When Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar uploaded an Instagram video of a Saturday night party, little did he know that he and his friends would land in a controversy.
Johar’s video that went viral, showed his friends and Bollywood A-listers including Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora, Shahid Kapoor, filmmaker Ayan Mukerji among others. It was captioned “Saturday night vibes”.
The video that was posted on Sunday went viral. It quickly became the subject of debate after a politician took to Twitter to point out that the stars looked drugged.
The video was downloaded by fans and posted on other social media channels too.
On Tuesday, a minister from India political party Shiromani Akali Dal, Majinder Sirsa shared the video, calling it ‘Udta Bollywood’ referencing a movie, Udta Punjab, that was about the rampant drug abuse in the Indian state of Punjab — a state where Sirsa’s party rules.
Sirsa tweeted: “#UDTABollywood — Fiction Vs Reality. Watch how the high and mighty of Bollywood proudly flaunt their drugged state. I raise my voice against #DrugAbuse by these stars. RT if you too feel disgusted @shahidkapoor @deepikapadukone @arjunk2 @Varun_dvn @karanjohar @vickykaushal09.”
The actors are yet to respond, but Congress politician Milind Deora, whose wife was also at the party, tweeted in support of Karan Johar. He posted: “My wife was also present that evening (and is in the video). Nobody was in a ‘drugged state’, so stop spreading lies and defaming people you don’t know! I hope you will show the courage to tender an unconditional apology.”
Refusing to backtrack or apologise, Sisra, who is a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) asked Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor to undergo a dope test to prove innocence.
Social media reactions
While many tweeps began speculating if the stars were drugged or not, many others said it was a private party and the stars looked fine and that the entire debate was over a non-issue.
However, there were a few Twitterati who slammed the celebrities for the alleged drug abuse and tweeted in favour of Sirsa’s post.
@PiyushSingh83 tweeted to @MumbaiPolice: “Found a video where Bollywood stars are seen consuming illegal drugs. Required you take serious action and set an example for the society. If not then stop fooling ‘Law is equal for everyone’. Dope test is mandatory, you can’t give free escape.”
And, @aparnark30 posted: “Peeps going berserk on @karanjohar’s video... guys, the so called ‘powder’ next to @vickykaushal09 vanishes as the camera moves. Rewind and see for yourself. It’s just a reflection of light.”
Ishita Yadav, the Parliamentary Secretary to Member of Parliament Feroze Varun Gandhi, tweeted: “Let them be stoned or drunk. Why does it bother you?”
Sirsa replied: “They are public figures! They are called ‘stars’ and they enjoy many privileges. Don’t they lecture us on every issue from their verified Twitter handles? So today they are answerable to every Indian for their drug-effected stoned look as visible in this video.”
Yadav hit back: “Were you there? Was someone you know there? You can’t go around attacking people based on conjecture.”
B-town chimes in
Speaking to news agency IANS, rapper Hard Kaur said: “...nowadays the industry maxim is if you don’t do coke, you ain’t cool. Doing drugs has become a show off factor. Cocaine, after all, is an expensive drug.”
Kaur states she is talking about “almost everybody I know... just everywhere”, and it includes “women and men”, she adds. “It’s like a gang versus gang thing. The ones that stay together snort together.”
Popular veejay Nikhil Chinapa doesn’t deny the use of drugs is rampant in the film and music industries, but feels it is wrong to only single out these communities. He said: “People who take drugs don’t come from a specific sphere of life, and it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, sportsmen or industrialist, music or actor or entrepreneur.”
Model-actor Rajneesh Duggall feels the increasingly easy availability of drugs is more threatening than reports of celebrities caught in such incidents. “Drugs are available everywhere. It is up to the individual to indulge in such habits. Drug abuse is not profession-based. It is a personal choice, and everyone... should keep in mind that if it is banned, it shouldn’t be done.”