Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan have dominated the Indian cinema space for several decades now and their collective fan-following transcends continents.
Although they achieved their stardom through cinema, they’ve become icons to crores of people across the globe for taking up humanitarian causes affecting society in real life. However, their recent actions have caused serious damage to their popularity with many even calling them real-life villains.
Amitabh Bachchan has been a brand ambassador of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s beti bachao beti padhao campaign, but seldom has he spoken on any violence against women in a bid to avoid embarrassment for the BJP.
He came under considerable flak earlier this year when a reporter asked him to comment on the gruesome gang-rape and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim child in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. At least two BJP ministers had joined a protest march, called in support of the rapists and killers of the child. Far from condemning the brutal act by the supporters of the Hindutva brigade, Bachchan had admonished the reporter for asking the question.
Few months on, another reporter asked Bachchan on Thursday to comment on the stunning allegations of actor Tanushree Dutta, claiming that Nana Patekar had sexually harassed her in the past. Bachchan once again lost his cool and angrily responded to the reporter, “Neither is my name Tanushree, nor is it Nana Patekar. How do I answer this question?”
This led many to condemn the Bollywood megastar with some even calling him a spineless man. Journalist Rohini Singh asked, “Has Amitabh Bachchan stood up for anything in his life? He is always on the right side of power. A great actor but possibly the most spineless, hypocrite in recent times!”
Journalist Preeti Choudhry tweeted, “My name is Amitabh Bachchan,I know my word can carry.If I want I can start a real dialogue by answering this question but I rather write ‘inspirational’ notes on misogyny post PINK ..so my silence now is braided with irony ..lest we upset this beautiful order that I preside over!”
Known for his ability to speak truth in favour of humanity, Aamir too has come under fire for choosing to look the other way when the Hindi film industry has been rocked by its own #MeToo moment. Tanushree’s allegations have been verified by many including a journalist, who was witness to her sexual harassment in 2005.
And yet, when a reporter asked Aamir to comment on the issue, his reply was, “Without knowing the veracity of something or the details of something, I don’t think I can comment. It is not right for me. But I would like to say that whenever something like this does happen, it’s really sad. Now if it has happened or not it is for people to investigate.”
Often dubbed as Bollywood’s bad boy, Salman has successfully reinvented his image through his incredibly amazing Being Human initiative. He’s often ready to help his not-so-privileged colleagues from the Hindi film industry when the chips are down with them.
But on Tanushree’s allegations, even Salman could not muster the courage to speak the truth. Far from it, he lost his temper at the reporter and reminded her that the press conference she was invited to was not about Tanushree. He rudely asked, “Which event have you come to madam?” The reporter replied that it was not possible for a journalist to meet him every day so this was an appropriate occasion to ask him a question about Tanushree’s allegations.
Even though the story has dominated the media for several days, Salman said that he was not aware of Tanushree’s allegations.
Salman Khan attended an event today and was questioned about Tanushree’s allegations. See what happened after my questions. #TanushreeDutta #NanaPatekar #SalmanKhan @rahulkanwal @sahiljoshii @PadmajaJoshi @kamleshsutar @gauravcsawant @swapniljourno @ashu3page @mausamii2u pic.twitter.com/tWRC0KHt6J
— Shivangi Thakur (@thakur_shivangi) September 27, 2018
Tanushree’s allegations of sexual harassment in Bollywood and the mysterious silence adopted by some of the industry’s big names sum up their attitude towards women’s dignity in general. These stars will continue to make successful movies and their silence may not even impact their fan-following, but history may not remember them very kindly.