The impact of the film could be compared to Geeta Phogat’s dhobi paat — when the rival is lifted, swung in the air and then slammed like wet cloth on the mat — on those who wanted to teach the actor a lesson by boycotting the film. Hopefully, they will have realised that India doesn’t tolerate such intolerance.
Nobody would have missed the irony of Dangal. In a theatre where we watched the film first-day-first-show — the standard response to any call for a ban or boycott — the loudest cheers and slogans (some actually chanted Bharat Mata ki Jai) are triggered by the camera panning to Aamir’s face as the National Anthem is played in the climactic moments of the film.
Jana Gana Mana, courtesy the Supreme Court’s decision — is played twice in the film. Before the film’s beginning, when the National Anthem is played, it is seen merely as a duty imposed on an audience that needs to learn the virtues of nationalism and patriotism. But, when it coincides with Aamir’s triumph and elation, the audience reacts spontaneously, stands up in rapt attention, exults with both pride and joy felt by Aamir. In those few seconds alone, the pseudo-nationalists would have died a million deaths watching an actor they had branded anti-national lead the collective rush of love and respect for the country.
Aamir’s PK was the biggest hit of 2014 even as the Hindutva brigade railed against it for “targetting and mocking” their religion. Snapdeal, whose boycott was sought by twitter jihadis because of its association with Aamir, grew in the aftermath of the onslaught. On Diwali, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil made pots of money in spite of calls for a ban and boycott. Chinese products continue to fly off the shelves even when keyboard-nationalists fly into a rage.