WHERE IS OUR VOICE? WHY ARE WE CONDEMNED FOR SPEAKING UP
By Anil Nagrath
Idon’t know what is the reason why people belonging to the film and entertainment industry, are always considered less intelligent and are not supposed to have their opinion on anything in the surrounding circumstances. We have seen on umpteen occasions that film industry is always an easy target for various groups which become hyperactive every time an actor expresses his opinion about events taking place. In today’s date and time, everybody in the country is discussing the current situation and political problems cursing each other shamelessly on various forums on television shows which are beamed to billions of people.
In these circumstances, expecting a film star or maker not to have his own views and the liberty of expressing his views in public without any fear, is expecting too much. In a democracy, everybody has the right to speak about what he considers correct and I was shocked beyond belief at the totally uncalled for outrage that was triggered by Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan’s comments on intolerance. Whatever Shah Rukh Khan or Aamir Khan may have said and whether it was correct or wrong, it was their opinion and they were totally within their rights to express their opinion. Unfortunately the aftermath of the statements was bizarre as instead of taking the artists on, in a debate to find out who is right, what was done was that instructions were issued in various communities, not to see their films. This ultimately had an effect on their films’ collections as the naysayers did have an advantage in creating a fear psychosis which made people avoid flocking to the theatres. This was not only restricted to the Khans, as even in the case of Bajirao Mastani, a hue and cry was raised and Hindus were ordered not to see the film which order fell on deaf ears as everybody wanted to see a good film and Bajirao Mastani turned out to be a super-hit. This may not have been the case if the hero or heroine of the film, had given any politically relevant comment. This would have enraged the politically powerful people with their so-called senas who literally badger people into eating their words and regret expressing their opinion.
This thought is more relevant than ever today when Rishi Kapoor, one of my friends, co-actor and a star, whose fan I have been since his debut in Mera Naam Joker and have had the pleasure of acting with him in various films. I have found him to be most intelligent, ahead of his time and most entertaining person to meet, besides being a perfect gentleman, who has once again openly come out with a statement against the Gandhi dynasty. He has always been outspoken about various issues and the last time a furore was created was when he issued a statement against the beef ban. This statement has proved to be totally correct as indeed farmers are dying because their livestock has no value and they have no money to feed the cattle, which earlier used to be their sustenance in times of need.
Rishi Kapoor faced a lot of heat on this issue but to his credit, till date his belief continues to be the same as he speaks the truth and when you do that, you don’t need to think of the consequences. Rishi Kapoor has once again stirred the hornet’s nest by speaking out against the fact that hundreds of buildings, memorials, awards etc are exclusively in the name of the Nehru-Gandhi family and shockingly, the National Park of Mumbai, is called Sanjay Gandhi National Park even though Sanjay Gandhi had no political contribution besides the emergency excesses and Maruti. So what was the need of naming such a great national park in the name of Sanjay Gandhi plus all the various schemes and trusts etc with the Gandhi name? This is a question which should have been asked by the political class, who are aware of what is going on but are silent spectators in a conspiracy of silence. It is this tolerance of each other’s excesses, which has led to things going beyond control like just the other day, I was thinking how much prime property is blocked in Delhi by the various memorials to members of this family. Their houses, offices and even funeral sites, have been converted into national tourist attractions, which are empty most of the times as the citizens of this country, have lost all interest in the so-called icons as the aftermath of their activities is what we are facing today.
In these circumstances, it is not surprising that Rishi Kapoor questioned the logic and reasoning behind this boot-licking of a particular family by those who owe their political existence to them. The aftermath of Rishi Kapoor’s tweets, was a large gathering outside his house by the Congress party, which on camera abused him and threatened him and stated that they will not allow release of his films and let him live in peace, unless he withdraws and apologizes for the tweets about the Gandhis. I was shocked by this because I was so far aware of this being the tactics being used by Shiv Sena and MNS and to see a defunct, out of breath Congress, take such a stand of dadagiri, made me realise that in Rome, you actually do what the Romans do and when rowdism is the way out of every situation, then God save this country because hundred people can get together any time and do whatever they want.
What is the meaning of a democracy where one has to always wonder as to what he should say about a particular situation because by its definition, democracy lies in dissention and differences and it is not necessary for everybody to have the same view. Why is it that just because I am a part of the film industry, everything that I say has to be treated with disdain? At every opportunity, why every political leader and spokespersons on various news debates, are always at a loss to show people from the film industry, as someone less intelligent whose opinion really does not matter as they are part of a glamorous industry which cannot have its own opinion. Everyone else is allowed to say what they want but only we are forced to be quiet and not be vocal against what is wrong because we know that rather than action being taken, the entire situation will be turned on its head and we will be forced to compromise or apologize. This is because we live a transparent life where we have daily interaction with people and in the case of stars, if they are banned by the so-called Senas, they are hardly in a position to fight back because there is too much money at stake in their films and hence it is good to remain neutral rather than be open and rebellious.
In this atmosphere, hats off to you Chintu-ji for having the courage of your convictions and speaking out against an injustice which has been perpetuated on this nation by sycophants just to please their leaders! I agree that it is time that this nonsense comes to an end and we stop wasting public money on maintaining and running such institutions when the land involved can be used for much better work and moreover in a democracy like ours, such sycophancy has no place.