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The Buzz Cut: How Bollywood Celebrities Feel About the NRC‑CAA

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Dec 28, 2019

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In The Buzz Cutwe bring you a round-up of all the weird, controversial, and wonderful stories we’ve been reading all week.


Farhan Akhtar, while attending a protest in Mumbai on Dec. 19, told the press, “To raise your voice against something is an absolute democratic right. People are raising their voices and there seems to be a certain amount of discrimination in what is happening. As a citizen of the country and as someone who has been born and grown up with a certain idea of what India is, it is important for me to raise my voice.” But he shied away from asserting why exactly he’s raising his voice. “I don’t want to discuss details right now … Why would so many people be concerned if everything was okay?”

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Vicky Kaushal, in solidarity with protesters’ right to protest, tweeted, “What is happening is not okay. The way it’s happening is not okay. People have every right to peacefully voice their opinion. This violence and disruption is both saddening and concerning as a fellow citizen. In no circumstance, must our faith in democracy be shaken.”

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Sushant Singh, of Savdhaan India fame, was dropped as the anchor of the show after he decided to join the Dec. 19 anti-CAA rally in Mumbai. While voicing support for the protesters afraid of the CAA, he urged young people not to pay too much mind to the celebrities not lending their voice to the fight. Hindustan Times reported him saying, “We shouldn’t have any problem with celebrities who are not expressing their opinions. Whenever a revolution has happened — not just in India — it hasn’t been brought by celebrities. It has been brought by the youth of the country, whether it was our freedom fight or anything else. Now, too, the youth is opposing the government through peaceful protests.”

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Possibly the loudest of all the anti-CAA celebrity protesters is Swara Bhaskar, seen decimating journalists who are asking her leading questions, with an informed understanding of the NRC-CAA, leading azadi chants from the stage at multiple protests, doing explainers on the unrest across the country, all the while calling the UP police fascist and demanding an independent probe into brutalities committed by them. When it comes to Bhaskar, there is no ambiguity to her stance.

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Kangana Ranaut, on the other hand, stoked anti-student flames at a recent press event. Expressing concerns against violence and for India’s tax payers, she said, “So then what gives you the rights to burn buses and trains and to create ruckus in the country?” placing blame on one burned bus in Delhi on the student protesters. She also denigrated protesters’ motivations to take to the streets to voice dissent as something they were doing to seem “cool.”

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The same conviction of opinion, sadly, is not mirrored by the likes of Karan Johar. It’s quite difficult to glean where exactly he stands from his words. Speaking to NDTV Gadgets 360, Johar said, “I think artists basically have the ability of reaching out to many millions of people, especially in this day and age of social media, where artists engaging with those platforms have millions of followers and thousands of people who follow them and read what they have to say and do. What an artist can do is express. An artist can express on the platform that they may to express on, in our case it’s celluloid or digital, and that they can express their thoughts and put it out there, and hopefully their thoughts will impact generations.”

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Priyanka Chopra joined the slew of confusing, seemingly positive statements Bollywood made about the current unrest in the country. She tweeted, “Education for every child is our dream. Education is what empowered them to think independently. We have raised them to have a voice. In a thriving democracy, to raise one’s voice peacefully and be met with violence is wrong. Every voice counts. And each voice will work towards changing India. #HaveVoiceWillRaise #HaveVoiceMustRaise.”

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And so did Hrithik Roshan, who delivered one of the most confusing statements regarding the issue. “As a parent and a citizen of India , I am deeply saddened by the unrest across various educational institutions of our country. I hope and pray for peace to return as soon as possible. Great teachers learn from their students. I salute the world’s youngest democracy,” he tweeted. What does he mean???

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It’s difficult to say if saying empty, optimistic words are better or worse than being silent. But Akshay Kumar somehow managed to do both. When screenshots of Akshay Kumar liking a tweet mocking the police crackdown on Jamia students went viral, he issued a statement not about his stance, but about liking the tweet “by mistake.” He tweeted his clarification: “Regarding the ‘like’ on the tweet of Jamia Milia students, it was by mistake. I was scrolling and accidentally it must have been pressed and when I realized I immediately unliked it as In no way do I support such acts.”

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Many Bollywood celebrities have either issued a statement condemning the universally-detested phenomenon of violence, or pussyfooted around condemning the NRC-CAA. While a select few have chosen to dissent, most Bollywood bigwigs remain silent — probably waiting for the next event, when they’ll be able to click a selfie with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Written By Rajvi Desai

Rajvi Desai is The Swaddle’s Culture Editor. After graduating from NYU as a Journalism and Politics major, she covered breaking news in New York City. Back in the homeland, she spends her free time trying to dismantle societal beauty standards, laughing uproariously at comedy shows, and fervently following her football team, Arsenal.

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