Covid-19 & Migrant Problems Aren’t for Parliament. Let’s Discuss Bollywood’s Media Trial Instead

Social Commentary

Covid-19 & Migrant Problems Aren’t for Parliament. Let’s Discuss Bollywood’s Media Trial Instead

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The year 2020 has not been a good one, for India and the world. At home, we’ve had border tensions, communal riots, a crashing economy, and wide-scale loss of livelihoods across industries. Yet, the biggest problems in the eyes of some individuals with very visible public platforms has not been any of these issues, but the supposed misdeeds of actors and filmmakers in Bollywood. The public opinion toward the entertainment industry is more hostile than any other time in living memory, and Rajya Sabha member and former actress Jaya Bachchan has addressed it in Parliament.

“People in the entertainment industry are being flogged by social media. People who made their names in the industry have called it a gutter. I completely disagree… Just because there are some people, you can’t tarnish the image of the entire industry,” Bachchan said while speaking in the Upper House. It was a call for cooler heads to prevail, and for an entire industry to be spared the ordeal of a trial by media like Rhea Chakraborty went through after her boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide.

Of course, cooler heads would not include Kangana Ranaut, who appeared to take Bachchan’s remarks personally, though they were originally intended at Bachchan’s fellow Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha MP Ravi Kishan. Ranaut hit out at Bachchan in an uncalled for manner, conjuring up hypothetical situations where Bachchan’s daughter was subjected to abuse and Bachchan’s son committed suicide. Coming from anyone else, it would be a shocking and unnecessary statement, but Ranaut’s standards for civil discourse are far lower than average, so it was not much of a surprise to see her make such distasteful statements.

Of course, both statements had their backers. The difference was Bachchan’s statement was applauded by professionals from the film industry, while Ranaut’s was backed by internet trolls. And the level of discourse today ensured that both received equal coverage.