Bollywood star Deepika Padukone's appearance in the protest against the violence carried out on students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has sent out a powerful message that the thriving film industry has a voice.
Deepika joined the protesters against a shocking campus attack allegedly by a mob of rival students linked to Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
A leading Bollywood star's image, standing behind protesters charged with sedition and chanting slogans against the government, was hugely symbolic, reported the Hindustan Times.
Within minutes, social media erupted with a frenzy that only a Bollywood star can whip up in movie-mad India.
The 34-year-old actress has 26 million followers on Twitter and 42 million on Instagram, according to the BBC. She made it to the Forbes' 10th highest-paid actress in the world list in 2016.
While many, particularly supporters of the government, saw in her visit a publicity stunt ahead of a movie release, this is unconvincing.
By associating with JNU – which is the subject of polarised opinions – she risked alienating a set of her admirers. Deepika has also risked antagonising the current regime, putting her career at risk.
She has also risked vicious trolling, as can be seen in the social media attack against her. On Twitter, rival hashtags asking people to both support and boycott her new film began trending.
However, Deepika is not alone raising voice against controversial political issues. The protesting voices are on the rise inside the Mumbai film industry, which is generally known for its silence and lack of engagement with contemporary political concerns.
Successive governments in the past – especially led by the right-wing Shiv Sena party in Mumbai – openly threatened filmmakers for making films they did not like.
However, Deepika is not the only Bollywood heavyweight who has spoken out against Narendra Modi's politics, said the BBC report.
Several young female actors and well-known directors have attended protests against a controversial new citizenship law and the JNU campus attack.
Anurag Kashyap, one of India's best-known directors, told a news network last night that Narendra Modi's government had "divided the country into two kinds of people – the anti-nationals and the patriots".