Acid test for 'Chhapaak' after Deepika's JNU act

Acid test for 'Chhapaak' after Deepika's JNU act

Making a splash

Chhapaak is Deepika’s maiden production venture.

Deepika Padukone’s one act of solidarity with the students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has divided the nation, sparked a massive Twitter war and given a political colour to her purely social drama ‘Chhapaak,’ all set for nationwide release on Friday.

Dubbing Deepika’s appearance at the JNU protest an “anti-national act” and branding her a “traitor”, the right-wing Twitter outrage pitchforked #BoycottChhapaak to the top of Thursday trends. But by evening, a political pushback had the Congress-ruled Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh governments give the movie a ‘tax-free’ boost.

The boycott call and a determined effort by many to counter it have sparked bookings and cancellations for Friday screenings in equal measure. The anticipation had its echo in Bengaluru as well.

Social media had gone berserk on Tuesday with pro- and anti-posts, almost immediately after visuals of the Bollywood star at the JNU — to express solidarity with the students who were attacked by a mob on January 5 — went viral. While #IsupportDeepika trended for a while, the counter logic came thick and fast. Her move was billed as a promotion for the film, which is inspired by acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal’s life.

But on Wednesday, the outrage took a communal turn. The issue was with Naeem Khan, the man who attacked Laxmi in 2005. The filmmaker was accused of deliberately portraying Khan as ‘Rajesh’.

Film critics and fact-check websites soon established that the allegation was false and the man was called ‘Bashir Khan’ in the movie. But by then, several television anchors and online news portals had repeated the charge, sparking another Twitter trend — #NameItLikeBollywood.

The BJP Haryana IT Cell head summed up the trend when he tweeted, “To keep the fabric of secularism intact, our Bollywood has named Nadeem ‘Rajesh’ in the film.”

Fact-check portal AltNews drew attention to Newslaundry co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri’s tweet to call out the fabrication, “Shocking (or maybe not) that such demonstrable misinformation is carried. I watched the screening last night and can tell you with certainty the religion of attacker has not changed.”

Chhapaak is Deepika’s maiden production venture. The film also stars Madhrujeet Sanghi and Vikrant Massey in critical roles. But before the screening, Chhapaak had to clear one final hurdle.

Laxmi Agarwal’s lawyer Aparna Bhat discovered that the producers had not given the acid attack victim due credit in the film. Moving the Delhi court, Bhat ensured that the credit was inserted before the Friday release.

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