Shweta Basu sex scandal: Bollywood is just a fence sitter in her case
For the past month, we've heard Rani Mukerji talk a lot about Indian women - how to empower them, how they should be self-reliant, how they should fight against social injustice, how women should support one another, so on and so forth. Of course it was all part of the promotional campaign for her film Mardaani, but if you were hoping that all the gung-ho, pro-women spiel she was giving out as sound bytes were genuinely heartfelt, it might be time for a reality check.
From the look of things, now that Mardaani is out, the actress has absolved herself from the responsibilities of being a women's rights' activists. In a recent press conference, the actress was asked about actress Shweta Basu Prasad's involvement in a prostitution ring, but Mukerji, who was last seen saving a bunch of girls from a prostitution racket onscreen, refused to comment. With Mardaani almost two weeks old, Mukerji obviously has no need to answer questions about such issues and so she did what most Bollywood heroines do - maintain a diplomatic silence that only serves to make them look hypocritical.
It isn't just Mukerji who has kept mum on Prasad's case. While some have been prompt at pointing out the young actress' fall from grace and one section has furiously lashed out at them for not revealing the names of her clients and just going after her, the actors Prasad has worked with and the wider film fraternity has decided to sit on the fence.
Considering how so many aspiring actors enter film industries all over the country and are often exploited by power brokers within the industry, you'd think that the least that B-town's rich and famous could do is be sympathetic to an actor who felt she had no option but to resort to becoming a sex worker. However, there's been very little by way of a public show of support for Prasad.
Shabana Azmi, who is extremely vocal about women's rights and had also worked with Prasad in Makdee, has said nothing about the case. Aamir Khan, the part-time social crusader, is too busy posting Hrithik Roshan's Bang Bang videos on Twitter and working on PK to say anything about Prasad's case. (Besides, the next Satyamev Jayate season isn't reaching our television screens any time soon so why bother? He's already got ads running on television that claim the television show is removing gender bias in India.)
Amitabh Bachchan had cheerfully tweeted about fighting abuse against women when Priyanka Chopra appeared on Kaun Banega Crorepati to promote strong women and her film Mary Kom. There's been no comment from the star about Prasad. Farhan Akhtar and his MARD campaign would have you sport a moustache or buy their merchandise, but there's not a word in support of Prasad from the actor. While it's good to know that Bollywood celebrities are feeling charitable towards victims of the floods in Kashmir, we can't help wondering why there's so little charity among our actors for someone closer to home. After all, Prasad's statement makes it clear that it was financial duress that made her turn to sex work as an option.
The heartening news is that there are exceptions. Actress Sakshi Tanwar, who played Prasad's onscreen mom in Ekta Kapoor's popular soap Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, and filmmaker Hansal Mehta have both made statements in support of Prasad. While Tanwar has been concerned enough to talk to Prasad's mother and written an open letter to her onscreen daughter, Mehta has said that he wants to offer the actress a role in his film.
"We, the people, are so eager to pass judgments and share opinions about her on social media, but none of us have walked the hard yards in her shoes…so, do we actually have a right to judge her yet? I don’t know her reasons and problems, and I don’t know any solutions either… All I know is that she is kept in a remand home and that she has apparently given a statement accepting it. At least she has been brave enough to accept it (as per the reports)," Sakshi wrote.
We can only hope that others in the industry would take a leaf out of Tanwar and Mehta's books.
Updated Date: Sep 09, 2014 18:56:19 IST
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