Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao ambassador Amitabh Bachchan thinks 'it's terrible to even talk about' recent rape cases

Abhinav Jai Singh

Apr 19, 2018 15:27:20 IST

While speaking to the media at a song launch event of his upcoming film 102 Not Out, Amitabh Bachchan was asked about the recent instances of rape in Unnao, Surat and Kathua, and the public anger surrounding it. This is what the veteran actor said: "Even discussing this issue feels disgusting, don't bring up this issue. It is terrible to even talk about it".

For the record, it is not necessary for every celebrity to express their opinion about such grave and sensitive matters, especially when there are high chances of their opinions being misinterpreted and uninformed. They are not obligated to make comments or statements about current affairs. But given that Bachchan is the face of this government's most ambitious and noteworthy scheme 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' — the sudden burst of ignorance seems particularly disturbing.

Amitabh Bachchan. Image via Firstpost

Amitabh Bachchan. Image via Firstpost

It's important to note, first, that Bachchan's tryst with politics is a confusing one.

Back in 2007, when Amitabh Bachchan very publicly enjoyed close family relationships with members of the Samajwadi Party, he featured in advertisements declaring "the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh is fine".

While Bachchan quit politics calling it a "cesspool", the actor has virtually never separated himself from it. In a 26 March, 2007 interview with Outlook Magazine, Bachchan was quoted as saying, "I'd be UP's brand ambassador even if another party comes to power".

The now 75-year-old actor had said back then that Uttar Pradesh is his janmabhoomi and seven generations of his family have lived and died in the state, which is why he is the brand ambassador of UP.

Three years later, while promoting Paa in Gujarat, Bachchan expressed his desire to become the brand ambassador of the state while meeting Narendra Modi in a multiplex in Gandhinagar. The actor was quoted saying, "there are lots of good things in Gujarat which should be promoted. I am ready to give my voice and face for the promotion of Gujarat tourism".

He then wished that Paa is made tax free in the state. When the 2012 gang-rape case engulfed news reports across the country, Bachchan spoke out about the horror he felt hearing the gruesome details.

Back then, Bachchan sent out his tweet numbered 974 saying, "'Amanat', 'Damini' just a name now .. her body has passed away, but her soul shall shall forever stir our hearts !!!" He even recited a heartfelt and a painfully moving poem dedicated to Nirbhaya.

So, what changed now? What is it that makes an icon like Amitabh Bachchan, a person who inspires and moves millions of Indians, sweep a burning issue under the rug? Yes, the incidents in Unnao, Kathua, and Surat are abysmal, terrifying and unimaginable, but does that mean we as a society should not discuss it?

The brand ambassador of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' must not say "it is terrible to even talk about it".

How can it be so difficult to openly talk about the obvious problem plaguing this country?

In 2016, Bachchan wrote a letter (pegged to release of his film Pink) to his granddaughters which read:

"Because you are women people will force their thinking, their boundaries on you. They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go. Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom. Don’t let anyone make you believe that the length of your skirt is a measure of your character. Don’t let anyone’s opinion of who you should be friends with, dictate who you will be friends with. Don’t get married for any other reason other than you want to get married. People will talk. They shall say some terrible things. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone. Never ever worry about – log kya kahenge. At the end of the day, you are the only one who will face the consequences of your actions, so don’t let other people make your decisions for you."

Maybe when there's a sequel to Pink, Bachchan will once again understand the terrifying reality of the recent rape cases and become vocal again. Maybe.

Updated Date: Apr 20, 2018 13:06:00 IST