New Delhi: Two days after Deepika Padukone paid a surprise visit to Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi inviting extreme reactions, the Narendra Modi government’s skill development ministry has “dropped” a promotional video that had the actor speaking about acid attack survivors and Skill India, ThePrint has learnt.
“A promotional video to promote Skill India featuring Deepika Padukone was to be released today (Wednesday). It was being circulated in the Shram Shakti Bhawan (ministry office) too. But after yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) chain of events the video was abruptly dropped,” a senior official in the ministry told ThePrint Wednesday.
The ministry, however, said Thursday it was only “evaluating” the video.
The 45-second promotional video on Skill India has Padukone speaking about equal opportunities for all citizens of the country, pegging it on her film Chhapaak, a biographical drama on an acid attack survivor set to release Friday. ThePrint has seen the video.
The skill ministry had facilitated Padukone’s meeting with acid attack survivors before the video was produced.
In its official response to a query from ThePrint, the ministry, however, said there has been no “formal engagement” with Padukone.
“As part of regular process under communication and promotional activity for Skill India, the team keeps getting ideas from media houses and organisations to cross promote each other. The production team (of Chhapaak) had approached Skill India for promoting the subject of the film,” said the ministry.
It added, “…the actors from the movie had met some acid attack survivors and specially-abled candidates from our ecosystem which are also Skill India beneficiaries inspiring them to do better in life,” said the statement.
Earlier, the media adviser of the ministry had told ThePrint that the “video was submitted by Deepika’s team” and it was being “evaluated”.
ThePrint reached Padukone for a comment but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
Deepika Padukone hit national headlines after she visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus Tuesday to express solidarity with JNU Students Union president Aishe Ghosh who was attacked, among others, by masked assailants Sunday.
Padukone didn’t make a statement from the campus. However, she told news channel Aaj Tak that the situation in the country “pains me”, and expressed anger over “no action” in the JNU case. The Delhi Police hasn’t yet made any arrests in connection with the JNU violence.
A section of BJP leaders came out to speak against the actor after her JNU visit, saying she supported the “tukde tukde gang”. Some even pressed for a boycott of Chhapaak. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, however, said anyone can go anywhere and have their opinion on any issue. “There is no objection to it.”
Padukone has drawn praise on social media for “taking a stand”. However, some have also described her act as a “publicity stunt”.
Skill India promotion
The skill development ministry has in the past used the services of other Bollywood stars for promotion of its schemes.
In 2018, actors Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma were seen promoting the Skill India programme during the release of their film Sui Dhaaga: Made in India. In promotional videos, Dhawan and Sharma pushed Pradhan the Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, ITI and apprenticeship schemes.
Padukone, too, has in the past promoted the programme at events in Mumbai, said a ministry official who didn’t wish to be named.