Silent stars

 Parveen K Dogra |  2016-08-07 19:33:29.0  |  New Delhi

Silent stars

The capital of Bangladesh was shaken on July 1 when a café near the diplomatic neighbourhood was attacked and 29 innocent people, including an Indian, were killed. The world shared their grief and social media was flooded with condemnations.

India’s known actor Irrfan Khan condemned the gruesome killings too. He took to social media to express his condolences to the victims. He also lashed out at the terrorists for bringing a bad name to Islam by carrying out such activities and questioned the Muslim community for keeping mum over this issue. 

"Quran ki aayeten naa janne ki wajeh se ramzaan ke mahine mein logon ko qatal ker diya gaya. Haadsa ek jagah hota hai, badnaam Islaam aur poori duniya ka musalman hota hai,” Irrfan mentioned on his post. 

Bachpan mein mazhab ke baare mein kaha gaya tha ki aapka parausi(neighbor) bhooka ho toh aapko usko shamil kiye bina akele khana nehi khana chahiye. Bangladesh ki khabar sunker ander ajeeb vehshat ka sannatta hai…

Woh Islaam jiski buniyaad hi aman, reham aur dusro ka dard mehsoos kerna hai. Aise me kya musalman chup baitha rahe aur mazhab ko badnaam hone de? ya wo khud Islaam ke sahi mayne(meaning) ko samajhe aur doosron ko bataye, ki zulm aur qatlo gharat(massacre) karna Islaam nehi hai. YEH EK SAWAAL HAI !! 

A few days before this, Irrfan had also questioned the need for fasting during the month of Ramzan. “Rather than fasting during Ramzan, people should self-introspect. Animals are being slaughtered in the name of qurbaani during Muharram. We Muslims have made a mockery of Muharram. It is meant for mourning and what we do? Take out (tajiya) processions”, he was quoted as saying. 

The actor also criticised Muslims for not speaking up against terrorism. “Why Muslims are silent about the issue of terrorism,” he had asked.

 Irrfan raised some pertinent questions which are not applicable to a particular community but he hit out at every ill-practice of every religion. Now, how often does an Indian celebrity take such open stand and if one rarely dares, is seen changing his version or alleges media misinterpretations? 

Irrfan’s stand on the issue was bold and unprecedented. He stood by it despite media channels taking hardly a moment to air special shows with ‘Irrfan’s controversial remarks on Muslim community’ on the screen and several clerics advised him to “keep his mouth shut and focus on his films”.

Should a film star, a player, a writer, a singer or anyone who enjoys the mass-following, only focus on what they are into or do they have a social or moral responsibility to shoulder as well? Why is it that in India a majority of those who are followed by billions, hardly take a tough stand on problems or issues related to the same masses?

“A change is being witnessed in the film Industry’s stand on several issues. I have been observing it for last two years. The younger lot is responding quite openly on almost every issue. People like Anurag Kashyap, Swara Bhaskar, Sona Mahapatra and many others are openly sharing their views on different platforms.  The entire FTII issue, JNU row and even the Pahlaj Nihalani Vs Anurag Kashyap row over censorship, provides us with an opportunity to witness that the youth who are still carving out careers in the industry openly support social movements,” says media critic and author (Mandi mein Media) Vineet Kumar. 

He also adds, “But yes when it comes to those who have reached the top of their careers like Amithabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan or Sachin Tendulkar, they always play safe. The Brand Ambassador of Gujarat (Amitabh) will be seen inviting you to spend a few days in Gujarat (Kuch din to bitayiye Gujarat mein) but you will not hear a single word against the atrocities on Dalits in that same state. 

Aamir has already lost the ambassadorship of Incredible India and Snapdeal worth millions after he had commented on how unsafe he and his wife feel as a Muslim in India. Anupam Kher who has been quite vocal on ‘nationalism’ and the ‘Kashmiri pandit’ issue, is silent when Kashmir is on the boil. Similar is the case with Tendulkar who has financial interests with innumerable brands. The Khel Ratna is only seen rubbing shoulders with Mukesh and Neeta Ambani.” 

On the question of how just is the allegation that stars don’t speak up fearing media misinterpretation, Vineet is of the opinion that, “To some extent, media and stars work in a similar way. In a situation where the mainstream media cannot handle hard news, they tend to divert the viewers by presenting Positive India, Good Morning India or Happy hour news with a feel-good factor. Similarly, when these stars cannot handle the social problems associated with their financial interests, their social media post will be on philosophy, art, culture, literature and so on. They will not share their thoughts on Kashmir or the Gujarat Dalit row.” Besides, the claim that they don’t speak because the media ‘misinterpret’ their opinions is an easy escape route.

Tales of an exception: Nana Patekar
Before leaving the world stunned with his acting skills, Nana Patekar did odd jobs to earn a living. From earning as little as Rs 35 a month, the actor has now become one of the most generous donors to the farmers of the drought-hit regions. His story has inspired many. 

He still prefers living a simple life and chooses to live in a one BHK apartment with his mother. He had made several generous donations (Rs 15,000 per family) to as many as 62 farmer families in the Marathwada region. Several media reports assert that the actor had donated 90 per cent of his earnings.  His organisation now plans to connect with 700 more in the areas of Nagpur, Latur, Hingoli, Parbani, Nanded and Aurangabad etc.  

Patekar personally went and visited farmer widows to hand over cheques of Rs 15,000 each in Latur, Marathwada. He continued even when there was a power failure. People turned on torchlights on their phones just so he could continue his deeds.  Explaining his involvement and contribution towards the cause, Patekar told media: “Marte damm tak jeene ki vajah mil gai hai mujhe.” (I have found a reason to live, till I die.)

His foundation has already successfully managed to collect Rs 22 crores from the people for farmer welfare. The major aim of the foundation now is to fill back the dried lakes and rivers in order to provide safe drinking water to farmers and their families. Patekar, who had undergone strict army training for three years to perfect his role for Prahaar, was given the honorary rank of Captain in the early 1990s. Even after the last shot for that movie, he had lent his services to the army, including a stint during the Kargil war. 

“Rs 1000 crore is being spent on Modi government’s completion of two years and just 700 crore to dying farmers of my Maharashtra. If the government had accomplished it at grassroot level, it would not have needed a 1000 crore on advertisement. The government could waive off two states’ farmer loans with that amount so that rest of them could stay alive”, Patekar had said. 

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