After visuals of Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone at the JNU campus went viral, #BoycottChhapaak began to trend on Twitter. Chhapaak, which is based on acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal’s story, has Deepika in the lead and is set for release on Friday.
Though Deepika did not speak at the gathering in JNU or shout slogans, she reportedly told the JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh that she was proud of her. She was also present when former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on a CPI ticket, made his speech. Aishe and several other students and professors were attacked by masked men and women, allegedly belonging to the ABVP, on Sunday evening, even as the Delhi police did nothing to curtail the violence. While none of the assailants have been officially identified or arrested, two FIRs have been filed against Aishe and other students for allegedly indulging in “physical violence” and for vandalism.
Deepika is the highest paid Indian woman actor. She was also the first woman to enter the top five of Forbes richest Indian celebs list (2018). However, she was accused of going to JNU to promote her film, with Republic TV even running the hashtag #JNUFilmPromotion. Despite the backlash, several people also extended their support to her and Chhapaak. Hashtags like #ISupportDeepika, #IStandWithDeepika and #ChhapakDekhoTapaakSe (Watch Chhapaak fast/promptly) also trended.
In the past few days, Bollywood has come under criticism for not speaking out against police brutality in universities across the country, in the wake of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. After the attack on JNU, the criticism has become sharper, with voices from within the industry like Pooja Bhatt, Anurag Kashyap and Anubhav Sinha exhorting their colleagues to speak out. Previously, several stars from the industry, including Deepika’s husband Ranveer Singh, had met PM Modi for a discussion on how the entertainment industry can contribute to nation-building. Their silence on the government’s clampdown is now being questioned.
While Bollywood women actors like Shabana Azmi, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhasker, Twinkle Khanna and others have been tweeting about the JNU attack, very few male actors have unequivocally condemned the attack.