Afwaah: The Film We All Skipped Watching in Theaters. Why Did Afwaah Fail at the Box Office and Why It is a Must Watch on Netflix?

Every movie has the power to leave an indelible impact on its viewers, whether it’s through excitement, entertainment, or even moments of boredom.

However, there are rare films that compel us to pause, reflect, and delve deeper into the intricacies of life, even amidst our busy façade.

Enter Afwaah, the Hindi film that silently graced the theaters on May 5, 2023.

Helmed by Sudhir Mishra and featuring an ensemble cast including Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bhumi Pednekar, Sumit Vyas, Sharib Hashmi, and others, this cinematic gem sought to explore the far-reaching consequences of one of the most powerful tools of our time: rumors.

Intriguingly, the very title of the film, ‘Afwaah,’ translates to ‘rumor’ in English, thus embodying its core essence.

By delving into the labyrinthine world of fake news and narrative manipulation within our social media-driven society, Afwaah dares to question just how effortlessly falsehoods can spread like wildfire, often controlling the course of events.

But don’t worry, I won’t divulge the entire plot here. Instead, I encourage you to embark on this thought-provoking journey yourself, now available for streaming on Netflix.

Sadly, Afwaah faced a similar fate as another socially impactful recent film, Bheed, which shed light on the harrowing realities of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite its commendable subject matter, Afwaah struggled to make a mark at the box office, earning a mere INR 0.30 crores in its entire lifetime (source).

In this blog, we will together explore the reasons behind Afwaah’s failure at the ticket windows. However, before we venture into that realm, let us first address a burning question.

Why Afwaah is a Must Watch?


Relevance reigns supreme in Afwaah. The film delves into the rumors of beef smuggling, hate, divisive politics, etc., shedding light on pervasive issues in India.

Can you imagine the lives of animals holding more importance than those of our fellow human beings? Well, when hate, religion, and politics combine, that’s what happens.

Such news stories inundate us daily from various corners of the country, a trend that has persisted for the past 6-7 years.

Afwaah skillfully captures the rampant use of social media as a platform for peddling fake news, and it boldly confronts our tendency to unquestioningly believe everything we see without proper verification.

The film challenges us to adopt a discerning mindset, urging us to explore alternative angles to any given news or story.

It serves as a stark reminder that every video and clip we encounter has been meticulously edited, and it is our responsibility to approach them with care and skepticism.

Through its gripping narrative, Afwaah exposes how a seemingly innocuous provocation can trigger us if we fail to cultivate open-mindedness and vigilance.

Mirror to Reality

Afwaah serves as a mirror to the stark realities of contemporary India. With its vast landmass and diverse population, India has prided itself on the notion of Unity in Diversity for decades.

However, recent years have witnessed a distressing dent in this once-unified front. The film adeptly explores the deepening divides we have created amongst ourselves, highlighting the subtle daily moments of divergence among communities.

Sudhir Mishra, drawing from his own life experiences, skillfully weaves these narratives into the tapestry of Afwaah.

As a 26-year-old viewer who has witnessed a distressing surge of bigotry in our country, I can confidently say that Mishra possesses the unique ability to shed light on such pressing issues.


Cinematographically, Afwaah is a visual marvel. The film’s camera work, particularly in its climactic moments, is nothing short of superb.

The expertly orchestrated pans and zooms contribute to the overall brilliance of the film. Sudhir Mishra, leaving no stone unturned, showcases his directorial prowess, elevating Afwaah to the upper echelons of his filmography.

Contemporary Take on Religion Based Politics

In an era where religion-based politics continues to rear its divisive head, Afwaah offers a contemporary take on this pertinent issue.

The political exploitation of religion has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon in India, seeping into every nook and cranny of our society.

Not even revered figures like Barack Obama are spared from its clutches. Remember the recent tweet from Assam’s Chief Minister? Allow me to jog your memory:

The underlying message conveyed through his words is self-evident. And this is something he had the courage to write publicly.

What kind of things he must be speaking or propagating at a personal level can only be imagined.

The crux of the matter remains: politics and religion have an inseparable bond, unless we embrace an ideology rooted in love and respect for every individual, regardless of caste, creed, religion, or color.

Let us strive to celebrate our differences and embrace the harmonious coexistence that stems from such acceptance.

Lastly, the storyline of Afwaah stands as a testament to its emotional prowess. The seamless execution of its characters and their individual journeys adds depth and power to the film.

The sentimental aura of Afwaah resonates, captivating viewers and instilling a genuine concern for the deteriorating social fabric of India.


The performances in Afwaah elevate the film to new heights.

Bhumi Pednekar, in particular, emerges as the heart and soul of Afwaah. Her portrayal is nothing short of brilliant, capturing the essence of her character with remarkable authenticity.

Pednekar’s ability to effortlessly convey a wide range of emotions draws viewers deeper into the film’s intricate web, making them emotionally invested in her journey.

