Only a few actors turn up for talk on CAA hosted by govt; protesters say ‘Bollywood we are watching’
Censor Board chief Prasoon Joshi, filmmakers Rahul Rawail and Kunal Kohli, music director Anu Malik, producers Ritesh Sidhwani and Bhushan Kumar, director Abhishek Kapoor, actors Ranvir Shorey and Shailesh Lodha, singers Kailash Kher, Roop Kumar Rathod and Shaan were among the Bollywood personalities who attended a special meeting with Union minister Piyush Goyal and BJP vice-president Bijayant Panda on Sunday as part of central government’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) outreach programme.
The dinner was organised at a five-star hotel in Mumbai and was an invitation-only affair. The media was barred. Sources said the event was attended by around 20 personalities from television and Hindi and Marathi film industries.
The invitation sent to these film personalities said the event was aimed to “facilitate a discussion on myths and realities pertaining to the CAA”.
Watch | Prominent Bollywood stars skip Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s CAA dinner
“As a part of outreach program, we’re reaching out to all the segments of the society to explain the history and rationale of CAA and answer any questions people may have. This was a closed door meeting. We’ve also reached out through various associations from the entertainment sector,” said Hitesh Jain, Vice President, Mumbai BJP.
Gujarati television producers and directors Jamnadas Majethia and Shailesh Lodha also attended the meeting.
“It was a good meeting. It’s great to see the government reach out to clear the air regarding the CAA,” actor Ranvir Shorey said after the meeting.
“We were told that more such meetings are being organised with people from different walks of life,” he said. “I already had no issues with the CAA and I hope more people are not misled about it affecting any Indian citizen.”
Other Bollywood personalities such as lyricist Javed Akhtar, filmmaker and actor Farhan Akhtar, filmmakers Kabir Khan, Rajkumar Santoshi and Siddharth Roy Kapur, actors Dia Mirza, Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao and Vicky Kaushal skipped the event on Sunday night.
There was heavy security outside the hotel where the event was hosted.
While the meeting continued, some protesters staged a demonstration outside the hotel premises against the amended citizenship act. They held up placards against the government and Bollywood.
“Bollywood we are watching. #MumbaiAgainstCAA,” one of the posters read. Another placard read: “Don’t disappoint yours fans. Reject CAA NPR NRC.”
The invite was reportedly sent by producer Mahaveer Jain on Friday. Jain had also reportedly organised the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last January. A selfie featuring several Bollywood stars with Modi during that meeting had got viral on social media.
An industry insider, who turned down the invite, said it was obvious because “the meeting will be about nonsense”.
The invite, however, was not extended to actor Swara Bhasker, filmmakers Anubhav Sinha and Anurag Kashyap - all of whom have been vocal about their stand against the controversial citizenship law.
There was a lot of buzz about the event on Twitter.
Protests broke out across the country after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was cleared by Parliament and signed by President Ram Nath Kovind into an Act.
According to the new law, people from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come to India till December 31, 2014, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan due to religious persecution there will be given Indian citizenship.
The protesters claim that the legislation was “unconstitutional and divisive” as it excludes Muslims.
Other Bollywood celebrities who have expressed their disappointment over the Citizenship Act are Farhan Akhtar, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Parineeti Chopra, Richa Chadha and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub.