Pro government - Anti Government group
Government meetings with Bollywood
Modi Government's influence
RSS interest in Bollywood / Sushant's posters used in Bihar campaign
Takeover of Bollywood
On October 2, Karan Johar announced on Twitter that he and some other filmmakers were planning to make “content about the valour, values and culture of India” to mark 75 years of Independence, tagging and thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “guidance”.
Just days earlier, Johar had made another announcement on Twitter, after one of his employees was arrested as part of an offshoot investigation arising out of the inflating Sushant Singh Rajput death case. He declared he had never consumed drugs, and that he did not know the arrested person. He also threatened legal action against “slanderous” statements.
Read | Sushant case: Is it media’s job to advise investigating agency on how to conduct probe, asks HC
The employee is now one of 20 held —four are out on bail, including Rajput’s friend Rhea Chakraborty — as part of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) probe into “the citadel of drugs in Bollywood”.
Johar’s October 2nd tweet was hashtagged #ChangeWithin, a slogan that first started circulating within the film industry last year, when the government kicked off the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Last October, it appeared at the end of a video on Gandhi by Rajkumar Hirani (whose Munnabhai series was inspired by the Mahatma). The slogan was also the theme of a meeting of Bollywood’s crème de la crème — including Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Sonam Kapoor —with the PM in Delhi in the third week of October 2019, where they thanked the chance to participate in “nation building”.
A year later, Bollywood is battered by Covid-19, with work at almost a complete standstill. But the Rajput case hangs over it as a larger shadow.
This is not the first time the film industry has dealt with blunt instruments of the government — from bans during the Emergency to the Censors, and from Income Tax to Customs. However, it is the first time that it finds itself the target of multiple agencies — the CBI, Enforcement Directorate, and NCB — at the same time. And the first time public sentiments are being whipped up against some of their most popular stars, by TV channels to politicians.
With Johar’s tweet a signal to those outside as well as within that Bollywood has no stomach for a fight, the criticism that the industry’s biggest are not the boldest has got louder. However, a filmmaker defends: “Right now, how does anyone speak? There’s a witch hunt on… The other thing is, what used to give citizens a certain courage, that whatever happens, the media will protect us, where is it today? The media is part of the lynch mob.”
The filmmaker points to an “open letter” by the Producers’ Guild of India on September 4, decrying the “relentless attacks” on the film industry. “It was a very important statement, a very well-worded statement. Did anybody report it?”
Azmi also says Bollywood is being used to distract from the real crises facing the country. “Like Urmila Matondkar said, if the industry is as awful as is being projected, why did the PM ask it to make films on Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology?”
The filmmaker points out that even stars like Aamir and Shah Rukh were targeted after they spoke up about intolerance. “Why is Aamir choosing to keep quiet? He knows that if speaks, nobody’s going to be standing by him. Few people tweeting in support makes no difference.”
Mehta says social media has had a reductive effect. “If Sushant’s death had been debated with greater nuance, politicians could not have used it to divert us from other issues. But we are not open to nuance… The government has realised we want a yes or no. We don’t want a maybe.”
However, Azmi believes, none of this dims Bollywood shine for the hundreds headed to it with stars in their eyes. “Not a chance. The fact is we have never witnessed the inflow of talent we see today… people from small towns, theatre.”
One of them, what now seems a long, long time ago, was Rajput.
If 2019 was Bollywood’s best year, with collections in excess of Rs 4,000 crore, and the liberating digital space, this year will go down as its worst. If the pandemic-induced lockdown delivered the first gut punch, the tentacles of the Sushant Singh Rajput death investigation have hovered on some of its big names. With three central agencies part of the probe, the message, many fear, is clear.
Edited by Sutapasima - 1 months ago
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