“Raising Questions Not Anti-National”: More Power to Taapsee Pannu, Bollywood’s Voice of Reason

Social Commentary

“Raising Questions Not Anti-National”: More Power to Taapsee Pannu, Bollywood’s Voice of Reason

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

In the world’s largest democracy, freedom of speech has often encountered an anti-national label. Dissenting voices are silenced and guilty until proven innocent has become the new law of the masses. But on International Day of Democracy, actor Taapsee Pannu has expressed the importance of dialogue in order to “save” our democracy.

An outspoken Pannu took to social media to highlight the state of our country, endlessly caught up between the religion and caste divide, the mob mentality, and the lynching of the innocent. Titled “Samwad”, the animated videos voiced by Pannu in Hindi and Punjabi, bring to life the sharp contrast between the visioned ideal world and the reality we live in. It’s a wake-up call, a reminder to the largest democracy in the world to “make sure we preserve our ‘rights’ and perform the ‘duties’”.

“Because when you raise questions asking for better for your country it’s not anti-national. It’s because you love your country and countrymen beyond all fears and feel it’s potential is still untapped,” the actor wrote on Instagram.

The video starts with Taapsee Pannu talking about the promises of a “New India” that cease to exist. “Rakhi hai humne ek naye Bharat ki buniyaad, honge safal gar ho samvaad. Vigyan ki khoj me nikle the, andhvishwaaso me dube, iska hai gham. New India me honge na berozgaar, fir chunaao jate hi kyu badle sab yaar,” says says.

It points out the false promises made by politicians to appease the public but a failure to deliver them. The sentiment of “honge safal agar ho samwad” resonates throughout the clip as it progresses from one dark reality to another.

Focusing on the Constitution of India, what it’s meant to be and what it stands to define, Pannu encourages people to start anew. “Samvidhaan kahe ki hum sab ek hain, fir dharm jaat me kyun bante hain? Bhookha na soega koi, sabka hoga ghar. Nek hai khayala agar mite man ka darr. Jantantra me sawal jab bhi uthaye, rashtra virodhi wo kyu kehlaye?Vasudaiva kutumb, ye duniya ko sikhlaya fir humi ne ye kyu na nibhaya? Rakhe hum aisi buniyaadf, wo safar, kar sabse samwaad.” She urges us to take a stance on situations that matter, and need to be amplified by creating an environment that one could hold a dialogue in. We need to eradicate the fear that voicing an opinion that differs from the rest is a call to challenge, and not one to discuss, she emphasises.

Not one to shy away from speaking her mind and using the influence she wields to highlight social and political problems haunting India, Taapsee Pannu’s “samwad” is truly the need of the hour.

Pannu has always shown courage to take a stand when few others have. She was among the first actors in Bollywood who spoke up in support of Rhea Chakraborty, vilified by the media after the death of her boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput. Asking people to place their trust in the law, she pointed out “how wrong it is to overtake [the] judiciary to convict someone who isn’t proven guilty.”

During the migrant crisis, the actor spoke of the ordeal the country’s poor dealt with, one that was “more than just a viral infection”. An animated video titled “Pravaasi” recreated the most horrific and saddening images from the lockdown, reminding us of the struggles that went on beyond the four walls of our homes.

While most of Bollywood continues to tread a politically correct path, actors like her are an anomaly. Here’s more power to Tapsee Pannu for being the voice of reason.