Bollywood stars criticise colleagues' near-identical tweets on farmers protest
A clear divide between Bollywood celebrities was visible on Thursday as Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhasker, Siddharth criticised similarly worded tweets by stars like Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn in response to pop star Rihanna's post drawing attention to the farmers' agitation in India.
While some from the industry were direct in their criticism, including Pannu, actor-comedian Vir Das and "Rang De Basanti" actor Siddharth, others took a dig at the "puppet" show by big stars for the government.
Popstar Rihanna, the fourth most followed celebrity on Twitter with over 100 million followers, on Tuesday took to the microblogging site to share a CNN news article headlined, "India cuts internet around New Delhi as protesting farmers clash with police."
"Why aren't we talking about this? #FarmersProtest," Rihanna wrote on Tuesday.
Post her tweet, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, Meena Harris, an American lawyer and niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, actors Amanda Cerny, singers Jay Sean, Russ, and former adult star Mia Khalifa voiced their support to the protesting farmers.
India on Wednesday reacted sharply to these tweets with several Bollywood and cricket stars and top ministers rallying around the government in its pushback.
The "temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments is neither accurate nor responsible, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Facts must be ascertained before the rush to comment, the ministry added, using the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda to make its point.
Personalities including Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Lata Mangeshkar, Devgn, Karan Johar and others rallied around the government on social media using hashtags - #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda as they reacted to a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs on the issue.
These tweets advised people to not fall for "false propaganda" and support "an amicable resolution", rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences.
Terming it "embarrassing" and "tragic", many in the film industry called out the celebrities for their sudden and co-ordinated Twitter activity while they failed to notice or acknowledge the plight of farmers.
Taapsee Pannu, who has been a vocal supporter of the farmers' issue, took a jibe at the government's campaign and said one should focus on strengthening one's value system than getting affected by a tweet.
"If one tweet rattles your unity, one-joke rattles your faith or one show rattles your religious belief, then it's you who has to work on strengthening your value system not become propaganda teacher' for others," Pannu wrote.
Actor Sonakshi Sinha, Akshay Kumar's frequent co-star, also supported Rihanna's tweet.
Sinha, in her Instagram stories, shared quotes from a social media page storytellers comics, which said the voices raised by international celebrities are "about the violation of human rights, suppression of free internet and expression, state propaganda, hate speech, and abuse of power."
One of the stories on Sinha's Instagram also dismissed the argument that it was India's internal matter, saying, "these are not alien species but fellow humans who are speaking up for the rights of other humans."
Stand up comedian Vir Das said he was amazed to see how Indians got "mobilized" over a tweet by Rihanna and Thunberg.
Bollywood celebrities have often been questioned by the media for not speaking up on politically sensitive topics unlike their counterparts in the US.
Amid criticism, veteran actor and BJP MP Hema Malini became the latest celebrity to rally behind the government as she tweeted that she was intrigued by the foreign celebrities support when India was just a name "they have heard".
"I'm intrigued by foreign celebrities to whom our glorious country, India, is just a name they have heard, boldly making statements about our internal happenings and policies!" Malini wrote.
"Wonder what they are trying to achieve, and more imptly (importantly), who are they trying to please?" she added.
While Kangana Ranaut was also among the celebrities in support of the government on the farmers' issue, her inflammatory remarks led the social media platform to remove two of her posts, citing rule violation.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and UP, have been protesting for over two months at Delhi''s borders demanding rollback of the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (PTI)