A political slugfest broke out between Trinamul Congress and BJP leaders over comments made by actor Amitabh Bachchan and a song by playback artiste Arijit Singh at the Kolkata International Film Festival.
The bitter war of words started with actor Amitabh Bachchan's comments that "questions being raised on freedom of expression" and struck a high note when Arijit Singh sang "Rang de tu mohe gerua" (colour be saffron), which many linked to the ongoing controversy over a saffron costume worn by Deepika Padukone in Shah Rukh Khan starrer Pathaan. That this came after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked him to sing added to the debate.
"Amitabh Bachchan's words couldn't have been more prophetic since they were spoken in Calcutta, with Mamata Banerjee on the dais. It is like holding a mirror to the tyrant," said BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya.
Actor and Trinamul MP Nussrat Jahan was quick to respond. "Signs of tyrannical rule include banning movies, detaining journalists, and punishing common people for speaking the truth", she said on Twitter. She alleged that the BJP was "capping" freedoms "while Mr Amit Malviya is busy accusing others".
The song, "Rang de tu mohe gerua", is from Khan's another movie, Dilwale, featuring him with Kajol.
"It was an evening of realisations. From Mr Bachchan to Arijit, who reminded Mamata Banerjee, in her backyard, that the future of Bengal is saffron...," tweeted Malviya.
He said Banerjee had failed to invite Mithun Chakraborty, son of Bengal, for the film festival. He also pointed out that she had appointed Shah Rukh Khan as brand ambassador over West Bengal's own Sourav Ganguly.
The latest row, again bringing politics and Bollywood at loggerheads, began with the BJP and other Hindutva organisations' calls to boycott 'Pathaan', particularly highlighting their "saffron" and "green" attire in the song 'Besharam Rang'.
In Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, ruled by the BJP, its leaders have threatened to have the movie banned.
In his address at the film festival, Khan said that positive people like him will stay alive. He also decried how social media is often driven by certain narrowness of views, “making it divisive and destructive.” On Friday, TMC spokesperson Riju Dutta tweeted an old video of Union minister Smriti Irani wearing a saffron attire apparently during the Femina Miss India contest.
Retorting, BJP leader Locket Chatterjee tweeted, "Shame on Mamata Banerjee for appointing such misogynist men as TMC's national spokesperson. He has no respect for women and the choices they make in life. They resent successful women and their rise. Men like him are responsible for rising crime against women."