There was a name trending on Twitter yesterday, and co-ordinated tweets were targeting Deepika Padukone’s Chhapaak for apparently changing the name (and religion) of a man accused of carrying out an acid-attack. If the tweets were to be believed, the real-life character called Nadeem was being called ‘Rajesh’ in Meghna Gulzar’s film inspired from the life of acid-attack survivor and activist, Laxmi Agarwal. Soon, many began to ask if Gulzar’s film was anti-Hindu, for changing the religion of the assailant from Muslim to Hindu.
This happened hours after Padukone visited the JNU campus and extended her solidarity to the JNUSU. Both #BoycottChhapaak and #ISupportDeepikaPadukone became nationwide trends after Padukone became the first A-list Bollywood celebrity to take a stand on JNU violence. Several publications carried out 30-minute special programmes and put out ‘think pieces’ condemning Gulzar’s film for straying from the ‘facts’ to such an extent. Mind you, nobody had seen the film, all this furore was generated out of hearsay, and playing into the right-wing’s narrative of calling for the film’s boycott.
Not that you have anything better to do with your time but lemme save you some. Attacker’s religion has not been changed in the film. Now go find some other issue to pounce on & create a circus. Jokers!!! https://t.co/VczCH95anL
— Abhinandan Sekhri (@AbhinandanSekhr) January 8, 2020
Reputed journalist Abhinandan Sekhri busted the fake news (after watching the film) stating that the religion of the assailant had not been changed. After seeing the film ourselves, we can safely conclude that the tweets circulating about the assailant’s religion being changed, is unequivocally false. Guddu a.k.a Nadeem has become Babbu a.k.a Basheer in Meghna Gulzar’s film.
Media outlets IANS, India TV, News18 and Jansatta published reports which falsely claimed that the acid attacker’s name in ‘Chhapaak’ was changed from Naeem Khan to ‘Rajesh’. #AltNewsFactCheck | @Pooja_Chaudhuri https://t.co/VIIsZNkIkm
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) January 9, 2020
Having said that, in a story where Laxmi has become Malti, Alok has become Amol… it’s the filmmaker’s prerogative to change the name of the assailant to anything he/she sees fit. It’s unimaginable how the right-wing trolls have turned even this into a Hindu-Muslim issue. Acid attacks is hardly a Hindu-Muslim issue, there have been cases reported where the assailants have belonged to either of the religions. It’s incredibly daft to attack a filmmaker based on the religion of her character, but as it can be seen very clearly – this ‘controversy’ was manufactured out of thin air, because the film’s lead actor took a stand on a national issue.