The Hindi film industry is perhaps the biggest example of India’s soft power. Wherever you go in the world, you find unlikely fans of stars and films. The soft power that sways over hearts and minds is what the Sangh covets.
And, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who behaves and is treated as the Sangh superstar (Madison Square Garden and other events involving stadium-filled crowds) knows the power of the film industry. Recall that soft ball interview by actor Akshay Kumar of Modi on the eve of the 2019 election.
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The BJP’s agenda is clear. The superstars should ideally align themselves with the BJP and be prepared to be used for electoral fodder or they will be attacked relentlessly by the government and its army of enforcer trolls.
This has now forced a huge split in the Mumbai film industry because while some B and C grade actors have jumped on board the BJP, the real superstars, the trinity of the Khans - Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman - have kept the BJP and Modi at arm’s length.
This long preamble was to provide you context to view the latest attack on Aamir Khan and his meeting with Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan this week. Khan is shooting his film Lal Singh Chaddha in Turkey.
The angry reaction was instant. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy demanded that Khan be quarantined for two weeks post his return from Turkey and the BJP’s IT cell went berserk trending attacks on Khan. The panna pramukh channels ran frothing at the mouth debates where one poisonous panelist aligned to the BJP said: “When Khan talked about his wife leaving India in 2015, then may be he must have thought of going to Turkey and settling down there.”
This is not the first time Khan has been terrorised by the BJP. As I had exposed in my investigative book “I am a troll” Inside the BJP’s Secret Digital Army, Khan was hounded in an organised and systematic way and Snapdeal was asked to drop him as brand ambassador via an organised campaign.
Post that Khan had retreated like the other two supremos into silence. Sources close to Khan told me that he was “shocked and hurt by the attacks since as far as he knows India has friendly relations with Turkey. It was a courtesy call blown up to unreal proportions. This is the politics that they do. And, it has been going on for a while now. Khan prefers not to join the debate.”
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The silence of the Khans, especially Shah Rukh who used to be vocal on various issues before the present dispensation, is particular telling.
The way that the tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajput, 34, has been used as a bludgeon against those perceived as anti BJP is surreal. Actor Kangana Ranaut, particularly, has been making near unhinged accusations against actors unconnected to the death such as Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Javed Akhtar and Sara Ali Khan.
The fact that those facing these intemperate attacks have stayed mum while Ranaut gets prime time play for her serial accusations tells you the real story.
Those who will not act to the BJP’s script have no role in the film industry.