Through her nuanced performance, Pednekar showcases her skills as a versatile actress, further solidifying her position as one of the industry’s finest talents.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a stalwart in the realm of unconventional roles, leads Afwaah with finesse. His depiction exhibits a rough and smart countenance, perfectly fitting the character’s complexities.

Siddiqui’s performance transcends the conventional hero-villain dichotomy, effectively shaping the perception of the film.

With his impeccable acting skills and innate ability to immerse himself in any role, Nawaz cements his position as a master craftsman.

Sumeet Vyas, known for his charismatic presence, delivers a stupendous performance in a negative role, showcasing his adaptability as an actor.

Vyas effortlessly embodies the traits and mannerisms of his character, adding depth and intrigue to the narrative.

His magnetic charm, combined with his ability to evoke a wide range of emotions, contributes significantly to the overall impact of Afwaah.

Then there is Sharib Hashmi, known for his valuable portrayals, who delivers a captivating performance that leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

His ability to own a character with such conviction and depth is truly commendable. Hashmi is so effective that he evokes strong emotions from viewers, making them despise him for his onscreen actions.

Yes, Afwaah is not perfect, but it did nothing wrong to deserve 0.30 crores in its lifetime.

Now, it is time to consider the primary question.

Why Afwaah Flopped at the Box Office?

After reading this blog, you might wonder, if Afwaah was so thought-provoking and impactful, why did it fail to make waves at the ticket counters?

I have tried to capture the reasons, which, in my opinion, were behind Afwaah’s poor run.

No Audience for Small-budget Films

One undeniable truth is that the landscape of cinema has undergone a seismic shift in recent times. The pandemic-induced rise of OTT platforms has revolutionized the way audiences consume films.

This newfound accessibility has inadvertently led to a preference for big-budget productions and star-studded affairs on the big screen.

Unfortunately, this shift has made it increasingly challenging for small-budget gems like Afwaah to find their footing in traditional theatrical releases.

Despite receiving critical acclaim, such films often find themselves confined to the digital realm, struggling to attract audiences amidst the allure of grandiose spectacles.

High Ticket Prices

Go to any chain of cinema halls, shows after 12 PM cost at least Rs. 250 for the middle row. From the outset, the amount might not sound huge.

However, when seen with the massive outburst of OTT platforms, it feels tremendously heavy on the pockets of cinephiles.

When they can catch a month’s subscription for the same amount, why would they spend it on just one film?

The largest cinema chain in India is PVR, and take a look at this screenshot:

The middle row on a Sunday costs Rs. 450 at PVR Anupam in Delhi. How can you expect the common people to join you at the movies when the costs are simply unaffordable?

Moreover, popcorn and beverages during a film have become a dream nowadays, with prices starting from Rs. 300-350 for a small popcorn bucket.

For, Afwaah, ticket prices were not too high, but the audience stayed away, saving their bucks for a potential big-budget film in future.

The Narrative

But here’s the real kicker—the narrative. The Indian movie-going audience, influenced by the prevailing sociopolitical climate, has developed a selective mindset when it comes to the films they choose to watch on the big screen.

We’ve become polarized to such an extent that any movie that dares to challenge the status quo is met with apprehension.

It’s disheartening to witness how even the slightest critique of the ruling party can hamper a film’s prospects.

Just look at the fate of films like Kuttey, which boasted a talented cast and garnered rave reviews, and Anurag Kashyap’s Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat, both of which failed to resonate with the masses despite their cinematic merits.

And they were not even politically in contrast to the ruling party. But maybe, the filmmakers’ real-life ideologies had a role to play.

Even the brilliant Hansal Mehta’s Faraaz struggled to make a mark. These examples, among others, underscore the difficult plight of films that are well-received by critics but fail to ignite the box office.

Afwaah Questions Us

Afwaah isn’t just a film; it’s a mirror that reflects us. It forces us to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves.

The film courageously explores how easily we fall into the trap of peddling fake news, be it driven by religion, politics, or even the rule of law.

It holds up a mirror to our own complicity in perpetuating falsehoods. Yet, human psychology dictates that we often confront our shortcomings privately, in the recesses of our minds, rather than openly acknowledging them.

Afwaah dares to challenge us, and perhaps that challenge is too uncomfortable for some to face in a public setting.

Final Word

In the end, the fate of Afwaah at the box office is a confluence of several complex factors.

It’s a stark reminder of the changing dynamics in the film industry, the influence of the prevailing narrative, and the discomfort we often feel when confronted with our own shortcomings.

While box office success does not necessarily define the quality or impact of a film, it is disheartening to see a film of such caliber not receive the recognition it deserves.

So, let us not be swayed solely by box office numbers but instead embrace the depth, relevance, and courage of films like Afwaah.

After all, art’s true purpose lies in challenging us, pushing boundaries, and encouraging introspection—even if it means venturing beyond the boundaries of traditional theaters.

Afwaah may have flown under the radar during its theatrical run, but it possesses the potential to be a transformative experience for those who give it a chance.

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