- "Audience gives tight slap to Thappad," read the report
- Anubhav Sinha insists his film is making a profit
- He alleged that the report was an attempt to "extort money"
Thappad director Anubhav Sinha has gone on a Twitter offensive, backed by several colleagues, against Box Office India, a portal that reports on film earnings. On March 7, the website's Twitter handle posted a report on how much Thappad had made by its second Friday in cinemas; the headline of the report read "Audience gives TIGHT SLAP to Thappad" - had the report adhered to the headline format typical of Box Office India reports, it would have read "Thappad's second Friday Business."
In addition to the editorialized headline, the text of the report itself is unusually derogatory. The first para reads, "The much raved (by media) about Thappad which was actually called the most important film ever made in India on release has been given a tight slap by the audience. These sort of gimmicks actually deserve this sort of treatment from the audience. The film has been totally rejected everywhere with even metro cities recording not so good collections."
The inflammatory Box Office India report soon lit a fire on Twitter. Incensed, author Aseem Chhabra tweeted, "Such a poor, irresponsible piece. Report the box office figures but keep your regressive, patriarchal views to yourself. Understand that Thappad may not have performed well at BO but that does not change the fact that it is a very important film." Actress and media personality Mini Mathur asked, "Hey Box Office India, why are you almost "celebrating" a film getting lower collections than expected? Isn't this vicious and ugly reportage of the very industry your represent? A #Thappad for this personal delight." Producer Ekta Kapoor tweeted her agreement:
I so agree! A good film in times like this does NOT DESERVE THS CAPTION! https://t.co/WGQ27EXrT1— Ekta Kapoor (@ektarkapoor) March 7, 2020
An enraged Anubhav Sinha posted several expletive-filled (he later apologised for his language) responses to the tweets about the offensive report. In two of the tweets, Mr Sinha disputed that his film was not making money and also alleged that Box Office India's reporting was influenced by his refusal to pay money for a favourable account of earnings.
In a response to Aseem Chhabra, Anubhav Sinha tweeted: "It has performed very well, Aseem. I am the producer. I have the P&L. Wait. It is doing exactly what I thought it'll do. Make money." Mr Sinha could be right on this count since earnings always need to be weighed against the spend and it's not always the money that defines the success of a film. As he pointed out in a separate tweet, iconic films like Lamhe, Silsila and Andaz Apna Apna were not money-spinners. "Some movies flop at 130 (crore) like Ra.One and some are superhits at 35 (crore)."
Responding to Mini Mathur, Anubhav Sinha made his allegation about what he described as an attempt on Box Office India's part to "extort money." He tweeted, "Here is the chronology. These slime balls write s**t. Extort money. Stop writing. I don't pay. They write. I don't pay. They write again and again and again. I don't pay and I win." Box Office India had also been unfair to his previous film Article 15, Mr Sinha suggested.
In a separate tweet, Mr Sinha wrote, "These pests get paid by stars and producers to inflate their collections to the tune of 20-30 crore."
The numbers for Thappad, so disparagingly reported by Box Office India, do match those reported by other trade analysts. Taran Adarsh reported similar figures, describing them as "underwhelming." He certainly didn't liken the earnings to a "tight slap" though, nor did he express the opinion that the film deserved to lose money.
#Thappad is below the mark in Week 1... Finds patronage in #Delhi, #NCR, but is underwhelming in most circuits... Needs miraculous strength in Weekend 2... Fri 3.07 cr, Sat 5.05 cr, Sun 6.54 cr, Mon 2.26 cr, Tue 2.21 cr, Wed 2.01 cr, Thu 1.65 cr. Total: 22.79 cr. #India biz.— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) March 6, 2020
Of course, "underwhelming" collections don't mean that the film is not profitable.
Thappad, starring a cast led by Taapsee Pannu, deals with domestic violence and opened on February 28 to glowing reviews from critics.