Why Can’t We Treat Deepika Padukone’s Action As A Human Reaction And Not Read Meanings Into It?
Ali Peter John
Think of a situation like this. Deepika Padukone is not the celebrity and the number one actress of Hindi films and also the highest paid star. She is just another 34 year old educated, sensible and socially and even politically aware young woman of the country who wants to see all Indians, especailly women live a dignified life with a place of their own in a society and a country where women have still to fight for their place as equals among men. She is in Mumbai and is extemely busy with her work schedule as she is working on one of her most ambitious project. She knows that the country and especailly the youth in different universities are in a state of continuous turmoil and are finding all kinds of ways to voice their protests against the CAA , the CAB and NRC. And what drives her mad like every thinking person in the country is the bitter truth about young men with masks on their faces and rods and latties in their strong(?)hands rampage the JNU campus and ruthlessly beating up students, both boys and girls and breaking new records in violence by breaking the skull of a girl called Aishee Ghosh who is the President of the JNU Union of which Dr. Kanhaiya Kumar was the President some time ago.
Deepika questions her own conscience and her duty towards the students who she feels are made victims of hooddoms and goondas who clearly are working to fulfill the agenda of some interested parties with malignant motives. Deepika, the simple human being and duty-conscious Indian doesn’t think of what the consequences could be or would be for her and takes the first flight to Delhi and reaches the JNU campus and joins the protest which is being addressed by the “hero” of the JNU, who is now a national hero who is fast gaining recognition in different parts of the world, Dr. Kanhaiya Kumar is addressing the protesters and singing the azaadi anthem full-throat with the protesters joining him whole heartedly.
Deepika plays down her celebrity status and almost looks like one of the protesters and joins Dr. Kanhaiya Kumar in the front row and without making any noise about her being there as Deepika, the number one star of Hindi films, walks up to the badly injured Aishee Ghosh and makes all the right gestures to show that she is there only to see her and to express her solidarity with the injured students. She doesn’t say a single word. She doesn’t issue any kind of statement for or against any side or ideology. She could have used the occasion to promote the release of her film which was just three days away, but she seems to know the solemnity and the seriousness of the situation and quietly leaves the venue. She knows that there are people who are going to bay for her blood and lead all kinds of meanings into her spontaneous action, but the look on her face and in her eyes say that she had done what her heart has commanded her to do and she also knows that she is now ready and willing to face the results of what she had decided to do…
And what those expected to happen, happened a very next morning. There were hundreds of people who were waiting and willing to take advantages of the situation that had so easily fallen into their hungry hands. They were calling for a banning and a boycott of her film “Chhapaak ” which was due for release on January 10. There were two different classes in the industry itself one which sided with Deepika, saw the film at a private show organised by Deepika and who praised the film for the bold subject it tackled (the story of an acid attack survivor) and the stark real performance of the same Deepika who was also fascinating in Bajirao Mastani and Padmavat. There was the other side in the industry which has always been with the two men and their bhakts who were willing to suspend all their senses to please their mighty mai-baaps and so damned Deepika for no palpable reason.
Thank God, “Chhapaak ” was released without any major hurdles and without any attempts to harm the film or to harm Deepika or the makers of the film, which includes Deepika who was brave enough to make her debut as a producer with a risky film like “Chhapaak”. And thank the learned critics for not being carried away by all that is happening to Deepika and around the film, the critics who treated the film with the respect it rightfully deserved.
And above all, thanks to all those brave people who fought against all odds and fears and walked into theatres and multiplexes to watch the film. They showed how freedom of expression and the freedom to watch what they felt was meaningful entertainment was still a guarantee no power and no groups of bhakts or andhbhakts could take away from them.
I don’t know whether Deepika has found her sleep back or whether she has been able to crush all the demons of fear within her, but I hope and pray that she does, because it is the Deepika’s who are the hope of this country which is walking through a storm waiting to errupt at every step.
It is a good thing to know that “Chhapaak” has been granted tax exemption by at least three Congress ruled State Governments , but why bring politics into art and culture which includes cinema? Couldn’t all this dirty tamasha be nippled in the bud at a JNU campus itself? Think about it, think because the future will depend on how you think today.
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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Deepika Padukone