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Prakash Raj: Commercials have been cancelled because of my views

In a press meet in Bengaluru, actor Prakash Raj spoke about being sidelined, taking a step in politics and more.

regional movies Updated: Nov 12, 2017 20:02 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Actor Prakash Raj,Superstar Rajinikanth,Kamal Haasan
Prakash Raj speaks about politics, actors entering the fray and more. (Arijit Sen / HT Photo)

Actor Prakash Raj has said he is worried about the ambiance of intolerance in the country and people taking the law into their own hands. The veteran actor said his commercials were being cancelled because of his views.

Asked if there was an attempt to silence actors, Raj said this is not new. “Wasn’t Shah Rukh Khan sidelined? Wasn’t Aamir Khan sidelined? Wasn’t he removed from being an ambassador? Weren’t some of his commercials stopped? My commercials are being stopped too,” he said.

However, the actor did not reveal details about the commercials as he felt the people who had invested in them would face trouble if he did so.

Reacting to the controversy over dialogues in the Tamil movie Mersal that criticised the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Raj said it was necessary to question people on facts. “But then why question him on the basis of his religion?”

Raj also weighed in on actors joining politics, asking people to not vote for them as fans. “If people from cinema only become leaders based on their popularity it is a misfortune for our country.”

Talking to reporters in Bengaluru, he further said, “For trolls, terrorism is ISIS. But any act that terrorises people is terrorism.”

Raj also spoke about the protests against the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, citing it as a worrying instance of people taking the law into their own hands.

Calling on people to respect democratic institutions, he said those who had problems with a movie must approach the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) with their concerns.

“Instead [they] go to the sets and slap the director... Two months later [they] set fire to the sets. If the Censor Board has done wrong, question it. But everybody wants to take the law into their own hands. Who is responsible for this ambiance in society? I am worried about this,” RaJ said, adding that people must not indulge in moral policing.

Raj also criticised the Supreme Court order that mandated playing the national anthem in cinema halls before every screening. “Even if it comes on TV, I will stand for it even if I’m at home. What is so special about cinema halls? You should not inject it,” he said.

The actor said he was raising his voice now because he was in a position of comfort. “It is easy for me to raise certain issues now, probably it was not easier when I was struggling,” he said.

“When your voice is heard when you can give power to those who [aren’t]... I feel it is very important [to speak out].”

The actor further said even during the Emergency under the Congress rule, dissent was silenced in order to hold on to power. “But this time, there is a prejudiced approach to every statement, there is a hunger to hold on to what they have. It is not like I will hit and you keep quiet, but it is hitting the thought process, which is dangerous,” Rai said.

He added that such a situation had come into being since the National Democratic Alliance government had come to power in 2014.

The actor said anybody who raised questions nowadays was trolled. But, he clarified, that trolling was not just done by the Hindu right wing. “Today’s trolling is done by 300-400 people who are paid to do it by the Congress, BJP, other parties, and rich people.”

He said he was repeatedly called names because he had raised questions about the ruling dispensation. He added that he also received threats from people. “I just feel pity for those who threaten me, and I feel that it is bad, but I don’t take them very seriously,” he said.

The actor said there was a shift of mood in the country and the tide was turning against the central government. “I believe there is a silent majority in this country, which given a chance, wants to correct its mistake.”

The national award winner also spoke about the recent controversy in the sate about the imposition of Hindi language. “Mother tongue is very important. We can learn another language, but don’t impose it,” he said.

Raj, who was a friend of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh said he wanted to believe in the investigation. He called for people to have trust in the Special Investigation Team. “There should be trust. Trust with such conviction that, when they mislead you, you can hold them by the collar,” he said.

The actor ruled out the possibility of joining any political party. “I do not want to become the face of any party because I will then have to answer for their past,” he said.

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First Published: Nov 12, 2017 17:52 IST