To speak up or keep mum. Can Bollywood express its views?

While actors in the southern film industry express their political opinion unapologetically, Bollywood chooses to keep quiet.

bollywood Updated: Mar 06, 2017 18:36 IST
Yashika Mathur
Yashika Mathur
Hindustan Times
Kamal Haasan,Onir,Swara Bhaskar
Actor Kamal Haasan at the audio launch of upcoming multilingual film Uttama Villian. (IANS)

New Delhi

In the wake of the battle at the political front in Tamil Nadu, actors such as Kamal Haasan and R Madhavan have not shied away from commenting on the debate doing rounds over chief Minister’s position in Tamil Nadu . This has got many thinking why Bollywood doesn’t take a stand when it comes to politics.

Haasan publically supported Panneerselvam for the Chief Minister’s seat instead of Sasikala. In an interview, he said, “Time of dice playing was done with in Mahabharat. We can’t be playing dice and hawking our family wives and lives, in favour of some numbers [Sasikala’s MLA support]. We don’t trade. We are the people. I have reservations about both of them [Panneerselvam and Sasikala]. But right now this guy has proven his mettle and is OK, and we’ll throw him out of his office if we feel he is incompetent again. That’s the will of people.”

Haasan, even urged actor R.Madhavan to take a stand, which made the latter tweet his opinion.

So, why do the celebrities hold themselves back and not speak their mind on such issues.

“Bollywood actors are attacked by lynch mobs every time they share something, whether personal or political. They aren’t defended by the press or the establishment. Every time an international actor takes a stand, we compare Indian counterparts with them like in the case of Meryl Streep and Shah Rukh Khan. My recommendation is that we expect our leaders to be role models instead of fragile, vane actors like myself,” says actor Richa Chadha.

In director Onir’s opinion, the artists do not feel protected in Bollywood to express their opinions on political matter.

“What happens in Bollywood is that there is this constant threat. We have had actors commenting on social and political issue and immediately there is a backlash on their work by some political parties, which stat issuing threats and coming in front of their house and protesting,” says the filmmaker.

He adds, “Where is the support? It is something which is noticeable and be it a Shah Rukh Khan or a Salman Khan, they have made political comments and it backfired, which is unfair.”

Actor Swara Bhaskar has often voiced her opinion on social issues but ended up in a bitten argument with online trolls.

“I don’t think it’s a North-South thing. Bollywood actors have also in the past endorsed and campaigned for political parties and politicians. I think in India as a whole the problem is that artists are allowed to endorse populist views and the dominant view of the majority but the moment an artist takes a dissenting view or has an opinion that is critical of the populist notion of the time, they face major backlash from twitter trolling to vandalism to losing endorsements. Is there any surprise that artists don’t want to expose themselves to such harm for merely having an opinion? We shouldn’t expect our artists to be political and politically opinionated if we cannot even guarantee their physical safety in this country,” she says.

First Published: Feb 16, 2017 21:03 IST