An Open Letter to Bollywood

Recently I saw a video on Cobrapost where some Bollywood stars were shown demanding absurd amount of money for tweeting in support of some political party in India.

Not only did I find this extremely audacious, but also very misleading to the public. Hence, I decided to address them by an open letter. Here it goes,

Dear Bollywood celebrities,

Everything is not for sale. You can make people buy luxurious products like shampoo, body creams and mango beverages (who can forget ‘Aamasutra’ advertisement endorsed by Katrina Kaif herself) by dazzling them with your godly physical features but stop right there. Do not use your social power to influence millions of people to choose a political party which might not be the best option for them in exchange for quick and easy money.

I repeat- not everything is for sale. Now, you might have a hard time believing that going by how frequently you flash your latest designer wear and the latest holiday in Paris.

These are not always fruits of labor. Yes, life has been fairly good to you. Your good looks, charm, persona, money have probably inoculated you from the harshest situations the rest of us face in life on a daily basis. You are worshiped as role models when your general knowledge is as weak as my four-year-old nephews.

Note how Alia says she doesn’t like to talk about Geography (at 13:24) when asked about the capital of Denmark (at 11:00), with Varun incorrectly prompting Sweden from behind. Copenhagen, where you must have shot for some Karan Johar movie or one of your instagrammable stories, completely missed your preoccupied mind.

Don’t worry, I am not castigating you. Please don’t try to redeem yourself by making another AIB self-roast video.

You are still forgiven and drowned in adulation for your performance in your latest movie. Because acting like a patriot or a hero or a doctor will ultimately make you one in the eyes of the easily-pleased Indian janta. Such selfless work – worth only a few millions of rupees.

“Arre, the rest of Indians hai na genius. Doctors, IAS officer, engineers woh ban jayege. Hum sirf credit le lenge.”

Dissing the hard work most of us do in our lifetime by getting instant admiration for your glamorous portrayal of everyday folks prancing about in some utopian world. While the rest of us mortals spend most of our youth studying for CBSE boards. You have your future already paved by your relatives in Bollywood. Not to forget, your alternative career options are as lucrative as your primary career (politics, business owners, book authors, etc.)

It’s not entirely your fault. Probably if anyone else would have got the chance at nepotism they would have readily grabbed it too. We only poke fun at it because of jealousy and bitterness. But where do the lies stop, and the truth begin?

Are you a nationalist? Or a feminist? A left- or right-wing supporter?

Who are you, truly? Or are you so good at acting, it comes naturally in all walks of life?

And, enlighten me what is your take on #metoo. Will you only take a stand when it suits you?

Where do you draw the moral line? Taking money for posting your political support make both you and your support less credible. Please stay within the realms of your Bollywood award shows and film fraternities.

It is unfortunate the times we live in. Good looks, modeling, an acting career are applauded and cheered for, whereas doctors and engineers are constantly hounded with reservations and expectations. While movies like ‘Houseful’ and ‘Masti’ easily make 100 crores by delivering cheesy lines and sleazy humor. The starting salary of doctors and research interns is peanuts.

But not to deviate too much from the topic. Demanding money for your fallacious political stand shouldn’t be means to revive or sustain your career.

Yes, if you truly believe in a cause, please, by all means, advocate it- but that decision should be incentivized by your passion, not by money. You raise doubts for actors who genuinely support a political cause or movement by pulling off stunts like these. I respect Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi and the other celebrities who refused to sanction this absurd political promotion. I know not all of you are bad, some of you are simply stereotyped. And I apologize deeply for that. Maybe, I got a little influenced by your own industry (ugly guy=villain, good-looking guy=hero, hot girl=item, sweet girl=plain jane).

We still need you. Why do we need you? Because you can influence a million people. My earliest memories have been of Aishwarya Rai mesmerizing me with her beautiful eyes when she informed everyone of her decision of donating the most priceless asset, her emerald eyes. Aishwarya, I salute you.

You were truly an inspiration, not just for me, but for so many people. With your selflessness, you will always be beautiful to me, inside out. Maybe today, someone would have put a hefty price tag on even briefly appearing for charities. But still, it’s comforting to know that not all of you are sell-outs.

Leonardo Di Caprio’s Instagram page is full of relevant topics like climate change and loss of biodiversity. When he won an Oscar, we all expected him to be vindictive, but instead, he chose to talk about the environmental issues plaguing our planet. I don’t think he charges any money for supporting issues that each one of us should take a moment and reflect on. It is as much as his duty as ours.

So, my earnest appeal to Bollywood celebrities who tweet about their work-outs, their upcoming films and compliments to films meant to pander, directors – please take out some time and tweet about relevant issues you truly believe in. Voice your concerns about rhinos being on the verge of extinction or air pollution rising. Use your influence wisely.

Dr. Rachita Ramya

Author is a dentist pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Health in the United States

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