Siddharth criticises Thackeray trailer, stands up for #MeToo on Twitter: Decoding Tamil actor's social media persona
Multilingual actor Siddharth, who is known for his bold and often controversial remarks on social media, has recently been in the news again.
This time it was the furor over his tweets after the release of the trailer of the upcoming film on Bal Thackeray. Both the Hindi and Marathi versions of the trailer were released and it was the latter in particular which caught the actor’s ire. He tweeted:
The conveniently un-subtitled #Marathi trailer of #Thackeray. So much hate sold with such romance and heroism (Music, tiger roars, applause, jingoism). No solidarity shown to millions of South Indians and immigrants who make #Mumbai great. #HappyElections! https://t.co/F13jMcIRle
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 27, 2018
And, why was he so angry? Because of a phrase which was continuously repeated in the Marathi trailer. It was the slogan "Lungi uttao pungi bajao".
Nawazuddin has repeated 'Uthao lungi bajao pungi' (lift the lungi and *'#$ him) in the film #Thackeray. Clearly hate speech against South Indians... In a film glorifying the person who said it! Are you planning to make money out of this propaganda? Stop selling hate! Scary stuff!
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 26, 2018
Sidharth’s remarks stirred up quite a controversy. While most agreed with him that the phrase was insulting to South Indians, they also pointed out that it was exactly what Thackeray wanted it to be. These were words used quite freely by Thackeray in real life and any biopic which aimed to give a true representation of the man would have to incorporate them into the script. Others pointed out that similarly Tamil films had shown violent scenes of anti-Hindi agitations which could also be interpreted as hate mongering. And then came Siddharth’s next controversial remark:
Poetic justice is when a Muslim actor from UP gets to play the part of the revered Marathi bigot in a propaganda film. — Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) December 26, 2018
Some months prior to this, Siddharth had got another round of flak when he tweeted about the passing away of DMK leader. He was not the only one who praised him. But he got trolled all the same when he said:
The Last #Tamil Titan has fallen. Former TN CM #MKarunanidhi was an incomparable man. #TamilNadu has lost at once its greatest contemporary political and creative enigma. Our beautiful language #Tamil will miss #Kalaignar #Karunanidhi This void he has left will take ages to fill.
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) August 7, 2018
Again while most agreed that Karunanidhi was indeed a Titan, they said he was by no means the last or only Titan. When the MeToo movement hit the Tamil film industry, Siddharth jumped into the fray. In October he stood up for singer Chinnmayi who accused lyricist Vairmuthu of sexual harassment.
Multiple women are speaking out against Kavignar #Vairamuthu. Without judging anyone, they must be heard. When somebody of @Chinmayi's stature who has so much to lose, stands by the accusers, that's huge! There will be investigation. First step #ListenToTheAccuser #MeToo #Timesup — Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) October 9, 2018
He also tweeted:
The same people who are trying to dismiss the #MeToo #TimesUp movement today will tomorrow ask you.. "where were you during #MeToo? Most dangerous fellows. Beware of them. #ListenToTheAccuser. More and more predators will be outed. More and more survivors will get closure.
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) October 16, 2018
And, when film maker Leena Manimekali tweeted:
I am gathering courage to write more of my experiences.Let me start with https://t.co/9G1IKtuGis director who locked me up in the car when I started as a television anchor is Susi Ganesan.Hope more voices join me to be heard. #metoo https://t.co/GKPaJCQ4Df — Leena Manimekalai (@LeenaManimekali) October 14, 2018
Siddharth stood up for her too. He said he was with her and that her courage would inspire others to come out too. A little later he revealed that Susi Ganesan was threatening him for supporting Leena, but, he tweeted he was supporting her now more than ever:
#SusiGanesan spoke to my aged father on the phone and threatened us with dire consequences if I continue to stand by Leena. So I just want everyone to know that now more than ever... I Stand With #LeenaManimekalai. Stay strong and fight the good fight sister! #MeToo #TimesUp https://t.co/aMNfxXm46M
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) October 17, 2018
A few months before that Siddharth’s Malayalam debut film Kammara Sambahavam was released. In that he acted with the controversial actor Dileep who was accused of orchestrating the rape of a leading actress. That specific incident had created a great upheaval and even led to the forming of a women in Cinema Collective by some of the leading women film makers, actors and singers, editors and others in the Malayalam film industry. In anticipation of the film’s release, Siddharth took to twitter and praised Dileep.
#Dileep as Kammaran ... A most complicated and layered character; his wrinkles hide many layers of the truth. #Kammarasambhavam ... Directed by Rathish Ambat. Written by Murali Gopy. Almost ready! pic.twitter.com/KCFaEh5bt0 — Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) February 7, 2018
Some of his fans, especially women got particularly upset by his tweets where he heaped praise on “Dileep Etta”. One of them tweeted
I get the need to promote & appreciate the film, many people worked on it and they deserve to be proud of it. Couldn't it be done without promoting & highlighting THAT individual? As a fan, I admire you for bravely standing up on many social issues. This is pretty disappointing!
— Samantha (@samantha_389) February 8, 2018
So, who is the true Siddharth? The cute boy who made his debut in the 2003 Tamil hit film Boys? The young man who acted in Rang De Basanti and ended up dating his co-star Soha Ali Khan? The valiant, socially conscious actor who during the Chennai floods of 2015 took to the streets to help people, organised relief efforts and got his hands and feet dirty working in flood hit areas?
He is outspoken on twitter and his tweets certainly do not display a run-of-the-mill attitude. He has often been called a “chocolate boy’ both for his looks and the roles he takes, and also maybe for the number of high profile women he has dated.
Is he politically ambitious? Maybe not as of now. But in Tamil Nadu politics and films are so closely intertwined that one can never predict if and when he might take the jump.
Updated Date: Jan 03, 2019 13:11:40 IST