What began as a blind item in Rajeev Masand’s column has spiralled into a full-blown controversy. Masand’s column was about a petition floated by a “a senior female actor, a firebrand feminist”, objecting to the way certain groups “threatened physical violence against the leading lady of a controversial Hindi film”. Apparently, three actresses refused to sign the petition. A “famously rebellious actress”, “a top star” and another actress who “holds a foreign passport”. The first actress declined to be part of the campaign because “few have supported her in her own crises”, the second one “wanted to consult her lawyer”, and the third one has a foreign passport.
Well, it’s not difficult to guess who is who, except for the lady who wanted to consult her lawyer. The veteran actress is Shabana Azmi, the threatened actress is Deepika Padukone, the famously rebellious actress is Kangana Ranaut and the one with a foreign passport is Katrina Kaif. But now this piece of blind item in a gossip column is driving a different kind of conversation. Several news portals chose to carry the story Kangana focusing on it. Many ran their pieces with the headline “tit for tat”, many ran reports about how Kangana wanted to be a part of Padmavati, and that’s the reason she refused to lend her support to Padukone. Not one to stay mum when fingers are pointed at her, Kangana issued a statement putting an end to such petty talks of cold war between the actresses. She said:
I was filming Manikarnika in Jodhpur, got a call from my dear friend Anushka Sharma to sign the petition written by Ms Shabana Azmi, I explained to Anushka that Deepika Padukone has all my support but I am a bit wary of Shabana Azmi’s investment in left wing vs right wing politics.
She also accused Azmi of not supporting her when she was bullied
I have my own set of ideas and opinions about the current situation in our country, I am on the fence about many things and being a part of a feminist movement called ‘Deepika bachao’ lead by someone who character assassinated me when I was bullied, seems to be one of them.
With this statement, in one stroke not only Kangana got back at Shabana Azmi, but also gave us a peek into her political worldview- that in the battle of right-wing and left-wing, she is a fence-sitter. She also stated that the campaign was named “Deepika bachao”, which seems to mimic the government’s “beti bachao” initiative.
Social media is going gaga over this statement of hers.
Read some of these tweets:
You go girl! Enough of genuflecting to established self serving ecosystems. Lutyens and Bollywood – you ruled enough Don’t Want To Be A Part Of Shabana Azmi’s Politics: Kangana Ranaut https://t.co/oVmQ7H7krd via @swarajyamag
— Shikha Singh Menon (@ShikhaClouds) December 6, 2017
When Kangana Ranaut was suffering and taking on the powerful all alone, some Bollywood aunties branded her a liar, drama queen, feminist victimizing an innocent man. The same aunties are today floating petitions to protect Deepika Padukone. Hypocrites of the first order!
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) December 6, 2017
1. Not everyone thinks that what Azmi does is pure activism.
2. That her politics is always in favour of Leftist ecosystem is a truth that appears to have finally dawned on some. https://t.co/Ow1ATg3ejs
— Swarajya (@SwarajyaMag) December 6, 2017
Has anyone seen Shabana Azmi lead a petition against triple talaq, halala and inequality of women in Kuran? All her activism is against others. Kangana is right not to be played upon by Azmi.
— Pritam (@Pritam84395409) December 6, 2017
Kangana’s refusal to sign Shabana Azmi’s puny petition shows how the entire ecosystem is decaying. Deemed intellectuals of yesteryears are now irrelevant and passé. We need more aware and informed trendsetters like Kangana and not some brain dead bimbos in Bollywood.
— जनेऊधारी हिंदू (@Chopdasaab) December 5, 2017
Good to see some Bollywood actresses not get pulled into dirty left vs right politics. We need more like her! https://t.co/2mwpBfIvlU
— Shawn Binda (@ShawnBinda) December 6, 2017
When dumbs like @aliaa08 don’t even know the Padmavati row meticulously, she blindly signed the petition. Kangana is a self-made, matured and practically educated woman. Respect her decision. Do read this link of Indian express, guys. https://t.co/8RjeRycefF
— Abhishek Maratha (@AbhishekGhegde) December 5, 2017
As is clear from these tweets, the statement helped has deviate the focus from Karni Sena and other right-wing groups’ abhorrent calls for beheading Deepika Padukone. Suddenly is about pitting Kangana’s feminism against Shabana Azmi’s feminism. Suddenly, everyone is celebrating Kangana’s feminism while vilifying Azmi by calling her activism as “agenda driven”.
The fact of the matter it’s unfair to compare support for a personal fallout between two individuals and a threat to someone’s physical safety.
Her personal equation with Kangana Ranaut not withstanding, Azmi has been vocal critic of religious extremism all her life.
Islamophobia drove me,an agnostic,to embrace my faith.Terrorism makes me shun it.Stop this horror both ways! Let there be coexistence.
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) July 4, 2016
She has been equally critical of practices like triple talaq.
I welcome the Supreme Court judgement on instant Triple Talaq. Its a victory 4 brave Muslim women who hve waged battle against it for years
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) August 22, 2017
While Kangana is entitle to her opinion on Padmavati. It is a personal stand, not a feminist stand.Those using the crutch of Kangana’s statement to discredit a well-meaning initiative is doing a disservice to the more relevant issue of freedom of expression, tolerance and law and order situation in the country.