Culture

This is why Bollywood rarely comments on social issues

If you're wondering why we can’t have our own Meryl Streep moment

  • Meryl Streep solidified her status as the ‘Universe’s favourite person’ after her speech at the Golden Globes this year. She recognized the power and reach of the platform she was on and decided to address USA’s president-elect Donald Trump — without once taking his name — but highlighting the threat that awaits media and foreigners under his term. Now unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have known the impact her speech had across the world. And if you have been living under a rock, we have several follow-up questions, first being: How?

    Meryl’s dignified refusal to tolerate Trump’s bullying was met with several people expressing their bitterness over the lack of such responses from our Bollywood celebrities. 

    But hold on a second.

    After Meryl spoke out about Donald Trump making fun of a disabled reporter, she was rewarded with a wave of support both on social media and in traditional press. When Aamir Khan expressed similar concerns in the face of growing intolerance in India, he was branded ‘Pakistani’ and criticised for his ‘anti-national’ views.

    Whether you agree with Aamir's comments or not, you can't deny the general lack of ‘safe space’ in India for celebrities to take a stand on issues without having blanket bans imposed on their movies, being kicked off advertising deals and having their effigies burnt across the country.

    We’ve rounded up (in the gallery above) the celebrities who actually tried taking a stand against the various issues plaguing the country as a quick reminder of why they hesitate to do so.

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  • Shah Rukh Khan

    When Shah Rukh Khan was asked to comment on the growing trend of hate crimes in India, especially over religious issues, he responded, “It is stupid… It is stupid to be intolerant and this is our biggest issue, not just an issue… Religious intolerance and not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot.” The NDTV interview went viral and caused more stir than it warranted.

    A call to boycott his subsequent movies was issued, with political parties threatening to destroy any multiplex that would screen them. Ultimately, Khan had to apologize for his comments.

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  • Aamir Khan

    Aamir Khan is known as one of the few Bollywood celebrities who uses his clout to create awareness for socio-political issues. But when he confessed that his wife once thought about relocating to another country after seeing religious intolerance grow day by day, he was predictably called every synonym of ‘anti-national’ and had news channels devote airtime to conduct detailed analysis of his remarks. Even actor Anupam Kher couldn't resist shouting his opinion at any mic that would broadcast it.

    In the recently released I am a Troll, written by a former BJP volunteer, it was revealed that Snapdeal was forced to drop the actor as brand ambassador after party members allegedly instructed their social media cell to put pressure on the brand.

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  • Sonam Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha

    When Sonam Kapoor tweeted against the meat ban in Maharashtra, people reminded her that she was being paid to look hot and not actually have opinions. The same people were outraged when Sonakshi Sinha didn’t learn from Sonam’s mistakes and decided to tweet her opinion too. The responses ranged from calling them bimbos to other colourful suggestions as to what they could do with their anti-government mindset.

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  • Neha Dhupia

    Neha Dhupia learned the hard way the repercussions of criticizing PM Modi when she tweeted her displeasure at the state of Mumbai roads during the heavy monsoon.

    A lot of people decided to take this opportunity to remind her that since she is an actor who has made some bad choices in her career, she has no right to speak against the government or have an opinion for that matter. 

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  • Rishi Kapoor

    If you remember the Salman Khan drunken driving case — in which 1 person was killed and four injured after the actor's car drove onto a footpath — you'll remember singer Abhijeet’s callous suggestion that the fault lay with the victims. Not Salman Khan who (did not) run over them. Rishi Kapoor, of course, couldn't help but point out the serious logical jumps made by Abhijeet. Predictably, he was forced to retire from Twitter after hate came pouring in from the Devoted Fans of Salman Bhai.

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  • Om Puri

    You’d think that a TV panel discussion over a hot topic would invite different views and opinions. But when the hot topic is related to the government or Indian military, the only opinion can be condemning Pakistanis and expressing frantic patriotism by vocal appreciation of all that our soldiers are doing for us. When late actor Om Puri appeared on TV to discuss the ban imposed on Pakistani artistes in India following the Uri attacks, he spoke in support of the artistes.

    The vitriol unleashed on him by the anchor and the panelists alike surprised no one, but what was surprising was Om's response. He angrily retorted that he did not ask anyone to join the army, caused a tsunami of internet hate to unleash itself on the actor.

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