Why are biggest names in movies silent on protests?

In light of recent events, many celebrities have spoken up about the protests, while some refrained from speaking, possibly wary of the trouble any opinion can get them into. They have been criticised from various quarters from doing both

The protests happening across the country over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) are perhaps the most resounding since the Narendra Modi government came to power five and a half years ago.

In light of recent events, many celebrities have spoken up about the protests, while some refrained from speaking, possibly wary of the trouble any opinion can get them into. Those who dared to speak have been attacked on social media from various quarters.

The hashtag ‘#ShameonBollywood’ has been trending on social media, being used by people across the political spectrum.

The most talked-about response from Bollywood comes from Akshay Kumar, who has been called a Modi stooge in the past.

He apologised for ‘liking’ a post on Twitter that attacked protesting students at the Jamia Millia Islamia, who were brutalised after holding peaceful protests.

Akshay has since been likened multiple times to Hindutva icon V D Savarkar, whom critics make fun of for the multiple apologies he gave to the British after capture. Memes have been made from screenshots of Akshay’s movies and posted in response to his tweets. One such tweet reads, “Cut Rs 50 for his overacting”.

The actor’s Canadian citizenship has also come up for discussion in the comment section to the post.

One prominent response came from director Anurag Kashyap, who plugged back into his previously deactivated Twitter account after the CAA protests started.

He retweeted a post that said “I have immense respect for Akshay Kumar. It must be extremely difficult to be trained in Martial Arts with a spine missing”.

Journalist Aatish Taseer, who earlier this year had written a piece in Time calling Modi India’s ‘Divider-in-chief’ and lost his Overseas Citizenship of India in November, called out Shah Rukh Khan out for not responding to the crisis happening in Jamia, his alma mater.

Khan is not alone in this. Big names such as Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Hrithik Roshan have not responded so far.

Anubhav Sinha, one of Bollywood’s most active voices on CAA, ironically retweeted a 2012 post by Bachchan where he decries peaceful protests being met with violence, saying, “So happy Sir spoke”.

‘Tashkent files’ director Vivek Agnihotri, an admirer of the BJP dispensation, said, asking Bollywood to comment on issues is futile because whatever is put out is checked and approved by their PRs.

Bollywood has seen some outspoken voices over the last few days too.

Swara Bhasker, a frequent critic of Modi and the BJP, has proactively been supporting student voices and slamming the government.

Parineeti Chopra said, “If this is what’s gonna happen every time a citizen expresses their view, forget #CAB, we should pass a bill and not call our country a democracy anymore! Beating up innocent human beings for speaking their mind? BARBARIC.”

In a strongly worded tweet, actor Huma Qureshi said about the CAA: “This is called laying the ground for ethnic cleansing. That’s what it is. College kids can see it. Free World Press can see it. But you deny it... Punish the arsonists but you cannot stifle the voice of dissent. Humare desh ko azaadi tum bigots se chahiye. Jai Hind”

Bollywood actors such as Ayushmann Khuranna, who tried to strike a middle ground, were trolled for playing it safe. Many Twitter users also trolled celebrities for excessively sympathising with the one bus that was burnt.

Posts comparing the Modi government to the Third Reich have appeared in many places on Twitter. Huma too shared the sentiment when she posted, “This is not a democratic process. This is an attack on fundamentals of India. An attempt to make India like Nazi Germany.”

Actors Vicky Kaushal, Sidharth Malhotra, Parvathy Thiruvothu and Siddharth have also come out in support of students.

Malayalam star Prithviraj Sukumaran dubbed the student protests “a revolution”.

Some noted the irony of the Rajinikanth-starrer ‘Darbar’s’ trailer dropping on Monday, where the Tamil star plays a bad boy cop. 

Kannada stars have stayed away from making any comments on the issue. While actors such as Kichcha Sudeep, Darshan and Rakshit Shetty have been active on Twitter promoting their upcoming films, no statements have been made on the issue.

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