Director Luv Ranjan and Deepika Padukone
Director Luv Ranjan and Deepika Padukone. Image Credit: IANS and AP

Deepika Padukone has sparked an online movement with the hashtag #NotMyDeepika among her legion of fans after she was spotted leaving tainted director Luv Ranjan’s home last Friday, possibly to discuss a role in his upcoming film also starring Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

Her fans are enraged that the award-winning actress — known for taking up causes such as mental health, equal pay and women empowerment — is possibly contemplating signing on a project with a director who has been accused of sexual misconduct. Ranjan is notorious for his misogynistic comedies such as ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnamma’ series and ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ that featured his leading ladies as man-eating, controlling vixens. The narrative around Ranjan’s controversial films, that perform tremendously well at the box office, is always strikingly similar: Women are out to control men, while the men are helpless and vulnerable to their calculating antics.

“Being the top actress of your country you have many people looking up to you, it is your responsibility to set the right example. Are you even aware of how you are gonna promote someone who has sexually harassed other women by working in his film? #NotMyDeepika,” posted Ria, one of Padukone’s ardent fans.

“I always believed you were better than other actresses of our country as you kicked out all the #MeToo accused people in MAMI association, as well as stood up for equal payment and other women empowering movements. But you’re going to let it all go for a movie? #NotMyDeepika,” she added.

Many are disappointed that an actress of Padukone’s calibre has chosen to support a filmmaker accused of sexual misconduct, a charge that’s yet to be proven. In October 2018, Ranjan was accused of sexual misconduct by an actor who claimed that she was harassed on the sets of his 2011 film Pyaar Ka Punchnamma. He denied the allegation, and his co-star of his several hits Nushrat Bharucha came to his defence.

Akash Kumar, another fan of Padukone on Twitter, posted: “On a side note if it were for any other actor or actress there would be zero backlash because most of them have zero credibility. Deepika has built a reputation for herself and her ideals. Her fans don’t just stand Deepika the actor but the Deepika the human being #notmydeepika.”

A few of her fans even urged Padukone’s sister Anisha Padukone, a golf player, to dissuade Padukone from signing on a project with Ranjan.

A Twitter user, Nikita, posted: “Please @anishapadukone read the #NotMyDeepika tweets and knock some sense into her. We are so disappointed.”

Her fans also claimed that they have always put her on a pedestal and that her actions has the power to influence millions. They have always held her to a standard superior to other Bollywood stars, they claim. Her fan Mashal posted: “@deepikapadukone Being called the no. 1 actress always gave me a sense of pride but this is the first time im actually scared of this very fact? Imagine her actually giving luv ranjan the green light, enabling a sex offender and endorsing everything she stood against. #notmydeepika.”

It’s not the first time that Bollywood actors have chosen to work with alleged sexual offenders. Ajay Devgn, who has reportedly signed on Ranjan’s project that Padukone is likely to be a part of, was under fire for featuring Alok Nath, another name that cropped up in Bollywood’s #MeToo movement, in his hit comedy ‘De De Pyaar De’. Compared to Devgn, Padukone enjoys tremendous goodwill among her fans.