When it comes to politicians, B-town celebs often become the usual targets. Some claim it is to gain more limelight.
Cinema and politics have often shared a love-hate relationship — at times they are the coy lovebirds but more often than not, they are at loggerheads. Whatever the case may be, comments on celebrities always seem to manage to grab a lot of eyeballs.
Recently, a comment on actor-parliamentarian Hema Malini has landed a Maharashtra lawmaker in trouble. Bacchu Kadu, an independent legislator, was making a point on farmer suicides in the state when he referred to the dream-girl-turned-BJP MP. “People say farmers commit suicide because they drink...This is not correct...who doesn’t drink alcohol? Hema Malini drinks every day but she didn’t commit suicide? (sic)” said Bachhu, originally Omprakash Babarao.
But this is not a case in isolation? There have been other instances in the past when Bollywood celebrities have been soft targets when it comes to politics. Sushilkumar Shinde taunted Jaya Bachchan who has been a senior Rajya Sabha MP by snubbing her on a matter that was ‘serious’ and not ‘filmy’ (read frivolous). However, later he had to apologise for his remark. Incidentally, Amitabh Bachchan also faced a lot of criticism during his stint as an MP from Allahabad for three years. On the other hand, several personalities from the film and television fraternity have had wildly successful careers in politics. Just take MP Kirron Kher, or our current textile minister Smriti Irani for instance. Not to forget, Tamil Nadu’s beloved Amma, Jayalalithaa was from their film industry.
“In this male-dominated mindset, where they feel they can say anything and get away with it is most unfortunate,” says BJP legislator Shaina NC. Pointing at the Bacchu’s comment, she insists it was uncalled for. She further says, “Whenever you put such allegations on a woman, on her character or her conduct, substantiate it with proof.”
Admitting that Bollywood actors are often soft targets, she explains, “I’m finding it shocking because Bacchu Kadu is also a good Rajput mass leader, so I don’t see a reason for him use Hema Malini’s name to show that he has arrived. It’s unfortunate that celebs are used in such context just because they are well-known and come with a huge following.”
Priya Dutt, former Member of Parliament from Mumbai and daughter of Sunil Dutt, claims that it is fame that turns celebrities into soft targets. Speaking not only from her own experience, but also drawing on the fact that her father happens to be one of those rare personalities to have found a successful balance in his lifetime between a career as an actor and as a minister, she says, “Hemaji is an icon in herself, she cannot be just seen in context of Bollywood. But such sad politics especially coming from politicians is unacceptable. How can someone simply discuss someone else’s personal life in this way? If she is bad at her work, then criticise her, but getting into someone’s personal life isn’t acceptable.”
When contacted, Ms Malini, a BJP Member of Parliament from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, seemed unperturbed by the remarks. “It’s not worth talking about this comment made by so and so. That’s why I am keeping quiet. He needs publicity and he has taken a short cut. Feel sad for such immature people. God Bless.”
While she has decided to stay quiet and avoid the incident, the Maharashtra Women’s Commission chairman Vijaya Rahatkar announced on Friday that she would be sitting with her committee to decide on what action to be taken against Bacchu.
(with inputs from Pooja Salvi)