A number of celebrities from Bollywood have finally come out in support of the protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Many joined the peaceful protesters on August Kranti Maidan in Mumbai yesterday on 19 December. Reports suggest the turn up is estimated to be around two lakh.
Among those who participated in the protest were Farhan Akhtar, Swara Bhaskar, Anurag Kashyap, Huma Qureshi, Jim Sarbh, Nandita Das, Kabir Khan, his anchor-wife Mini Mathur, Abhinav Sinha, Neeraj Ghaywan, Nikkhil Advani, Javed Jaffery, Arjun Mathur, Sushant Singh, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. Some of them even went up on stage and gave slogans and speeches.
Silence from Bollywood on Delhi Police crack down and violence on students of Jamia Millia Islamia peacefully protesting against the contentious CAA on 15 December has been conspicuous. While personalities like Anurag Kashyap, Anubhav Sinha, Richa Chaddha, Swara Bhaskar, Syani Gupta were the first ones to raise voice against the blatant curb of freedom of expression, they were gradually joined by other members of their fraternity.
Other prominent figures like Shabana Azmi and Hansal Mehta could not join the people on the ground due to certain reasons but lent their solidarity with them. Mehta, who is out of town shooting for a film, took to his Twitter account and wrote,” As a director, I, unfortunately, don’t have the mandate to cancel the shoot. But I am there in spirit with all my fellow protesters.” He shared an aerial shot of the protest site and called himself “a proud Bombayite today”.
A proud Bombayite today. pic.twitter.com/eDJeGJBiGe
— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) December 19, 2019
Azmi, on the other hand, shared a video revealing that she is not in India but is in full support of the peaceful protests. She recited a poem of her husband-writer Javed Akhtar. “Jo mujhko zinda jala rahe hain wo bekhabar hain / ke meri zanjeer dheere dheere pighal rahi hai / main qatl to ho gaya tumhari gali mein lekin mere lahu se tumhari deewar gal rahi hai.
In solidarity with protestors against CAA and NRC pic.twitter.com/hynuypyNsm
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) December 19, 2019
She also shared inspiring lines of her father and renowned poet Kaifi Azmi, “Aaj ki raat bahut garm hawa chalti hai / aaj ki raat na footpath pe neend ayegi / sab utho main bhi uthoon tum bhi utho / koi khidki isi deewar mein khul jayegi.” She appealed the protestors to not use violence.
The event turned out to be peaceful without any mishappenings unlike other states. Several people including the celebrities gave the credit to Mumbai Police. Actor-director Konkona Sen Sharma wrote on her Twitter page, “Peaceful protest at August Kranti Maidan today in Mumbai. Felt safe after a long time despite 20000+ people! Thank you Mumbai Police.” Azmi also thanked the police on her Twitter page.
It is no doubt that support from prominent public figures boosts the confidence of students protesting across the country. But filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, who has made award winning films like Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin, Dharavi, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, has warned that the movement should not be hijacked by the celebrities. He is one of the few who took a clear stand without mincing the words and condemned the Delhi Police violence on students of Jamia Millia Islamia.
Taking to his Twitter account, he wrote, “Please don’t make the protests into a celebrity march. It has been led by people from all walks of life, especially students and young. The celebrities should walk behind the people. The young should lead the old.”
Mishra further wrote in a subsequent tweet, “The March should be about the idea, about a view of India and not about celebrities talking about the obvious as if they invented it. They should just follow and learn.”