Actresses Stand Up For Bollywood In Crisis, Where Are Our Male Superstars?
Having followed the Hindi film industry closely ever since I was a kid, I cannot think of any other time Bollywood was at the receiving end of so much hatred. Yes, there were controversies around casting couch, petty catfights blown out of proportion by gossip magazines that divided the fan base or occasional film like Padmaavat, that riled up a specific community or political group to the extent of a hefty prize being placed on the head of its lead female actor. Even the #MeToo Movement did not generate an outrage that lasted for months and to this extent. Curiously in its toughest phase in many years, it is the women actors who standing up to defend the industry. Where are all our male superstars?
It seems as if the men – Khans, Kapoors and whatnots of the industry are simply bidding their time, waiting for the issue to blow over so that they can sneak in a mega-blockbuster release
The death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput unravelled rage on social media, that keeps hitting back at Bollywood in waves. The outrage began with allegations of nepotism and favouritism in the industry. Producers like Karan Johar and actors such as Alia Bhat and Ananya Panday were at the receiving end of this backlash. Right now we are hovering over the debate around drug abuse in the industry and it has found its way into the Indian parliament.
Be it on social media, news channels or even the Lok Sabha, it is women actors who are fighting for Bollywood tooth and nail. Actors like Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhaskar, Konkona Sen-Sharma and Richa Chaddha have been quite vocal in questioning the cost at which everyone seems to be demanding justice of Rajput, and whether it is fair to put people from the industry on trial without any proof. In Lok Sabha, MP and former actor Jaya Bachchan gave a rousing piece calling out people from the industry who had turned on it. She was backed by MP from another party, and veteran actor Hema Malini. Read more about it here. Even when actor Rhea Chakraborty was put on trial by media in relation to Rajput’s death, actors like Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor stood up for her and questioned the treatment being meted out to her.
These women have proved that they are more than just larger than life cutouts placed outside of a cinema hall.
In her own twisted way, Kangana Ranaut is also speaking for a certain section of the industry, which she alleges is otherised by the privileged insiders of the industry. Is her stand relevant, or does it just add more fuel to the fire, is open for discussion. But one cannot ignore the fact that Ranaut has taken a firm stand for what she believes to be right. Again, where do the reigning male superstars of Bollywood stand? Why have they neither condemned nepotism openly or flaunted their love for the industry?
It seems as if the Khans, Kapoors and whatnots of the industry are simply bidding their time, waiting for the issue to blow over so that they can sneak in a mega-blockbuster release. What’s the point of getting into an unnecessary controversy, when you can clearly get away with a superhit film, that the audience will watch anyways. We pay attention to those who speak for and against an issue, do we pay much attention to those who don’t speak up at all?
I know it is unfair to force out a comment from any person, especially in a hostile place such as social media, against their will. But since women actors have indeed spoken up, and braved the backlash coming their way, it become imperative that we applaud them. These women have proved that they are more than just larger than life cutouts placed outside of a cinema hall. They have guts, they have the courage to speak up and the will to participate in a debate, something that makes them human, and thus more relatable.
If only social media and audience could keep all this in mind, once our theatres open up again.
The views expressed are the authors own.