Priyanka Chopra apologises for calling Sikkim insurgency-hit state, after social media backlash
"Words can inspire and words can destroy. Choose yours well," says The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari author Robin Sharma. Advice that may have served actress Priyanka Chopra well, as she finds herself in a row over her choice of words to describe the state of Sikkim.
Chopra is currently in the Canadian capital at the Toronto International Film Festival with her production house's (Purple Pebble Pictures) latest offering, Pahuna. It is a Sikkimese film and is directed by Paakhi Tyrewala.
While talking about the film's relevance in one of her interviews, Chopra said, "Sikkim is a small state in the Northeast of India which never had a film industry of its own or anyone who made films from there and this is the first film ever that came out from this region because it is very troubled with insurgency..."
The two major loopholes in her statement — 1. that Sikkim never had a film industry and that her film, Pahuna is the first ever to come out of the region; and 2. calling Sikkim an insurgency infested region — led to a major backlash against the actress on social media.
Many called out Priyanka, asking her to get her facts right.
Here's what Twitterati had to say:
Sikkim is one of the most peaceful states, dear Priyanka. We don't have any insurgency here. Plz comment responsibly.@priyankachopra
— Santosh Subba (@sonupondhak) September 13, 2017
— Jayesh Veeraraghavan (@JayeshRaghavan) September 14, 2017
— Indira Laisram (@indira_laisram) September 13, 2017
A recent report by EclecticNorthEast.in stated that Pahuna in fact is only a recent film; there have been numerous Sikkimese films in the past. Katha and Acharya by one of the region's talented filmmakers, Prashant Rasaily; this year's Lepcha film Dhokbu etc. Director Ugen Chatola has in fact made many films starring Bollywood actor Danny Denzongpa (who also hails from Sikkim) which have been commercially successful as well.
It was earlier reported that the Sikkim Tourism Ministry was on board as a partner with Chopra's Pahuna team, as the film revolves around Sikkim and most of the cast and crew hail from the region. But with the recent turn of events, the Sikkim Tourism Ministry has reportedly reconsidered giving a grant to the film and demanded an apology from the actress, News 18 reported.
Priyanka has now apologised to the Sikkim government, while her mother, Madhu Chopra, spoke with Sikkim Tourism Minister Ugen Gyatso, also extending an apology on the actress' behalf. Confirming the same, Gyatso told India Today Television: "Her mother spoke to me over (the) phone and has apologised for the comment."
Pahuna — The Little Visitors is a story about three Nepalese children who get separated from their parents. The film details their journey of escaping the Maoist agitation in Nepal and then fleeing to Sikkim. The film has premiered this year at TIFF 2017 and earned a lot of accolades.
Chopra has been producing regional films, with her Marathi film Ventilator winning much acclaim (including the National Award) last year.
Here's the controversial interview: