As the entire country was hovering over exit polls amid the Lok Sabha Elections, Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi took to social media and shared a meme featuring his ex-flame Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Salman Khan (who was dating her before Vivek). While the actor gave out a disclaimer of it only being a joke and something to laugh at, many didn’t take it well.
The post referred to Salman and Aishwarya’s relationship as the ‘opinion poll’, Vivek and Aishwarya‘s affair as the ‘exit poll’ and her current family with husband Abhishek and daughter Aaradhya as the ‘final result.’
The backlash was clearly anticipated. Major personalities like Sonam Kapoor, Urmila Matondkar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Ashoke Pandit among others, slammed the actor for his distasteful comment. The National Commission for Women also sent a notice Oberoi and asked him to give an explanation for sharing an “insulting” and “misogynist” post.
24 hours later Vivek deleted the tweet and apologised on the same. “Someone sent me a creative meme where I was being made fun of. I just wrote, ‘Ha ha,’ and appreciated the other person. When someone makes fun of you, you should laugh and not take it so seriously”, he said.
“Sometimes what appears to be funny and harmless at first glance to one, may not be so to others. I have spent the last 10 years empowering more than 2000 underprivileged girls, I can’t even think of being disrespectful to any woman ever,” Vivek tweeted. “Even if one woman is offended by my reply to the meme, it calls for remedial action. Apologies. Tweet deleted,” he added.
There are many layers to this situation. Let’s break it down. In a recent interview quoted in Bollywood Hungama, when Oberoi was asked about which question he would ask Salman Khan, Vivek was quick to answer saying, “Do you (Salman Khan) truly believe in forgiveness?” Going back, we know the two do not share a good history with the common factor being Aishwarya. Also to mention that the actor’s career had been trashed out of Bollywood for a long time, and the PM biopic is sort of his comeback.
The main question that sticks out, why is Vivek Oberoi trying so hard to mend bridges with people who are least bothered of his existence. Why after all these years? Does starring in a biopic featuring the Prime Minister of India (also the massive support from the ruling party) allow one to let go of themselves in the public eye. Other than one incident in the past for which he apologised, why did Vivek find the need to dig out his past in the most disastrous manner? A meme. Vivek doesn’t seem to be a loose cannon who didn’t expect this issue to be ignored easily.
All in all what is clearly visible, is that the actor is hungry for publicity, and with his film all set to release this Friday, he simply needs some headlines to stay in the game. While the people who are actually a part of his meme aren’t adding fuel to the fire, others have managed to make it the news of the day. How is it related to his film? “Sometimes didi demand people to be put in jail for meme, and now some people want Vivek Oberoi to be behind bars. They couldn’t stop my film but now want to stop me. This is kiddish”, Vivek was quoted saying.
As they say, it is not easy to be funny. Here’s the problem with Oberoi’s statement when it comes to a larger interest, especially being an influential personality. Dragging a minor/child in this case may affect their future. He himself being the father of two, doesn’t reason out his behaviour on social media. All of this on the internet- a platform that is easily accessible to even kids these days. What the actor doesn’t get is that a joke or a meme in this case is something that is enjoyed by a tyrant group or person. This invisible power to take a jibe on social media doesn’t give the creator the sole authority to call it a joke and dictate the other party as well to take it as a joke.