Sadak 2 is the latest Bollywood movie coming direct to streaming later this month, on August 28. With a Disney+ Hotstar premiere in a couple of weeks, Sadak 2 Trailer is out now and it is getting a lot of hate amidst the entire nepotism debate in Bollywood. However, I think that disliking and downvoting a movie or TV show in the era of digital-exclusive releases is a waste. Before you outrage, let me explain.
First of all, streaming services are like walled worlds. You can enter by paying a fee but what you watch and how you watch it is massively controlled by the streaming platform itself.
Add to that, services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Voot, ALTBalaji rarely release numbers for viewership, likability, and preferences. They do so only when it suits their narrative.
So, unlike an open system such as theater releases where audience has transparency on what's going on, streaming platforms cannot be judged and thus not controlled from the outside.
Let's take an example. Suppose Sadak 2 was to release across thousands of theaters in India. If a campaign to boycott took place in that case, it would be decently successful depending upon the anger among moviegoers.
It would be visible on a daily basis with respect to box office numbers, ticket sales, footfalls, audience reviews, and several other metrics. These things can really impact a movie's sales and likability.
But in the case of a streaming platform, it acts more like a studio. After all, it has paid crores to acquire a Bollywood movie especially of the scale of Sadak 2.
Why would the platform then want to reveal numbers that dishonour a movie that Disney+ Hotstar owns?
Let's move to the dislike campaign now.
Sadak 2 trailer has become the most disliked video on YouTube beating the likes of big creators like PewDiePie and Faisal (Tiktok).
With more than 5.5 million dislikes, Sadak 2 trailer surely acts as a milestone that is utterly shameful for Mahesh Bhatt's production house. It goes down in history as the most disliked video on the biggest streaming platform in the world.
But it doesn't really hurt his cause given the short recall of an online audience. Even if the studio decides to take a break, they can reappear in a year or two and release another film after everything is forgotten.
As for short-term, this actually helps the studio. To dislike the video, you will obviously have to register a view. Despite the high dislike ratio, YouTube algorithm will still see the surge in views and recommend it to more users.
Other than that, this news gets the trailer a ton of media coverage which will further strengthen the Streisand effect that causes Sadak 2's trailer to get a signficantly higher number of views.
And finally, let's address whether we can really boycott the movie on Disney+ Hotstar. I'm sure some of the people involved can. But unlike a theater where you pay as you go, a streaming platform has an ongoing subscription model.
If you already are a subscriber, Disney+ Hotstar doesn't feel the impact even if you boycott a particular film. As for the studio, it has already sold its movie to Hotstar so it doesn't get a piece of the pie anyway.
Where this boycott can have some sort of impact is reducing the number of new subscribers. When a growing platform like Disney+ Hotstar pays crores for a Bollywood film, it does so in the hope of getting at least thousands of more subscribers that will help justify the price it paid.
That is one area where Disney+ Hotstar can feel the difference, but obviously we will never get to know considering these numbers are almost never revealed.
It is important to ward off a prohibitive nepotism in the Indian film industry right now.
Ever since Sushant Singh Rajput's demise, the radar has been on top directors like Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt who have promoted nepotism in ways that have changed the film industry for worse.
Entry into Bollywood should be more transparent and non-prohibitive. With a discourse in action, we might just see the government or law enforcement authorities stepping in to ensure that this change happens.
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