and growing. The audience should always watch a movie and decide if they like it or not.”

After his directorial — Big Brother (2020) featuring Mohanlal — was criticised badly on social media, the late Siddique pointed out: “Everybody is a reviewer after social media came into existence.”

He further added, “Films are affected by online reviews. Some attack movies for not being paid. For example, not all superhit films go down well with every individual. But earlier, people didn’t have a space to express the same. And now, they express everything via social media which has become a major issue for the industry!”

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