Secular Bollywood’s deafening silence on Ayodhya

5th August, 2020, would remain enshrined in annals of the history as one of the most significant days of modern India as it marked the culmination of a five century old struggle. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Ram temple, putting an end to Hindu society’s long quest to reclaim the birthplace of their God.

From media to academicians to professionals, almost everyone in the country had an opinion on the subject. But quite astonishingly an otherwise highly opinionated section of the society, the Bollywood, remained silent. The B-town stars who otherwise seem to have an opinion on everything under the sun, from CAA to Black Lives Matter, chose to maintain a rather deafening silence on the issue.

Apart from a few who already carry the label of being right-wing, majority of the Bollywood preferred to remain tight lipped on Ayodhya, but one may wonder why? Even if they don’t support the construction, they should have expressed themselves. And if they do support then what compulsion forced them to suppress their feelings?

The silence from Bollywood is such that it has baffled many of the industry insiders. One such was veteran director Vivek Agnihotri, who expressed his astonishment on Twitter.

Further, in a recent podcast, Agnihotri suggested that the reason behind Bollywood’s silence over the issue could be the fact that a lot of them are endorsers for Chinese brands and that their movies usually look for a hefty business in Middle East and other Muslim countries.

While at the first look, this may sound a little far fetched. But on a closer inspection, the postulation by Agnihotri appear very likely. As a matter of fact, it may be the only logical explanation for Bollywood’s deafening silence on Ayodhya.

Could it be that the Bollywood is silent because they have found themselves in a pecurious situation where they can’t oppose the temple fearing backlash from Indians, and can’t support it either, lest it angers their well wishers and supporters from beyond the borders. Maybe those in China, Middle East or even Pakistan.

It is an open secret now that a large section of the Bollywood highly values viewership in Pakistan and is often very careful about not hurting them, even if it requires ignoring the feelings of their own fellow countrymen here. Bollywood’s close proximity with Pakistan’s underworld, industrialists and even alleged ISI agents is not unknown either.

The terrorist and mafia don Dawood Ibrahim, a prime accused in Mumbai blasts, who now figures amongst the influential ones in Pakistan, was once regularly spotted with ace Bollywood stars.

The pictures of star Anil Kapoor dancing at the birthday party of Dawood’s nephew or sharing galary with the terrorist at Sharjah that too at the zenith of his professional career are still fresh in the memory of many.

Kapoor’s daughter, Sonam, who is very opinionated and was vocal throughout the violent CAA protests, more often than not appearing to be lending her support for rioters, is also equally silent on this issue. The question remains, why?

Not too long ago, it was revealed that a Pakistani real estate Barron named Aneel Mussarat shares closs relations with many top Bollywood stars. But that is just half the story. Same Mussarat also shares close relations with Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Bajwa, ISI, and Imran Khan’s PTI.

Though one may also note that not everyone in the Bollywood remained. Some did indeed come out to cherish the occasion. However, as already mentioned, these were the ones who have already been branded as “right wingers” and on some occasions also as “BJP supporters” by the majority of the Bollywood for merely being proud of their Hindu roots. Those who cherished Ayodhya Bhoomi Pujan from the Bollywood include names like, Akshay Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Anupam Kher, Shekhar Kapoor, Ravina Tandon and Kangana Ranaut.

Ranaut, has even announced her plans of producing a movie on the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. But apart from these few, already branded individuals, larger Bollywood remained quite. The question persists, is it because of their Pakistani well wishers that majority of the Bollywood decided to refrain from joining their fellow countrymen in celebrating Ayodhya Bhoomi Pujan?

Do the Bollywood stars believe that despite living and earning in India, they are above average an Indian and hence don’t need to be a part of their joys and sorrows? The questions are many. But one thing is for sure, perhaps due to their divided priorities, perhaps due to their inability to identify with the masses, Bollywood stars are fast losing the esteemed position which they once held in the hearts of the people.