The battle for Bollywood

The battle for Bollywood

In these polarised times, both the Left and the Right are hungry for the support Bollywood can bring them. Deepika stepping up has made all the difference

Bollywood is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

People on both ends of the political spectrum have been trying for the industry’s backing.

This is evident from the fact that the three Khans of Bollywood have been villified for their continued silence, and that one of the most circulated pictures since the protest at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is of a bald Akshay Kumar waving a flag of the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the RSS.

However, even Kumar, who has worn his love for Narendra Modi on his sleeve with his curiousity about the prime minister’s favourite mangoes and everything,  has been curiously quiet.

All the big stars condemned the violence, of course, but then so did Amit Shah. They were the usual suspects on either side: Swara Bhasker and Anurag Kashyap on the Left; Vivek Agnihotri and Kangana Ranaut on the Right.

But what the two political sides needed was a really big name, with  greater clout than any of these guys.

And in walks Deepika Padukone into the JNU campus giving a namaste to the university’s injured Leftist students union president.

One of the first accusations to come out against her was that she was at JNU to promote her film ‘Chhapaak’, which would go on to release in a few days.

Soon, hashtags that boycotted Deepika’s film were trending on social media.

Supporters of the ruling dispensation (read IT cell), in their desperation, bungled up quite a bit while trying to boo and boycott Deepika.

About a hundred people tweeted pictures of their cancelled ticket for ‘Chhapaak’. This fell through when many pointed out that every one of them was putting out the exact same ticket.

Some people, which included small BJP leaders and pro-RSS websites, claimed falsely that ‘Chhapaak’, which is based on a story of an acid attack survivor, had turned its real-life Muslim villain into a Hindu.

This did not work because a premier of the film had already been held by then. Its attendees said the villain in the film, in fact, was Muslim.

The trolls then claimed that the Hindu name was quickly changed back to a Muslim one to avoid getting into trouble.

And it did not help that one of the women who wanted to boycott Deepika had recently put out a phone number on her Twitter account inviting men for some sexy talk. That happened to be the phone number that Amit Shah wants you to give a missed call on to show your support for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

But why such a reaction to Deepika, who never said a word against anyone, but stood quietly on the side at JNU when others were talking?

Partly because the ruling party has come to the conclusion that it’s not enough that the CAA is a law, they also need people’s post-facto support.

And what better way to reach out to the masses than mass actors? Which is also why the government had earlier called together a group of artistes to dine with Union Minister Piyush Goyal and to chat about CAA.

The big guns, however, skipped the dinner, and those who turned up did not have the sort of clout that the government would most probably have liked. Some of them looked badly in need of a free meal.

Now, it’s a question of who from Bollywood will come forward next and which side they will take.

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