Needless controversy is kicked up over Deepika Padukone’s visit last week to JNU to show solidarity with the alleged victims of violence between two groups of students a few days earlier.
Her being a well-known actor does not strip her of her rights as a citizen. She is welcome to take sides in any public controversy. And no one has any business either questioning that right or to rebuke her for the exercise of the same.
Social media trolls targeting her may well be the norm given the freedom internet bestows on anyone with an access to digital tools, but it is unwise to ascribe blame to a particular party.
Central Minister Smriti Irani sounded peeved when she complained that Padukone had chosen to stand by those in JNU who had attacked fellow women students on their private parts, or wanted destruction of India. Even then, Padukone cannot be criticised for choosing the side she wants to be seen showing solidarity with.
Also, it is churlish to demand that people boycott her latest film. It should be tested on its cinematic merits regardless of the actor’s ideological predilections. Given the felt need of the mass media to keep the news-cycle churning 24x7, some sections instigate politicians, and others claiming proximity to this or that party, to say astounding things. Maturity demands we learn to take these passing trifles in our collective stride. Let us judge Padukone on her on-screen performance, not what she does, or doesn’t, off-screen. We wish more celebrities will have the courage to take sides, right or wrong in public matters.