Actor Deepika Padukone's political statement has divided the nation. The actor expressed solidarity with JNU students who were allegedly assaulted by a masked mob on Sunday, by appearing at a student-led protest on Tuesday. Deepika's first film as producer, Chhapaak -- she also stars in the lead role -- is due for release on Friday.
Deepika told NDTV in an interview, "I feel proud that we are not scared of expressing ourselves... it is nice to see people coming out on to the streets and elsewhere to voice their opinions." The film industry, and Deepika, has often been criticised for not taking stands on political issues.
Deepika, who was previously threatened with violence for starring in the film Padmaavat, told AajTak in an interview, "What I wanted to say I said it two years ago when Padmaavat was released. What I am seeing today, it pains me. I hope it doesn't become the new normal. That anyone can say anything and they can get away with it. I fear and I'm sad. This is not the foundation of our country."
Following her appearance at Tuesday's protest, hashtags both in support of and against Deepika began trending on Twitter. While members of the film industry such as Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Swara Bhasker, Neeraj Ghaywan, Anubhav Sinha, Nikkhil Advani, Vikrant Massey, Simi Garewal, Shabana Azmi and others came out in full support of Deepika, others called for a boycott on Chhapaak.
Anurag changed his Twitter profile picture to a shot of Deepika at the JNU protests. "Let's not forget she is also the producer of the films .. stakes are even higher . Mad respect for @deepikapadukone," he wrote. He also urged audiences to show their support for the actor by buying tickets to see her film. His Sacred Games collaborator Vikramaditya Motwane wrote, "Deepika's stand is going to make a lot of young people question their parents, their peers and their government. Hopefully they'll go out and educate themselves. And not parrot everything authority tells them. She's a true hero."
BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga tweeted a photo of Deepika, and called for a boycott of her film. Vivek Agnihotri, who has made several films, made an outlandish statement, without citing sources. He wrote, "I am told that it was suggested to #DeepikaPadukone to go and stand next to #Nirbhaya's parents for a photo op. But last minute she changed her plan because #Nirbahaya wasn't trending whereas #JNU was. This is how it works, my dear friends."
Some Twitter users shared screengrabs of cancelled Chhapaak tickets, many of which appear to be the same exact image. The film, based on the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, is due out on Friday. A number of people tweeted in support of the film, making the hashtag #ChhapakDekhoTapaakSe trend.
Earlier, celebrities joined protesters in Mumbai as they protested JNU attacks. Swara Bhasker, Sudhir Mishra, Rekha Bhardwaj, Anubhav Sinha, Dia Mirza, Rahul Dholakia, Ali Fazal, Neeraj Ghaywan, Reema Kagti, Hansal Mehta, Vikramaditya Motwane, Saurabh Shukla and Rajkumar Gupta were among those who were a part of the protest.