Bollywood and politics are two fields which often go together, albeit on parallel tracks. There are many film personalities who have dabbled in politics in yesteryear and many continue to do it even today. But when it comes to making obvious political statements, Bollywood as an industry has largely remained apolitical. Not everyday do you see prominent film makers or actors comment on political issues or take sides, especially during election season. But that seems to have changed this year. As more and more people from the film world are choosing sides, one wonders, has politics managed to polarise Bollywood as well?
- The elections of 2019 have done the unthinkable- it has polarised Bollywood.
- Numerous people are openly taking sides in the current political narrative. Something we haven’t seen previously on such a large-scale.
- But is this polarisation temporary? Is it even genuine?
- Perhaps it is just a reflection of the broader political narrative which engulfs this nation today.
As more and more people from the film world are choosing sides, one wonders, has politics managed to polarise Bollywood as well?
Actors Soni Razdan and Anupam Kher go a long way back professionally and personally, having worked together in films like Saraansh. But recently when Kher, a vocal supporter of the ruling party tweeted about a letter issued by some people in the film fraternity for public to vote out the present government in the coming elections, he incurred a reaction from Razdan. The actor’s reply to Kher read, “Anupam if you can align yourself to the present Govt why would you think others doing the same is any different? Just curious.”
Anupam if you can align yourself to the present Govt why would you think others doing the same is any different ? Just curious
— Soni Razdan (@Soni_Razdan) April 7, 2019
Razadan also incurred a remark from Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel just yeasterday, over her and her daughter Alia Bhatt‘s British citizenship. Ranaut herself has not shied away from making political statements.
However, Razdan or Kher aren’t the only ones who have chosen sides this election season. There are films being made and endorsed by Bollywood personalities, which have right or left-wing agenda at the heart. Then there is this video featuring film personalities like Kalki Koechlin, Nandita Das, Swara Bhasker, Vishal Dadlani, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Tigmanshu Dhulia, etc., in which they are asking people to cast their vote to “save” the country and the constitution. The video was shared by the official twitter handle of one of the two leading political parties of the country. So while this may seem like a neutral campaign on the surface, we know which party and their agenda is being targeted here.
Bollywood has one message to the people of India: Vote karo, magar soch samajh ke. pic.twitter.com/ibnK78hArf
— Congress (@INCIndia) April 9, 2019
However, one does wonder whether this new-found political awareness is genuine at all.
However, one does wonder whether this new-found political awareness is genuine at all. Actor Naseeruddin Shah had raised quite a furor in the end of last year, when he made a statement on the Bulandshahr mob violence, sparked by the discovery of cow carcasses, which led to death of a police officer sparked. Shah said that he is worried for children in today’s India. He’s worried because he imagines a situation where his children may be surrounded by an angry mob and asked: “Are you Hindu or Muslim?”
Again, the political inclination is subtle but very clear in his statement, and yet Shah is seen in director Vivek Agnihotri’s (who is (in)famous for his support to the right-wing politics) latest film The Tashkent Files. So while on the surface it may seem that these people are at loggerheads, it won’t be a surprise they go back to their harmonious ways after the election fever subsides. Should we then question Bollywood’s credibility or sincere commitment to the political agenda they are endorsing? No.
Bollywood right now represents nothing but a more glamourous and condensed picture of the mood that grips the entire nation.
Bollywood right now represents nothing but a more glamorous and condensed picture of the mood that grips the entire nation. We are all squabbling on and off social media. We are picking arguments with both strangers and friends for the sake of politics. Would we forever hold those who do not identify with our political ideology in contempt? Will we refuse to move beyond the political dialogue which engulfs the general elections of 2019 in all our relationships? I doubt that. Work and life will go on, no matter who wins the general elections this year. We live and breathe in same space as the people who are at loggerheads with us, and we will continue to do so.
I do not see people resigning from their jobs because their colleagues endorse the political party they don’t, so why should we have any different expectations from Bollywood? At the end of the day it is an industry made of people and thus it reflects the turmoil which we the people of India are collectively going through. So this political fever will subside for Bollywood, as and when it’ll subside for the rest of the country. Business and friendships will go back to normal. Because like a trend, even political fervour is temporary and we all have a life to live outside of it.
Picture Credit: India Today
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.