India is a democracy and Bollywood entertainers have equal right to have a political opinion and ideological leaning. They too have a lot at stake when a film is releasing and hence, lead actors do a lot of PR stunts to increase curiosity about their films. Shah Rukh Khan once took August Kranti Express train from Mumbai to Delhi for promotion of his film Raees which glorified underworld don Abdul Latif who reigned terror in Gujarat in the 80s and 90s.
Similarly, three days prior to release of her film Chhapaak, Deepika Padukone decided to show ‘solidarity’ with students who were on the receiving end of violence by masked goons on JNU campus. The leftist goons had attacked students who were registering for winter semester and took over the server room and made it dysfunctional. JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh, who was found leading a mob on Sunday, 5th January, is named in an FIR for vandalism by JNU administration.
Padukone, to show her solidarity with the students, chose to meet Ghosh and her friends while the ones who were the victims during the registration process were ignored. Which is fine, as everyone is a hypocrite at the end of it.
Except, Padukone’s visit to JNU as show of solidarity was anything but organic. It was a PR stunt for her film promotion. And no, this is not something people are saying out of spite for Padukone. Deepika’s pictures from JNU were shared to various media houses by a PR firm ‘Spice PR’.
While most media houses skipped giving credit to Spice PR for the image, BBC inadvertently ended up sharing it. Deepika Padukone is a Spice PR client since 2010. She is also a co-producer of her new film Chhapaak, which is inspired from life of Lakshmi, a victim of acid attack. As soon as the pictures were out, Padukone was hailed as ‘woman of steel’.
Woman of steel! #ISupportDeepika
Reel Life Real Life pic.twitter.com/roH8HAEvcl
— Rofl Republic 🍋🌶 (@i_theindian) January 7, 2020
— Mumin (@ImMumin) January 7, 2020
Woman of steel! #ISupportDeepika
Reel Life Real Life pic.twitter.com/1okx4Vm5ZQ
— 🦋खुराफाती इश्क ❤️ (@masti_ki_duniya) January 7, 2020
Deepika Padukone even got endorsement from former JNU student turned politician Kanhaiya Kumar, who allegedly mourned the death of 2001 Parliament Attack terrorist Afzal Guru on JNU campus in February 2016.
More power to you @deepikapadukone and thank you for your solidarity and support. You might be abused or trolled today, but history will remember you for your courage and standing by the idea of India. pic.twitter.com/q9WkXODchL
— Kanhaiya Kumar (@kanhaiyakumar) January 7, 2020
We could ignore the fact that the film may be highly problematic appropriated story of a disabled woman if this ‘organic’ solidarity towards the JNU students was actually that and not a PR stunt which eventually finds resonance in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Army spokesperson, Asif Ghafoor, tweeted last night and called her brave person in ‘difficult environment’. Then, for reasons best known to Ghafoor, he deleted the endorsement. Perhaps Spice PR realised the stunt may have gone too far and even the bravest don’t like getting endorsement from the terror state of Pakistan.
To sum it up, no, Deepika’s JNU ‘solidarity’ was not organic or a ‘brave move’, it was a PR stunt. The stunt was in coordination with JNUSU. Pakistan army endorses this stunt of Deepika and called her a ‘brave person’.