The outrage against Rashmika is unnecessary

Her confession that Kannada is difficult has been misrepresented to mean that she disrespects it

Rashmika Mandanna

Over the last week, a section of Kannada cinema fans have expressed outrage at something petty.

We are half way through 2019 and there have not been more than three quality films from Sandalwood. But the fans aren't bothered about that.

Neither are they upset with their favourite stars' repeated blunders in choosing scripts. Instead, they are out to evict an actress from the industry for reasons that appear silly.

Rashmika Mandanna has suffered a great fall from being 'Karnataka's crush' to Sandalwood’s villain.

No, Rashmika's short career hasn't seen flop films for people to dismiss her. It's her break-up with Rakshit Shetty, one of Kannada cinema's beloved stars, and her so-called 'shift in allegiance' is what has angered the fans.

On the day the Telugu flick Dear Comrade released, a group of activists protested outside many single-screen theatres of the city. The group demanded that films starring Rashmika shouldn't be screened in Karnataka.

It claimed that Rashmika had hurt the sentiments of Kannadigas by saying in a video that she "doesn't like speaking in Kannada". The actress was brutally insulted on various social media platforms.

In this day and age, where television and online channels change the script to get the required TRP and clicks, Rashmika's issue isn't surprising.

In the YouTube video, Rashmika, speaking to a Tamil anchor, tells how difficult it is for her to dub in all four South Indian languages. The surprised anchor asks if it's tough for her to dub even in Kannada, to which the actor says yes.

Rashmika, like many in the current generation, is comfortable thinking and conversing in English.

And for someone who is just 23, her responses are quite sensible. At public events, she makes sure she speaks the language of that particular channel and state.

But in this case, her confession that Kannada is "difficult" for her has been conveniently twisted to give an impression that she "dislikes" and "disrespects" the language.

There is no denying the fact that the Kannada hit Kirik Party (2016) gave Rashmika the perfect start.

But it's disappointing to see fans accusing her of treachery only because she decided to act in films from other languages.

For an artiste, the art and not a language should be the first priority. If success lies in exploring, then who are we to hold back these artistes?

It is clear from her statements that she isn't being partial to any particular industry.

In fact, her next big release, Pogara, is a Kannada flick. It's good to see an actress speak unflinchingly about her remuneration. The Tamil and Telugu industries have shown that they are willing to offer her what she demands.

She is not after just the money, she has a keen eye for strong characters too. While she is a state-level cricketer in Dear Comrade, she was seen as an inspector in a Telugu film Devadas last year.

Whereas in the three Kannada films after Kirik Party — Chamak, Anajaniputra and Yajamana — Rashmika plays the typical love-interest of the protagonist.

Rashmika's popularity, right after her split with Rakshit, was a tough pill to swallow for the fans of the actors. Their revolting nature is also an example of how a woman's success is judged in society.

The media has also contributed to this mess.

Rakshit, in his rare appearances in front of the media, has hardly been quizzed on the break-up. On the other hand, Rashmika is always bombarded with questions on the failed relationship.

It is about time that we journalists show more curiosity towards a person's skills than his or her personal life. These two actors aren't at fault for choosing to move on.

The issue also raises the question of tolerance. Rashmika, during press conferences, is animated, laughs a lot and is even restless. But she never offers lazy answers. However, some intolerant people have dubbed her arrogant for just being herself.

The world of cinema, with harsh competition, high-stress work atmosphere, and sometimes hostile people, is a tough place to be. No artiste is invincible.

Actors need support and quality feedback. Hate messages and discouragement can kill an actor's journey. Cinema needs quality critiquing and discussions. Chest-thumping followers can never understand the beauty of art.

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