Over the last few days, India has been divided by protests over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the attack on students in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The film industry was not left untouched and a number of actors including Swara Bhaskar, Sonam Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu and Richa Chaddha have been vocal about what’s going on. The issue especially got heated after Deepika Padukone landed in JNU to lend her support.
One of the foremost voices against the government from the film industry is that of Anurag Kashyap. And his activism hasn’t gone down well with other members of the industry, notably director Priyadarshan who has, in the past, made hits like Hera Pheri, Garam Masala, Hungama etc.
Priyadarshan is a supporter of the government. “What have film people got to do with political issues? Do they even understand the nitty-gritty? How much did Deepika Padukone study the situation at JNU before visiting ?” asks the director who was once supposed to launch Deepika in a film called Pirates about musical piracy. Deepika eventually made her debut with Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Om and is now one of the biggest stars of Bollywood.
Priyadarshan’s advice to film folks? “Use cinema to express what you want to. Make films that will reflect the country’s political reality. Do not jump into the prevalent practice of criticizing Narendra Modi and Amit Shah just to get written about. It’s sad but all one has to do to hit the headlines is to hit out at these two.”
Priyadarshan feels the trend of lashing out at PM Modi and his most trusted aide is no more than an attention-getting device. And according to him, there is no one more prone to this habit than Anurag Kashyap. He asks angrily, “What does he get by making it a habit to lash out at the Prime Minister? He has one of the world’s most powerful medium to change the country’s mindset. Instead of expressing his criticism through cinema of what he sees as the wrongdoings of the Governments, he uses social media to get noticed. And the cinema he makes, many think they are realistic. But according to me they are nothing but excuses for sex and violence.”
The angry filmmaker feels film folks should express their opinion, political or otherwise, only through cinema. “I think people like Anurag Kashyap should just shut their mouth. Of course it is everyone’s fundamental right to protest. But just lashing out at the PM Modi and Amit Shah is not constructive criticism but a misuse of the freedom of expression that democracy offers us.”