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Sunday Chronicle headliners 19 Jan 2020 Why Big B and the li ...

Why Big B and the likes remain silent

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SUBHASH K JHA
Published Jan 19, 2020, 6:17 am IST
Updated Jan 19, 2020, 6:17 am IST
Some celebrities have to exercise restraint as they have a lot to lose.
Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan have kept mum on the CAA issue and the attack on JNU students.
 Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan have kept mum on the CAA issue and the attack on JNU students.

Picture this. Rajinikanth and Anil Kapoor are out on the public domain to promote their latest movies. Rajinikanth is asked about the CAA bill. He rightly deflects the question.

Why are Indian celebrities expected to speak up on political issues? They have a right to remain silent, right?

 

Why is that right being snatched away from them? Lately there has been a lot happening in the country that is not right or even remotely acceptable as civilized behaviour. Some Bollywood celebrities have come out in support of the student agitation at JNU and against the Citizens Amendment Act. But why troll and heckle those who choose a discreet silence. If Amitabh Bachchan is not speaking is he being spineless? The burden of telling the truth in political matters is heavy. Protest is not the prerogative of those in the limelight, but those in power. One wrong line, and you are sailing through choppy waters. It has happened to Aamir Khan when he happened to blurt out that his children are unsafe in India.

Be honest. Which parent has not had similar thoughts? This is a country where six-month old babies get raped. And if someone says he/ she is frightened for his child’s well-being, I am not being anti-national. I am being realistic. Why can’t Aamir and Shah Rukh worry about their children while Salman Khan throws his all into Dabangg 6?

Changing Times
This is a luxury Mr Bachchan cannot afford. In this country the higher you go the less your liberty to speak your mind. Think of the number of ways any political statement either way, Right or Left, can damage him. Three decades ago, Shabana Azmi spoke out against the murder of theatre activist Safdar  Hazmi at a film festival in Delhi. There was no backlash and no one called her anti-national. If she were to do the same today, the ramifications could be hugely damaging, considering she is over 70 now. Mr Bachchan is 77 and in frail health. Acts of political bravado would serve no purpose except to get the Twitter users all worked up with joy. Too many celebrities are living their lives as per the definitions and dictates on Twitter. Please spare Mr Bachchan the righteous indignation of a generation that acts according to how good their pictures would look on Instagram. Don’t expect him to criticize the government. Don’t misconstrue his silence. Not being able to speak against oppression is not always an indi cation of acquiescence.

Not everyone’ image and aspirations is dictated by how far you can go on social media without facing a jail sentence. Some celebrities have to exercise more restraint than Anurag Kashyap. They have more to lose.

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