Two days after masked goons attacked students and teachers at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), actor Deepika Padukone visited the campus in a show of solidarity with the students. Her Tuesday evening visit to the university instantly polarised opinion on social media, where trends ranged from #ISupportDeepika and #BoycottChhapaak to #shameonbollywood.
Deepika Padukone, in Delhi for promotions of her new movie Chhapaak, did not speak at JNU but images of the actor standing silently with the attacked students, including the JNU students’ union chief Aishe Ghosh, drew admiration from many. Filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap and Nikhil Advani noted that it was a bold move for a star promoting her first film production.
Let’s not forget she is also the producer of the films .. stakes are even higher . Mad respect for @deepikapadukone https://twitter.com/ranaayyub/status/1214571717441531910 …Rana Ayyub
It takes guts to do this two days before the release of a high stake, important film. https://twitter.com/Suresh_Mathew_/status/1214567803308523520 …
As producer today @deepikapadukone would’ve been standing in the preview theatres in Mumbai waiting to hear praise being showered on her maiden production. She instead chose to stand in solidarity with #JNUstudents knowing fully well the ramifications of her actions. #RESPECT
Anurag Kashyap also changed his profile picture to an image of Deepika Padukone at JNU.
Her Chhapaak co-star Vikrant Massey praised the actor.
And many others hailed the Piku actor for her show of support
Simultaneously, a stream of hate messages has been circulating on Twitter, along with a call for boycotting her movie releasing this Friday.
BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga tweeted her photo at JNU with an appeal to boycott her movies.
The boycott call instantly triggered a flood of support for Deepika Padukone on the microblogging website, with many criticising the BJP leader’s tweet as “shameful”. A number of people on Twitter used the hashtag #ChhapakDekhoTapaakSe to support Ms Padukone.
This is so shameful @TajinderBagga. #ISupportDeepika https://twitter.com/TajinderBagga/status/1214561442357080070 …Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga
RT if you will Boycott Movies of @deepikapadukone for her Support to #TukdeTukdeGang and Afzal Gang
Many also supported the #BoycottChhapaak hashtag.
Deepika Padukone’s visit to JNU is an unusually proactive show of support for a Bollywood A-lister at a time other major stars have avoided taking a stand on the JNU attack as well as ongoing protests against the religion-based citizenship law. While celebrities like Anurag Kashyap, Swara Bhasker, Vishal Bhardwaj and Richa Chadha joined protests against the JNU violence, mainstream Bollywood was missing.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which, for the first time, makes religion a test for citizenship in India, has led to protests across the country.
“I feel proud that we are not scared of expressing ourselves… it is nice to see people coming out on to the streets and elsewhere to voice their opinions,” Deepika Padukone had told NDTV in an interview on Monday.
On Sunday, between 50 and 70 masked attackers entered the JNU campus and beat students and teachers with sticks and rods. The police charged Aishe Ghosh, who was badly injured in the attack, and 26 others with vandalism during a previous protest against a hostel fee hike, blaming the violence on clashes between the Left and Right Wing students.
The Left-controlled students’ union and the teachers’ association, however, has blamed the attack on members of the BJP-linked student body ABVP or the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.