Bollywood stars have their opinions when it comes to the false “intolerance debate”. They have their opinions when they have to sign petitions to keep out one man from the Government. They have opinions during issues like demonetisation. But sadly, unlike some of their colleagues, some in Bollywood do not have any opinions when it comes the life of a man who has been sentenced to death by Pakistan on the pretext of being a spy.
For some time now, the Indian media space has covered the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav quite promptly. Jadhav was abducted by Pakistan, branded a spy and then sentenced to death by a Military court in Pakistan. This, even though Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had admitted long time ago, that the Pakistani government was presented with only “insufficient evidence” on Kulbhushan Jadhav who is under detention. Addressing a full Senate chamber, Aziz had said the dossier on Jadhav contained mere statements.
While most literate Indians would be well aware of this issue, at least some in Bollywood would like us to believe that they are ignorant of the facts, hence are not qualified to have an opinion. Yes, suddenly Bollywood stars need to know facts to speak out. And that too in a case where an Indian has been dealt with in an extremely unfair manner.
At a recent event a reporter asked Bollywood heart-throb Ranbir Kapoor, to spare a few words for Jadhav. The reporter specified that Jadhav had been sentenced to capital punishment in Pakistan, and he expressed hope that a statement from an icon of the stature of Ranbir, would help in securing Jadhav’s release. This is what Ranbir had to say:
I do not have much information on this issue and I do not want to make any irresponsible comments but when I do obtain more information I will speak on this issue.
A similar question was posed at another event where Sushant Singh Rajput had turned up to promote his film. A reporter mentioned how Jadhav had been awarded a death penalty in Pakistan and asked the star for their views on the same. A team member came to Sushant’s rescue saying that this was not the event for such a question. To this, a reporter interjected that they shouldn’t have ducked such a question since it was one on national interest.
On hearing this Rajput snapped and became aggressive. He claimed that since it was a “sensitive” issue one shouldn’t speak if one is not informed about it. The journalist then said that all Rajput had to do was to either condemn the act of Pakistan or not. Rajput responded very aggressively saying that one should be aware of the facts and be responsible to respond to such issues. A look at the video can show how worked up Rajput got:
It was indeed odd for someone like a Sushant Singh Rajput, who has been in the past been vocal about complex and polarising issues like demonetisation, to side-step a straightforward question on condemning a death penalty to an Indian by Pakistan.
Here we saw Rajput ducking a direct question, but recently, the same Sushant Singh took to twitter to proclaim that he had dropped the surname “Rajput” in solidarity with the movie Padmavati. This was his spontaneous reaction, unprovoked by any media person, when news broke out about the attack on the sets of Padmavati.
Actress Vidya Balan too was asked to comment on Jadhav’s death sentence by Pakistan, and she too had the standard reply about not having enough information. She claimed that she did not have complete information about this issue and hence she should not say anything.
Bollywood celebrities do have the right to remain silent on issues which they do not want to discuss. But it certainly raises eyebrows when some otherwise vocal celebrities suddenly choose to be evasive, especially when asked a point blank question. In the current instance, the topic was also extremely simple: It was a well debated issue and condemning such an act was in no way controversial. Rather their silence has now created a controversy.
Even if one may assume that our usually up-to-date stars were ill-educated on this issue, the reporters asking the question made it clear that a death penalty to an Indian was the issue, and it would not take much from anyone to condemn a death penalty at the very least!