Which Camp Are You In Anyway?

Once upon a time (not too long ago), you could like or dislike a film without being accused of being biased. It was fine to have an opinion, even when it sometimes bordered on being extreme and unreasonable. It was, after all, just one of the several opinions that film journalists, trade analysts, fellow industrywallahs and members of the aam junta individually had.

And then, Twitter changed it all. The moment celebrities came to Twitter, so did their “fans”. These are people who spend almost the entire day on Twitter, trolling celebrities, journalists, trade analysts and fans of rival stars. They exist in large numbers for Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, and much smaller numbers for Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan.

I have to confess that their existence has fascinated me. So the least I can do as a tribute to these chaps is to write a blog post about them. So here goes…

My first real troll experience happened this August, when I tweeted about how Bodyguard didn’t work for me. I was accused of various thing – from being Shahrukh Khan’s agent to having manipulated box office sites to under-report the box office performance of the film. I was this warrior out there, sent by SRK to end Salman’s career. And I had only some 500-odd followers then!

(Of course, rational arguments don’t work in such cases. For example, it is near impossible to drive home a point as simple as this: A good opening doesn’t mean the audiences have liked a film. It only means they had reasons to come to the theatre in the first 2-4 days, because of the starcast, music, genre and other such factors.)

So, while Salman fans were dissing me, I was this newfound hero for Shahrukh Khan fans. They told me SRK fans are more “well behaved” than Salman fans, and hence, they will never do the same to me if and when I didn’t like an SRK film. I sent courteous smileys back to some such messages. Eventually, I blocked some nasty, abusive Salman fans, and life moved on.

The Bodyguard case was at least simple enough. I didn’t like a film, and the star’s fans ganged up against me. What has happened with Ra.One is even more intriguing. Almost to the point of being inexplicable. Let me try explaining.

Sequence of events in the last three weeks or so:

1. Chammak Challo is no. 1 on Heartbeats (our music charts): SRK fans are super thrilled and Salman fans think SRK has paid my company for this. They question the research design & methodology. Yes, the same research that put Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard songs on the top almost every week for the last one year.

2. Ormax Media predicts that Ra.One will break Bodyguard’s opening weekend record: The hero worship from SRK fans continues. As does more dissing from Salman fans.

3. Teri Meri from Bodyguard overtakes Chammak Challo to regain the no. 1 position on the charts: This happened one week before Ra.One’s release. SRK fans were confused. Wasn’t Ormax Media on “their side”? Now what happened suddenly? Even as Salman fans were over the moon, SRK fans dissed Teri Meri, outraging over its inclusion in the charts despite it being a rip-off. Of course, it didn’t matter if we explained that they were “consumer charts” after all.

4. I wrote a blog post about how Ra.One’s hype seems to have created a mismatch between expectations and delivery from the film: Suddenly, SRK fans, who were calling me their superhero till this point, began a smear campaign. Overnight, I was a part of Salman’s camp, even though the same post mentioned that Ra.One is a much better film than Bodyguard. I was told that everyone in the industry wants to run SRK down, and my company has been paid money to do the same. Yes, the exact opposite of what I was told by Salman fans about two days before the film’s release. A Salman fan whom I had blocked during the Bodyguard troll phase (for being repetitively abusive) requested for an unblock, innocently mentioning that he had no idea why I had blocked him.

Clearly, this love-hate saga is not over. Over the next two weeks, Ra.One will attempt to break several records. Some it will, some it won’t. But with each attempt, the fans of the two “camps” will hurl abuses at each other (you have to read some of their one-on-one interactions to believe how nasty they can be). Some of these abuses will come in my direction too. Ab toh aadat si padh gayi hai.

PS: For the record, we are working in various capacities with nine top studios/ producers in Bollywood. Our work over the next 12 months is likely to include working on films of most of the top stars, including SRK, Salman, Aamir, Akshay, Ajay, Ranbir and others. With a portfolio as wide as that, the only “camp” we belong to is a new, unified camp we are trying to create: “The Believers in Film Research Camp”.

About Shailesh Kapoor

Founder & CEO - Ormax Media. Film Lover. Media Insights Detective. Budding Author. Lifelong Student.
This entry was posted in Films and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Which Camp Are You In Anyway?

