EXCEPTIONS: In contrast to the big stars many like Priyanka Chopra, Sunny Deol, Sonu Sood have supported the farmers protest.

By Ali Peter John

Bollywood stars are afraid of antagonizing the Modi government. This is why top stars such as Akshay Kumar and Karan Johar have extended support to the Modi government stand that the International support to the farmers strike, is an attempt to spoil the image of India. None of the Khans SRK, Salman and Amir have commented on the issue, while Lata Mangeshkar has openly supported the Modi government stand…

Seasoned and much loved film columnist ALI PETER JOHN says at one time the film stars of Hindi cinema had a political conscience….where has it gone?
THOSE were other times when we had brave and bold stars like Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar , Raj Kapoor , Balraj Sahni and Nargis, and writers and poets like K A Abbas and Sahir Ludhianvi who didn’t think twice before taking on the government, whenever it went wrong and took up issues that were crucial to the people of the country.
Dev Anand was known as the voice of the opposition and had his own views on every subject which he gave a voice to whenever he had the opportunity. His views were respected by both the government in power and the Opposition, by intellectuals and journalists. He ended up forming the National Party of which he was the president. The day he launched his party and the kind of crowd that had gathered at the Shivaji Park in Bombay, sent shock waves all over the country! Dev had great ideas for the party which was basically formed to save democracy even in those early years. But the enthusiasm with which the party had started slowly died down and Dev was a disillusioned man and even bitter.


DILIP Kumar was basically a Congressman at heart and a follower of the Nehru school of politics, but when it came to the interests of the country Dilip sahib joined hands and lent his voice to all right-thinking political parties and their leaders.
Raj Kapoor was in a class of his own and had no political ambitions, but he could always raise his voice for a cause. I have been witness to how he has ruthlessly torn apart by some very powerful leaders.
Balraj Sahni was a leftist, who like all other leftists and progressives spoke up for the downtrodden; and so was Sahir and Abbas and all the other progressive writers and poets of the time.
Nargis was a follower of Nehru and then Mrs Indira Gandhi who got her nominated to the Rajya Sabha. She once lambasted Satyajit Ray for “selling” the poverty of India to make money and win fame.
Have we found any other ok leaders with the guts and with a conscience in the last 30 years? The answer if you ask me is a big No, except for Sunil Dutt who I believe was more of a social worker and an activist than a politician.
What is going on in the industry and the country during the last one year needed leaders who would come from within the industry to fight for their own cause and for the other needs of the country.
The film industry or Bollywood as it is shamelessly called has been facing the most harrowing time ever since one actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, was found hanging in his bedroom. His death led to the opening of a can of worms and nothing or no one dared to stop the damage that was being done to the industry in the name of nepotism, and then the scourge of the industry was being cursed as a place where seemingly everyone was high on drugs. Big names were being dragged down to a hell created by political and other vested interests. The industry finally got out of the dirty mess it was getting into mainly because of certain TV channels and some of the leading stars and production houses approached the Delhi High Court to take action against the channels and their anchors and journalists; but nothing has gone beyond the first hearing of their plea and the attacks against the industry continue.


IF THERE is one time when the industry could try and redeem itself, it is now when the farmers have been protesting for their rights for the last two months and have reached a stage, when no solution seems to have been found and life for them is only growing more and more difficult, with their internet being disconnected, their water supply and electricity being cut and barricades, large nails and thick wires being placed at all the borders where they have been protesting in killing cold and other inhuman circumstances.
The industry should have shown some signs of showing its support for these annadaata, but where are the men and women of the industry who can have a heart for the true sons of the soil?
The one star who showed some genuine concern for the farmers was the Punjabi star and singer Diljeet Dusanjh, who first took on the “enemy of the farmers” Kangana Ranaut, who has lost all direction and has been constantly supporting the government against the farmers. The next actor who was in the limelight during the protest was Deep Siddhu who has turned out to be a “traitor” and is now on the run.
It is against this sad backdrop that it is very encouraging to note that young actors like Richa Chadda, Tapsee Pannu, Sonu Sood , Divya Dutta , Mohamed Zeeshan Ayub and Neha Sharma have come out in support of the farmers. And I salute them and the farmers will be ever thankful to them.
But, for god’s sake where are all those mighty stars and filmmakers who have mostly been sons and daughters of farmers at some time or the other? Why are they so scared of saying something that will soothe the frayed nerves of the our strong farmers? Will their conscience keep sleeping as the farmers suffer, or will their conscience kick them where it hurts them the most and make them scream with their voices demanding justice for the farmers without whom they will not have their best breakfast served on their posh tables, and not have their delicious and healthy lunch and dinner, and will not be able to have their grand parties?
And what should we call the behaviour and reactions of Bharat Ratna awardees like Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Suniel Shetty to the tweets of the brave young women Rihaanaa, the pop singer, and Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old climate activist, and Meena Harris, the niece of Vice-President of America Kamala Harris? I have no locus standi to pass any judgment on such a sensitive issue. BUT I MUST CONFESS THAT I AM REALLY SCARED. SOCHO SOCHO, MERE PYARE BHAHYO, BEHNO AUR MITRO, YEHI MAUKA HAI APNE AATMAAON KO BACHAANE KA. WAQT NIKAL JAAYEGA TOH BAHUT PACHTAAOGE.

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