The actor’s comment decrying violence in the name of any religion has offended right-wingers, who have now accused Sai Pallavi of trivialising the Kashmiri Pandit exodus.

Actor Sai Pallavi Screengrab/ YouTube- Great Andhra
Flix Controversy Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 17:08

Actor Sai Pallavi’s recent comments during an interview, on violence in the name of religion, have sparked a row on the internet with several Hindutva supporters accusing her of trivialising the Kashmiri Pandit exodus. This despite Sai Pallavi saying in her interview that the killing of Kashmiri Pandits was wrong. Sai Pallavi, who plays a woman who falls in love with a Naxal leader and writer in her upcoming film Virata Parvam, was answering questions about ideology and violence in an interview with YouTube channel Greatandhra. In one comment, she said, “Some days ago, this movie The Kashmir Files was released. In that, they showed how Kashmiri Pandits living there at that time were killed. More recently, during COVID time....if you're taking it like a religious conflict, recently, a Muslim man was driving a vehicle transporting cows. Some people stopped him and hit him and forced him to chant slogans of Jai Shri Ram. So what happened then, and what happened now, we can't see any difference.”

Sai Pallavi was asked by the interviewer whether she felt any sympathy for Naxals when she was shooting for her film Virata Parvam, which also stars Rana Daggubatti. “How did you feel when you wore the Naxal uniform and held guns?” the interviewer asked. To this, Sai Pallavi said, “It is an ideology, right? You might have an ideology of peace. I feel that violence is a wrong form of communication. I don’t believe now that issues can be solved with violence, but back then [the time period the film depicts], they [Naxals] would have thought about how to express their difficulties.”

“They formed a group for themselves and their mindset was that they will say and do the ‘right thing’. Whether that was right or wrong…well, we’re not in their situation. It was a different time. As I was saying earlier, for people in Pakistan, what our armed forces do may look like terrorism, because it’s harming them. For us, what they (Pakistan armed forces) do feels the same way. It depends on the perspective,” she said.

“I don't understand violence. I find it very difficult to understand. It is very difficult to say if it is right or wrong. At that time, given the conditions, they had this belief that if we do this, we will get justice; if we do this, we will be able to provide for our family,” she said.

At this point, Sai Pallavi was asked whether she had witnessed politics during her student days. “When you studied in college, you might have seen some Left movement…” the interviewer asked. Sai Pallavi replied, “The way I grew up was very neutral. So I see both of them [Left and Right] neutrally. If I was born in a Left wing family or Right wing family, then maybe I would have favoured a side. But I was raised in a neutral family where they only taught us that one has to be a good human being. If someone is hurting someone else, protect them. The oppressed should be protected. I have heard about Left wing and Right wing but we can't say who is right and who is wrong.” After this, she made the comment about cow vigilantism and Kashmiri Pandit exodus.

“We should be good. If one is a good person, one won't hurt, and one won't put pressure on anyone. So to answer your question, Left or Right, there will not be justice anywhere if you're not a good human being. If you're a good human being, wherever you are, everyone will become neutral,” she said. “I'm very neutral so I will only try to say that if anyone is being oppressed…suppose among the two of us, if you're stronger than me and you oppress me, then you are in the wrong. There can be a battle only when we both are equal.”

A large section of right-wing users have trolled Sai Pallavi for her comments. Meanwhile, many social media users and politicians have come out in support of the actor. Congress leader Rithu Choudhary tweeted that Sai Pallavi’s courage is appreciated.

READ: Kashmir is not a file: Propaganda and politics in India

Sai Pallavi and Rana Daggubati’s upcoming film Virata Parvam is set to hit the big screens on June 17. Helmed by filmmaker Venu Udugula, Virata Parvam is set in the backdrop of the Naxalite movement that took place in the Telangana region in the 1990s. Rana will be essaying the role of Ravanna, a Naxalite leader, who is also a revolutionary writer known by his pen name Aranya. Sai Pallavi will be seen as Vennela, a reader who goes out of her way to meet Aranya. Vennela is faced with unprecedented obstacles when she embarks on the quest to meet him.

The ensemble cast also includes actors Priyamani, Nanditha Das, Naveen Chandra, Zareena Wahab, Eswari Rao, Sai Chand, Benarji, Nagineedu, Rahul Ramakrishna, Devi Prasad, Anand Ravi, and Anand Chakrapani, among others in pivotal roles.

Read: Being Sai Pallavi: Actor on Love Story, stardom, turning down roles and more

Also read: 'The Hour of Lynching' documentary: A portrait of grief triggered by cow vigilantism

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