  1. harsht says:

    Your points about fandom are very well articulated! In the US, this online fan culture ( especially wrt TV shows like American Idol, Survivors, more recently Glee) inspired so much research from the early 2000s onwards, however even online earlier they were gated communities ( by virtue of being forums on dedicated websites).
    Twitter has provided a platform where Rival fans come on the same platform and interesting things happen! Many communication researchers call these parasocial interactions (i.e. these people feel a need to communicate with these stars and these forums help them put to form these imagined interactions).
    But one thing that has happened with these discussions moving to a large scale platform like Twitter is that these are no longer restricted to fans. Others receive, participate and add to the conversation at times. These sentiments ( they ways they manifest in the form of trending topics, top tweets etc) have potentially huge implications on cultural markets ( at least where the digital divide is not as stark). This is an interesting read I thought : http://www.hpl.hp.com/research/scl/papers/socialmedia/socialmedia.pdf

  2. selim says:

    so now what do u think ur nothing star power is everything. always mind it!!!””

  3. Astroshiva says:

    My tweets on #RaOne and #SRK have met with same harsh response from an SRK fan. I appreciated the film for its technical brilliance but also pointed out the problems with its screenplay, characterisation and BGM etc. My point was, inspite of its huge budget, this film fails to achieve what Endhiran did. Nevertheless, SRK earns a great deal of respect for dreaming something as big as RaOne. People are going to remember this film for its visual treat, just as they remember Burning Train or Shalimar. (or may be Shaan)
    My tweets pointing the negative side of RaOne didnt go well with a twitter user and he started abusing me. I did not go to reply, and I had to block that Twittet user. Khan worshipping fanbase on twitter is slowly turning into a virtual mob and this is certainly not a good sign for cinema.

  4. Kulfi says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog. While I’m a die-hard Salman Khan fan, you must’ve noticed from my tweets to you that I don’t believe in cursing other celebs just to show that I’m a Salman fan. Salman himself doesn’t promote such hatred that some of fans have in them in the name of love for him. You can love him and be his fan but show respect as well. While I’m not a fan of Shahrukh, for various reasons and I don’t agree with a lot things he and his fans say, it doesn’t mean I’ll go and curse him. Of course, as a Salman fan you want his film to be appreciated and loved by all.

    I’ve over the years noticed that the reason Salman fans feel so much of disgust towards SRK or his fans is because of the simple fact that they are very unfair to Salman and his fans. These are the same SRK fans who loved Salman when they both were friends and suddenly when they are no longer friends, SRK fans want to blame Salman’s attitude for everything? Does anyone even really know the truth about what went wrong? No. Assuming that Salman is a jerk, this and that won’t help their own argument.

    Over the past week or so, I’ve been sent a lot of hate messages from SRK fans just because I said, Ra.One isn’t a film that I’d waste my money on in theaters. I will watch it but when it shows on TV. Over the years, one can also see that within the industry (critics, award shows), there has been a lot of biased towards SRK. One can’t deny that. Many times SRK hadn’t deserve the award yet he was given. His movies can be crap but they will still get 3-4 stars but he’s Shahrukh Khan. So is that fair? I don’t think so. We all are entitled to our own opinions about films and celebs but attacking the ‘opposition’ won’t solve anything. SRK fans who were hero worshiping you suddenly turned you into their enemy. So obviously it’s not just Salman fans who react, Shahrukh fans do too. But like Salman, his fans are also known to be jerks just because they are ready to stand by him, defend him till their last breath. His fans have been, are and will be very strong and loyal towards him.

  5. Pavan R Chawla says:

    Lovely post, Shailesh! You’ve succinctly captured what happens all the time.

  6. Anonymous says:

    this intolerance is not only restricted in the entertainment industry but can be seen in all walks of life these days, so what is new, just take it in stride and make sure we always get honest opinion from you

  7. Karan says:

    ooh, what a jerk off!

    he wants fame out of both srk and salman fans for his ormax and box office india site

  8. Anirudh says:

    Agree with Karan. These guys dont mind when they are praised. And they never want to lose out on a controversy. They very punctual in hashtagging everything tweet to grab attention.
    Trolls are excused when they have a good thing to say. You question their approach or bias’es…thats it you become a TROLL.
    Shekar, if you are so particular why dont you protect your tweets? Why dont you just DM around your fans? In a open platform like twitter you get roses as well as brickbats. Learn to live with it.
    And i know you wont publish this…

  9. getfilmy says:

    Very nice post.
    If the fans would be a bit more reasonable we wouldn’t run into such dilemmas.
    But then it wouldn’t be half as fun, would it? 🙂

  10. shaileshkapoor I’m following you on twitter

  11. Anonymous says:

    Salman fans are the biggest chutiyas in the world…They are abusive and plain idiotic, no wonder they enjoy senseless movies like Ready and Bodyguard.

