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Why won’t our actors speak up like Meryl Streep?

Following Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes where she criticised Donald Trump, several took to Twitter and wondered why Indian celebs don’t do the same. Bollywood celebrities react and says they don’t get the same amount of backing from their colleagues or from those around them.

bollywood Updated: Jan 10, 2017 20:01 IST
Samarth Goyal
Samarth Goyal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Meryl Streep,Bollywood,Hollywood
Bollywood stars say unlike Meryl Streep, they don’t get support from their colleagues and fans when the speak against politicians.

Actor Meryl Streep’s speech at this year’s Golden Globe Awards was lauded by many. In her brave address, Streep slammed US President elect Donald Trump for his immigration policies, among other things. Following this, people in India have taken to social media to point out why Bollywood celebrities never speak up against politicians.

“LOLing hard at all the Bollywood people who will say WHOA RESPECT MERYL STREEP, but won’t speak up against Raj Thackeray here,” tweeted popular comedian Rohan Joshi. However, the film industry was quick to respond, and said that unlike Meryl, they don’t get the support when they speak against politicians.

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta, who too hailed Streep as a “goddess” says that filmmakers and artists don’t speak too often because of the outrage against them. “Artists from the film industry usually stay away from anything political fearing repercussions either from trolls or political outfits. This fear shows in our films and how hesitant we are in confronting societal and political demons,” he says.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt agrees. “When there was this huge uproar about banning Pakistani artists, everyone saw the kind of reaction people like me, Salman (Khan) and Om Puri got, who said that one should not think paint artists and terrorists with the same brush. We were called anti-nationals, crackpots and what not. Unlike politicians, film stars don’t have foot soldiers to protect them,” he says. But Bhatt feels that the lack of support from within the industry is also a problem. “Even those in the industry who you have worked with are used as tools to criticise you. Having said that, of course you will face some kind of a reaction if you go against the popular belief or opinion. If you are scared of being lonely, then don’t try to be ‘right.’ It’s that simple.”

The lack of support from within the industry seems to be bothering a lot of Bollywood celebs. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap took to Twitter and wrote, “We in our film industry don’t even need to give a speech like Meryl Streep if we just start standing up with those who actually speak up.” Singer-composer Vishal Dadlani’s tweet was written with a similar intent. “We have some of the biggest stars on earth and all of them have been beaten down for speaking up. Ms.Streep has freedom. We have a mirage. We say our stars don’t speak up, but then again, we CHOSE not to stand for those who were victimised for speaking their minds. So, shh!” he wrote in a series of tweets. Actor Richa Chaddha too tweeted about the same.

Popular rock band Indian Ocean’s bassist and singer Rahul Ram says India is yet to reach at the stage, where just like the US, celebrities feel safe when they say something. “ They (Hollywood) too had similar sets of problems in the 60s and 70s, when those who identified with communist thinking and they were heavily criticised. Now, they have reached a stage, where stars can criticise the government and they don’t have to be worried that the police or the mob will act against them. We are yet to reach that level,” he says.

However, filmmaker Pritish Nandy thinks that a celebrity does not have any “responsibility” to share their opinion in public. “You can’t force anyone to be vocal about politics,” he says.

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First Published: Jan 10, 2017 18:16 IST