Forecast correct, rare Bolly voice gets trolled
Uday Chopra's political prognosis
Chandigarh: Bollywood, which often balks at taking a stand on political issues, has found an unfamiliar voice in actor-producer Uday Chopra.
Uday, the younger son of the late filmmaker Yash Chopra, had posted a Twitter repartee on Tuesday on the possible outcome of the efforts at government-formation in Karnataka.
"I just googled the governor of Karnataka_ en.m.wikipedia.org/Wiki/Vajubhai_... BJP guy and RSS hmmm I guess we all know what's gonna happen," Uday, 45, had tweeted at 5.01pm on Tuesday.
As it turned out, in a little over 24 hours, Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala, who had vacated his seat for Narendra Modi when he was chief minister, invited the BJP to form the government although the Congress-Janata Dal Secular combine had more seats than the majority mark and had wanted to prove its strength.
Uday's forecast was greeted with a barrage of vitriolic trolling, making personal attacks and taunting him for his not-so-successful acting career. He replied with grace and dignity.
When Twitter user Meenakshi Langer wrote, "a looser (sic) should keep mouth shut when he has no knowledge about anything except his baap ka paissa", Uday replied: "Not really. In a democracy a loser is allowed to have opinions too."
Several other tweets spewed venom.
" Jaana (expletive) teri baat koi sunta hai kya dharti ke bojh," tweeted one Nilesh Joshi.
Another user, Sanjeet Ranjan, tweeted: "(Expletive) dharti ke bojh tera (expletive) ho raha hai. Ek baar Kolkata ki taraf bhi to dekh (expletives)."
Some mocked the actor over the Dhoom films, the Yash Raj franchise where Uday plays the delightful sidekick to supercop Abhishek Bachchan.
" Abhi DHOOM rozgar yojna band hai Uday bhai MGNREGA join kar lo," tweeted one Abhinav Jha.
Another Twitter user had a word of advice. "As per the Indian Law the party which gets maximum seats is invited first to claim for making government... I believe rather then comments you need to read and learn first."
Not losing his cool, Uday reasoned: "That's not what happened in Goa and Manipur. I watch the news just like you."
Yet another Twitter user claimed there was no Wikipedia page on Uday when she searched for it.
"I just googled Uday Chopra. Found out there is no such page on Wikipedia. Hmmm I guess we all know only celebrities get featured there," she tweeted, though her claim is wrong. Uday has a Wikipedia page and is also mentioned in the popular site IMDb.
Although an earlier tweet by Uday that said he was hooked to the "goings on in Karnataka" had garnered a mere 39 responses, the 5.01pm tweet elicited 2,700 replies over the next two hours.
"Ha! So many trolls on my timeline suddenly. I agree I am no one of consequence but I am still an Indian and I care deeply about my country," Uday acknowledged.
The actor, who says he tweets on "usually rubbish stuff", is not known to have taken a stand on political issues in the past.
While Bollywood stars have usually always maintained silence on key issues - be it the Emergency or the current political situation - journalists, especially women and women's rights activists, and others who have opposed the political ideology of the current ruling dispensation have been subjected to verbal abuse and threats of rape and murder.
Two of Uday's colleagues in the film fraternity, Richa Chadha and Swara Bhaskar, have been frequently subjected to vile, abusive tweets for their frank opinion on the policies being pursued by the Centre and the hooliganism unleashed by Hindutva forces across the country.
Last week, Richa had received rape and death threats for her tweet calling for saving Hinduism from "Hindutvawallahs" and also making public the fact that she was dating actor Ali Faisal.
Swara too has had her share of online attacks. She and her Veere Di Wedding co-stars Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan have come under fire for raising their voice against the Kathua rape and murder.
The actresses had posted pictures with the placard: "I am Hindustan. I am Ashamed. #JusticeForOurChild. 8 years old. Gangraped. Murdered. In 'Devi-sthaan temple.#Kathua."
Some well-known supporters of the BJP, including members from the film fraternity, had criticised the three actresses and called for a boycott of their upcoming film.
In contrast to Bollywood, Hollywood has never shied away from voicing resentment at the political powers that be. Last October, Harper Bazaar, the American fashion magazine, had carried a list of 50 celebrities in the US who had stood up against US President Donald Trump. The list had the likes of Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Ben Stiller, Alec Baldwin and Richard Gere.
In India, the number of celebrities who have spoken out against the various socio-religious ills would not even touch double digits.
Prolific actor Prakash Raj, who has been openly critical of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently spoke about how Hindi film offers had dried up since he spoke up.
Journalist Barkha Dutt has come out in support of Uday. "Welcome to our world Uday! And pay no attention. You have every right to your view. Ignore the noise," she tweeted.
The only actor to have backed Uday is Richa. "That's like my good morning! You're a tax paying, voting citizen and within your rights to express freely!" she tweeted.
Uday fittingly summed up the current situation. "How dare I have an opinion opposed to yours," he tweeted at 6.57pm on Tuesday.
His tweets after that have been on food ideas.