One fine evening on January 7 2020, Deepika Padukone gave her lifetime performance. Sorry, if I got you wrong. I didn’t mean her different shades of bold performances in movies. However, this time she got away from the screen to ace her performance as a citizen. A bold and a mere citizen. A citizen with ‘Opinion’, political views of her own and who silently or not so silently raised her voice on the on-going happenings. Was it a big crime or a promotional stunt? Or was there some hidden political endorsement too?
Deepika Padukone who was in Delhi for the promotion of her latest movie ‘Chhapaak’, stopped by Sabarmati-T-point in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where JNU students union and teachers were gathered in the light of the latest events. On January 5, a mob of masked men entered the campus with sticks, iron rods, stones and turned the campus into a war field. Properties were damaged; stones pelted and 34 students were injured. This barbaric event had ignited active protests all over. The people behind the mask, the puppeteer behind them are still behind the veil, and the case is under investigation. However, this has created a whirlpool of strong, opinionated protest.
Amid these protests, several eyes were turned to Bollywood actors to know there stand. However, for a change, B-town decided to be the audience this time. Some took to Twitter to tweet emojis regarding the event while most of them chose to relive the movie ‘The quiet place’. Many Bollywood A-listers were called out to know their views. ‘The Kapoors’ and ‘The Khans’ were asked to put out their opinions.
But no one expected the surprise arrival of Deepika Padukone, a Bollywood A-listed actress, who stood in solidarity and spoke with JNUSU president, Aishe Gosh who was brutally beaten up. She stood by the JNUSU student president and remained silent. Her silence spoke a lot though and quaked social media. Her appearance in JNU made box office tweets with half of them supporting her while the other half back lashing her. ‘#IstandwithDeepika’, ‘#IsupportDeepika’, ‘#Chhapaak’ were few positive trending hashtags while ‘#BoycottDeepikaPadukone’, ‘#BoycottChhapaak’ were the negative hurls thrown at her. She was accused of being ‘anti-national’, ‘Pakistani’ and ‘Naxalite’.
Union Minister Smriti Irani accused her of standing next to people who said ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge’. However, celebrities like Anurag Kashyap, Bhumi Pandekar, and Sonakshi Sinha lauded her. Some BJP supporters took a hit on her recent movie ‘Chaapak’ by booking and cancelling movie tickets. Her silence did break social media to some extent.
So Deepika Padukone with her action-packed guest appearance spoke volumes. Firstly, she proved that more than an actress, she is the citizen of India too, who is entitled to stand on her choices and opinions. Being apolitical is more dangerous than being a bigot. She had held on her political views on what she thought was right. She also broke gender stereotypes. While everyone was expecting all the big gun actors, no one expected A-listed Bollywood actress to take a side on a political issue. She did prove that she does not need any hero in her movie as well as her life. She risked in being into controversies just before her release date, which makes it a bit difficult to think that it is a promotion stunt.
Whether it is a promotion stunt or not, an actress with millions of followers made a statement and influenced to be in your stand and not to be apolitical. Previously, she had openly talked about her battle with depression and helped to smudge the mental stigma, and now she voiced out her views on the on-set issues, though silently. She surely is not a person to shy away from expressing her views. In a time where celebrities are being backlashed for being silent or for speaking out their opinion, she chose to express her view.
So if boycotting Deepika for expressing her stance on a political issue is the solution, then why not boycott half of the citizens who have varied views, Democracy would be much better that way right?