THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART The Society Actors and Politics – Gimmick is it?

Actors and Politics – Gimmick is it?


After Martin Freeman admitted he didn’t like to speak out about his views on politics, it started a debate on whether thesps should get involved in politics at all. Actor Martin Freeman, who doesn’t lack socialist chops, says that, unlike his Sherlock co-star, Benedict Cumberbatch, he doesn’t think that it’s a good idea for actors to hold forth on politics. “It’s deeply annoying to have someone like me, who doesn’t know everything, bang on,” says Freeman. “Actors can be pompous and we can overestimate our importance.” It’s not that all actors are ignorant about the happenings or are not concerned. Most activist-actors mean well and it’s great that they want to put their celebrity to good use; but someone should tell them – fame alone is not enough. Fact is, some thespians are smart, well informed and interesting, and others only manage to portray such sterling qualities. Don’t actors need to realize that when you say something ill informed, idiotic, and sanctimonious in real-life, you can’t do it again, there’s no “second take”, it’s just out there forever.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli when asked about the furore currently encircling North East said that he will not comment on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) without having proper knowledge about the law. “The city is absolutely safe. We did not have any issues with reaching here. When it comes to CAA, I do not want to be irresponsible. You need to have total information and then you should give your opinion on it. I would not like to get myself involved in something that I do not have knowledge about,” Kohli told reporters on the eve of the first T20I against Sri Lanka. That is how it should go – just as players are meant to play, so are actors meant only to act. That’s it. Nothing less or more. Be an honest citizen, pay your taxes on time and if further more is desired, contribute to the well-being of the society by serving the needy. Yes, some actors are no doubt doing their bit, but then there are some who on the pretext of raising their voice and concern are merely gathering masses to rake in the moolah and join the famed 100 crore club.

Actors joining politics after their acting career is over is altogether a different matter, but it is nothing short of sedition trying to stir in a controversy just to get attention. No other state was highly effected as was the case of North East because of the recently introduced Citizenship Amendment Act. Yet how many national level actors do we have who has come out and voiced his concern? None! I believe. We have Priyanka Chopra who was the brand ambassador of Assam Tourism. A biopic on Mary Kom has earned her crores besides the limelight and awards. But apart from some elephant safaris and photo-shoots in Mekhela- Chadar we don’t see any praiseworthy contribution. John Abraham another macho man who owns NorthEast United FC was nowhere to be seen when unity of North East was at stake. Not only them, our very own Seema Biswas, Adil Hussain, Dipannita Sharma, Plabita Borthakur, Parineeta Borthakur, Diganta Hazarika, Devoleena Bhattacharjee and the likes who has carved a niche for themselves in the B-Town by means of sheer talent chose to play safe when it mattered the most. Just as men will always be men, politics will always remain politics. But the cocktail of thespians and politics just doesn’t blend in. Democratically, we have the people’s representatives, but apart from that we have our actors and actresses whom the masses idealize. It is not because of the money they have, nor is it because of their glamorous lifestyle. It is because of the connect that the common people can relate to.

Someone, somewhere in his lifetime has always connected to the characters being portrayed on-screen. Having said so, it is not because of the actors who we common people are, it is because of us, the common people that the actors are what they are. Behind every Dadasaheb Phalke Award, there is years of loyalty coming from the fans who pray that each movie of their superstar becomes a mega-hit. Every filmfare award that goes on to establish an actor in the silver screen not only has the applause of the audience present during the award ceremony, but also carries the whistles during a dialogue, the applause during a fight, the smiling faces after a happy climax and the standing ovation after a superlative performance. What pains is the way these standing ovations are trying to be achieved today, it’s all a number game, and it’s all about box office collections even if one has to play with emotions.

Deepika Padukone recently attended an event in Mumbai where she was asked about her visit to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on January 7. The actress’s response – silence. Deepika’s short visit created a stir, as it were, across the country, with half pledging to boycott her film Chhapaak because she chose to stand with ‘anti-national’ elements and the other hailing her for lending silent support. Silent, being the operative word. If this visit was for a genuine sympathy, then let her speak her heart out. Other way round, well if this visit was merely a promotional gimmick, create controversy amidst adversity as is the trend nowadays, I feel sorry to say this trick up her magician’s sleeve has been foreseen, if box office collections are to be followed. Sure there are some who have time and again voiced their concerns. Actors like Farhan Akhtar has called the Citizenship Amendment Act discriminatory. Akhtar along with members of the film fraternity such as, Anurag Kashyap and Aditi Rao Hydari had protested against the Citizenship Act at Mumbai’s August Kranti Maidan. But is it enough? Are they doing their bit when they post a mere message on twitter with a sad emoji to depict their emotions? Are they doing their bit when they lead a candle- light march and observe two minutes of silence? Certainly not, because these so called celebrities have the access to the ones who frame the laws, these celebrities have the conviction of the masses and more is expected out of them. Else, let them just do what they are best at, entertainment. But trying to politicize this entertainment is something which shouldn’t be at their helm of affairs because leadership is not something which you merely do, it is something which you also have to believe in.

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