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What's Wrong with Democracy? Ask The Makers of Gunday

By David Goldenberg

“Gunday,” which came out of the huge Bollywood studio Yash Raj Films in February, isn’t that bad. There are a few large plot holes and unconvincing character motivations, but the dance sequences are top-notch, the costumes are fun, and Irrfan Khan’s portrayal of a world-weary policeman is as good as his fans have come to expect. In India, it’s the top-grossing February movie in Bollywood history. The New York Times’ Rachel Saltz ended her review of “Gunday” by calling it “downright enjoyable.” RogerEbert.com gave it three out of four stars. Variety called it “a boisterous and entertaining period crime drama.”

But the film made a misstep that has doomed it to the bottom of the IMDb pile. “Gunday” offended a huge, sensitive, organized and social-media-savvy group of people who were encouraged to mobilize to protest the movie by giving it the lowest rating possible on IMDb. Of “Gunday’s” ratings, 36,000 came from outside the U.S., and 91 percent of all reviewers gave it one star. The next lowest-rated movie on IMDb — 1.8 stars overall — has a more even distribution of ratings, with only 71 percent of reviewers giving it one star. The evidence suggests the push to down-vote “Gunday” was successful, and that shows just how vulnerable data can be, especially when it’s crowdsourced.

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