The Price of Pulling a Meryl Streep in Bollywood


The Price of Pulling a Meryl Streep in Bollywood

Illustration: Akshita Monga


magine for a moment, a film awards gala sponsored by huge corporates. Assume that a Bollywood actress – call her Chatrina Calf, it doesn’t matter – goes up on stage to accept an award and doesn’t begin her speech by thanking God. She doesn’t mention any of the sponsors, or the fact that her numerologist has advised her to insert more “Cs” into her name. She doesn’t talk about her mother, that she and her co-stars “were like a family on set”, or have a cute anecdote about the director’s passion for directing.

Instead, she takes the time to talk about a jawaan of the Border Security Force who complains that troops are being served disgusting food and made to live in poor conditions. She calls out government hypocrisy by pointing out that we are forced to stand for the national anthem and have the word “soldier” shoved in our faces every time the government is caught on the backfoot. She says a few harsh words about hyper-nationalism, encourages the freedom of the press, and says she is disgusted by the term “presstitutes”. She then ends with a Mahatma Gandhi quote that appeals for peace between all communities. Basically, she pulls a Meryl Streep.