  12. APK says:

    There are fans for Aamir also, but they are not active on Twitter. They are most likely to be found on Facebook as their favorite star is active there. They used to be very active on his blog too. He has the most varied kind of fans – the ones who only want to watch his film and don’t care about media, critical acclaim, much less box office, second, are the ones who are interested in ”quality of his work” and brag about social impact of his films (like 3I, RDB, TZP etc.) and want him to do ”different” stuff. Third ones are regular fanatics who are as much particular about usual stuff as box office, records, rankings, Twitter trends, Google trends and whatnot. The one thing common to Aamir fans of all kinds is that they get active only when his film is up for release. They disappear or keep low profile if he’s on a break. Even if he does have a film coming up for release in a particular year, his fans don’t get active till he himself resurfaces and starts promoting the film.
    Aamir fans rarely believe in going to comment on sites, blogs or grab media-persons or trade analysts by collar on Twitter that’s because they’ve always believed ”media is nothing”, much of it is ”biased” against Aamir and whatever that people say doesn’t matter. They don’t have organised ”armies” because within an Aamir fans forum one is likely to find 5 different opinions (someone loved Fanaa someone hated it, someone wants him to make films like DG while someone wants him to break records at BO, someone likes Lagaan better than DCH and vice versa!). Barring a certain section, they don’t have tendency of blindly praising whatever he does and tend to give honest opinion on his films or other decisions. Partly that could be because Aamir himself doesn’t encourage or respond a bit to fawning fans on his own blog or FB and is always most likely to personally respond to those fans who give open and honest opinion, without sugar-coating or using any hyperbole.
    Aamir fans tend to discuss more amongst themselves – be it praise, criticism or their own opinions/expectations, than arguing with others (barring a certain section) or directly try to communicate to Aamir through his blog or FB. It’s mostly between Aamir and his fans.
    One thing which unites all kinds of Aamir fans is utter disdain for polls and awards (even people’s choice ones)! A ”vote for Aamir” topic or call is likely to get a cold response from 99.99% of them! They find it stupid and ”below dignity” to vote in polls, comment on sites to ”defend” Aamir and usually they advise each other to ignore any anti-Aamir stuff. Another thing which binds them is disapproval of his long breaks from movies. All of them want at least one film a year starring him as main lead.
    They believe anything he does would be ”good” and ”different” and take him as ”genius”. They do watch all his films, even if they end up having divided opinions on them at times! One can always find irony in Aamir fans community – they will feel a certain film won’t work and wonder why he signed it, but later, they’d say they have full faith in him, they’ll feel why the hell he signed for a TV show and delayed his films due to it, but then feel he might redefine TV as anything he does is special.
    Aamir does not delete comments from haters on his blog or FB, he does not block or ban anyone and has no moderators. He simply tells his fans to ignore stuff they don’t like or find ”offensive” (as comments from haters or fans of rival stars). He’s never replied to any hater or written status updates or posts to complain about their behaviour. I think his stance reflects on majority of his fans too. They prefer to ignore, than to respond to everyone. At best they would bitch about a ”biased journo” or ”hater” amongst themselves and leave it at that, later telling each other to ignore than go out and have wars and face-offs with everyone.
    He has his craze, fan following, but of a different kind (considering their blend of conventional and unconventional behaviour for ”typical fans”).

  13. Star says:

    I say let the actors be just that ACTORS, one can admir the actor but respect the man. I don’t see Mr. Salman Khan out there putting down Ra One, but one can not say the same for SRK as he is refered to. I don’t agree with putting anyone down but you also have to agree that some of the reviewers of the movies did not stop for a second to publicly put down Bodyguard, so it is not just the fans of the actors. These two actors play different roles and whether you like them personally in their films is a matter of opinion. I personally have not met either man so to say how I view them as a person can not be done. But I do believe that to be judged as a man based on a role one plays is not something my mind can go to.

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