Unrest over CAA Entertainment

In season of protests, time to read a lot in, and between, Bollywood tweets on CAA and NRC

PM Modi with actors, directors and producers from the Hindi film industry in New Delhi on Thursday, January 10, 2019

PM Modi with actors, directors and producers from the Hindi film industry in New Delhi on Thursday, January 10, 2019   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

This time the change is the neat division within Bollywood between the 'selfie' (with the PM) and 'non-selfie' gang

Days after students of Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi, and Aligarh Muslim University protested over the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC, followed by the violent crackdown by the police, some voices of dissent have sprung up in Bollywood too. One could spot a handful of young members of the Hindi film fraternity, joining hands with the students of Mumbai University, at one such demonstration at the Kalina campus gate on Monday.

In the midst of placards like “Our voices are stronger than your guns”, “Woh todenge, hum jodenge”, “Merry Crisis and Happy New Fear”, one could see actor Sushant Singh, writers Atika Chohan, Renuka Kunzru and Ishita Moitra, filmmakers Neeraj Ghaywan, Karan Anshuman and Sudhanshu Saria, among others, and veterans like writer Anjum Rajabali and filmmaker-cinematographer Ajay Noronha. A small but committed group, “not the Bollywood royalty”, as one of them put it, there in solidarity for the country’s secular ideals and driven by a sense of compulsion —“if not now, then when.”

On Monday night, actor Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, left an event at Aram Nagar midway to head for Delhi, as the news of violence in Jamia started trickling in. “Paas reh ke samajh aayega, iss liye jaa raha hoon (Will get a better understanding of things first hand),” he texted. Since then he has come out openly in support of the students at a press meet at the Capital’s Press Club of India.

Meanwhile, over the past couple of days, social media has been going berserk on mainstream Bollywood’s support, or rather the lack of it, for the students.

Just as in any other field of life, there are the obvious supporters of the powers that be — filmmakers Vivek Agnihotri and Ashok Pandit to name just two. The poster boy of the current regime, Akshay Kumar, after “liking” a tweet that appeared to mock the police crackdown on Jamia students, came back saying that it was done by mistake. “Regarding the ‘like’ on the tweet of Jamia Milia students, it was by mistake. I was scrolling and accidentally it must have been pressed and when I realised I immediately unliked it as in no way do I support such acts”. Since then it has been business as usual for him, tweeting “Laal Ghaghra” song from his forthcoming Good Newwz. Then there are others courting silence — the Khans and Big B, who are yet to acknowledge the protests.

Yet another group has emerged within the industry, putting out PR crafted, templated scripts in the name of tweets of empathy, all surprisingly similar in content, diplomatically talking of ifs and buts than taking a clear stand. “What is happening is not okay. The way it’s happening is not okay. People have every right to peacefully voice their opinion. This violence and disruption is both saddening and concerning as a fellow citizen. In no circumstance, must our faith in democracy be shaken,” tweeted Uri hero, Vicky Kaushal, who will be receiving the national award for best actor on December 23.

Ayushmann Khurrana, joint winner of the award for Andhadhun, tweeted: “Deeply disturbed about what the students went through and I strongly condemn this. All of us have the right to protest and exercise our fundamental freedom of expression. However, protests also cannot turn violent and lead to destruction of public property. That simply is counterproductive. Dear countrymen, this is the land of Gandhi. Ahimsa is and should be the tool to express. Have faith in democracy.”

Anurag Kashyap re-emerged from an almost four-month-long social media sabbatical to take the bull by the horns: “This has gone too far.. can’t stay silent any longer . This government is clearly fascist ... and it makes me angry to see voices that can actually make a difference stay quiet ..” By Tuesday evening he was unstoppable, taking on trolls and calling out Home Minister Amit Shah for telling lies about there being no problem anywhere in the country. He exhorted the PM and HM to clearly say that whoever was against Hindu rashtra could walk away. “We will leave,” he tweeted.

Actor Sushant Singh tweeted that his stint with the TV show Savdhaan India had ended. Asked if it had anything to do with his support for the protests, he said, “A very small price my friend. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev aur Rajguru ko kaise jawaab denge (how will we be answerable to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev)?” Time to read a lot in, and between, Bollywood tweets.

Later he told The Hindu about how his contract, valid till January 15, was terminated late on December 16, citing monetary issues. He said: “I have been vocal about issues for a long while... You can make what you want of it from the sequence of events... Work will come and go... I never wanted the focus to be on myself. Instead of the [CAA/NRC] issue, I became the news of the day.”

Fear, business at stake, insecurity, the essential powerlessness of the powerful — several reasons, offered from times immemorial, are being doled out yet again about Bollywood establishment not talking issues. It has buckled several times earlier under extralegal pressure.

This time the change is the neat division within Bollywood between the selfie (with the PM) and non-selfie gang. So you had actor Sayani Gupta tweet directly to the ones in the selfie: “On behalf of the students of Jamia & AMU request at least one of you to tweet or message Mr. Modi condemning this act of police brutality and violence against students. The time has come to speak up guys. Yes? No? May be?”

Those who are speaking up unequivocally, are the ones who are not the selfie-inclined — Richa Chadha, Huma Qureshi, Sudhir Mishra, Anubhav Sinha, Swara Bhaskar, Dia Mirza, Konkona Sen Sharma, and Juhi Chaturvedi among others.

Renuka Shahane could afford to be brave and blase in her tweet to PM Modi: “Sir, please ask people to stay away from all your IT cell Twitter handles then. They spread the most amount of rumours, falsehoods and are totally against brotherhood, peace and unity. The real “tukde tukde” gang is your IT cell sir. Please stop them from spreading hate”.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 9:03:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/in-season-of-protests-time-to-read-a-lot-in-and-between-bollywood-tweets-on-caa-and-nrc/article30333768.ece

Next Story