Karan Johar, Uber Bollywood producer, director and a friend, philosopher guide to all the who’s who in Mumbai, was at the receiving end of terrible cyber bullying after an innocuous announcement about writing a children’s book.
Knowing the infamous IT cell, the bullying originated from them. But, Johar who has also been photographed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he led a star troupe to the Prime Minister’s house for a photo-shoot and has also received a Padma award, is incidental in the current muscle flexing playing out on social media.
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The real story is a trifecta - an attempt to win the Bihar elections on the emotive issue of son of the soil Sushant Singh Rajput being maltreated in Maharashtra. Don’t believe me, see the first campaign poster issued by the BJP, which has a picture of the late actor with “justice for Sushant” emblazoned.
The second reason is to take revenge on the Thackeray family and the Shiv Sena who dumped the BJP and their alliance and formed the government with the Congress and the NCP.
The third and most important reason for which actor Kangana Ranaut makes serial daily accusations of Bollywood being “anti-national” is a Sangh Parivar fantasy - to take control of the Mumbai film industry - India’s biggest soft power, which has the power to influence hearts and minds.
The Sangh has for a long time fulminated about the three top superstars - Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan being Muslims. This is a chance to teach them a lesson. Look at the familiar Sangh tropes being deployed. Aamir Khan was hugely attacked on social media for a photograph with Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan and called a “traitor”.
Ranaut compared Mumbai to “Pakistan occupied Kashmir” after the Sena attacked her for abusing the Mumbai police.
Notice the straight conflation with Pakistan short hand for Muslims. And, imagine if any of the Khans had made the comparison. Police cases would have been filed and BJP leaders would have been queuing up to attack them.
Ranaut, who is also a Padma awardee, makes daily unhinged attacks against her rivals and enemies, who are petrified into silence and gets unhindered access to public platforms. What started as her crusade for Rajput has now deteriorated to allegations sans any substantial proof.
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She has asked Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and other actors to take a blood test as she labels them “cocaine users”. Interestingly, none of Ranaut’s targets have spoken up except for the Sena being equally abusive to her.
So Bollywood which was seen as a final frontier, one of the few places in India where your religion did not matter, your talent and box office did, is now being put through the purity tests of the Sangh.
Like the rest of India now, superstars are being put through the wringer, especially the ones who were suspected to be less than enthusiastic about Modi.
Bullying Bollywood into submission would be a huge asset for the BJP. It also helps that they can attack Uddhav Thackeray and his minister son Aditya Thackeray. The Bihar elections will also be a win-win. And, what about Justice for Sushant? Well that can wait.