Kripalani hasn’t worked on the film, nor is he associated with it in any way. He does however, have a similarly titled 2017 film called Tikli And Laxmi Bomb, currently streaming on Netflix. The hordes of people expressing outrage towards the trailer of the Akshay Kumar-starrer have mistakenly hit out at Kripalani’s film. It’s a case of mistargeted targeted outrage. Remember the Snapchat/Snapdeal mix-up in 2017?
After the trailer of Laxmmi Bomb dropped earlier this week, it appears that many sought to express their dislike by downvoting the film on Google reviews and IMDb. This has become a common way for trolls to express their hatred towards a film or its stars. “The Google rating of my film used to be around 4.2 out of 5, but the other day suddenly I saw it was 3.2. So I wondered why suddenly so many people were disliking the film and how I got 40 new ratings in 2 days, when the total number of people that have rated the film on Google was like 70 over a few years,” says Kriplani. His Tikli and Laxmi Bomb follows a group of spunky Mumbai sex workers who decide to take charge and eliminate the middle man by forming their own co-operative.
“It’s only when I read the reviews and saw they were abusing Akshay Kumar and saying things like ‘South Indian remake..fuck all content’ that I realised what had actually happened,” he adds.
The makers of Laxmmi Bomb have removed the like/dislike feature from the trailer on YouTube, the ratio of which is usually a key metric in determining the overall response to a film’s trailer. They’ve also disabled both IMDb and Google ratings, which is one of the reasons Kripalani believes people are targeting his film.
Aside from the obvious frustration of a situation he has no control over, Kripalani’s biggest worry is the lasting impact this could have on his career. For an independent filmmaker who is pitching his work to the festival circuit and producers, ratings and reviews matter. “Because the film is on Netflix, we don’t have access to metrics of how many people have watched it, so all you have is reviews and ratings. So when I’m applying to festivals we normally just send them links of feedback online, like the IMDb ratings, Google reviews and links to other reviews. That’s all we really have.” he says.
He adds that these ratings are also key for smaller films on Netflix like his. With the lack of big stars and the known faces, the first thing people who come across smaller titles do is check it’s IMDb rating or Google reviews. Kripalani says a part of the process of registering a film’s title is ensuring that no similar titles are given out to other films to avoid situations just like this one.
“I still don’t know how this happened. We register our titles with IMPPA (The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association), but if I wanted to register a title like Tikli and Laxmi Bomb today, I can’t do it if there is a Laxxmi Bomb already. I cannot name my film anything close to that title whether I put 3 ‘m’s or 16 ‘m’s after the ‘x’. So I’m surprised they let this happen.” He has since written to IMPPA to understand why this was allowed.
“For us success is never just about the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Tikli And Laxmi Bomb has taken 3 years to find its place and then this happens,” he adds.