So, Sathyaraj went on record expressing his regret for what he said nine years ago. Nobody, however, questioned why these protesting voices in Karnataka erupted just as a fi lm of Baahubali-2’s scale was set for release. These aren’t isolated cases, mind you. Rajinikanth wanted to go to Sri Lanka to participate in a housing project for Tamilians in Jaffna, and was forced to cancel his plans. Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam-2 is said to be gearing up for release this year but the furore over Vishwaroopam-1 is still fresh in our memory.
We want our icons to talk, to share their opinions, to give their two cents on whatever it is that occupies ‘news space’, and yet, we won’t accord them their space to voice, to create and to act as citizens of a free country! The next time Rajinikanth has to make travel plans for an event, does he have to check with every fringe group out there to verify if he has their stamp of approval on his passport? While we seek out actors and film talents to give their ‘bites’ on current affairs, politics, and sometimes, even the weather (!), why is there such intolerance towards what they say or do? A common man has the freedom to tweet on raging issues but when a celebrity does it, all hell breaks loose, and it comes back to haunt them just as a film on which crores are riding, is set for release? A certain responsibility is vested in all of us as citizens, as much as it is with celebrities. Our country, it seems, has a seasonal penchant for turning the spotlight on film stars, and then, suddenly for throwing stones at those very people! The recent jallikattu controversy saw so many ‘righteous’ comments directed at Kamal Haasan, following some of his tweets.
He was lectured so much about what he should or should not opine that he finally had to remind them of his right to free speech: “Just because you do not approve of what I’m saying does not mean I won’t say it — my opinions are mine just like you have yours.” Icon-bashing has become a phenomenon in India and social media has made it an easy pastime. We are obsessed with our film stars, and don’t really let them live with their opinions. The slack we cut for our own selves, we refuse to cut for celebrities.
Why? Sathyaraj exercised just caution and expressed regret in his statement last week which will now ensure the release of Baahubali: The Conclusion in Karnataka. But what indeed is the value of a blackmailed apology? Who is playing the class teacher here and trying to bring errant celebrities to book? What joy does anyone derive when they force a fellow citizen, who also lives in a free democratic country, touted to be one of the greatest Republics in this world, to disown what he/she believes in? How does a personal point of view or political affiliation affect your perception of an actor’s professional work? Where is the rationale behind India’s faceless fringe elements targeting an actor only so they can get him to say one word: Sorry.