Our Bollywood celebrities line up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for no reason at all but to enjoy a fan moment.
American TV reality show star Kim Kardashian West met Donald Trump, Wednesday to discuss prison reforms and sentencing of a 63-year-old grandmother who had been jailed since 1997 for a non-violent drug case without a parole.
Kardashian West used her celebrity status and her meeting with Trump to highlight an important issue.
Closer home, just look at how our own B-town celebrities line up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi – apparently for no reason at all but to enjoy a fan moment.
Here are some big names who have met Modi without a cause.
Kangana Ranaut met Modi in person at the Rising India summit held in March this year. She used that opportunity to tell the world how Modi inspired her – a typical fangirl moment. When the nationalist actor Akshay Kumar met Modi, he used the opportunity to promote his film ‘Toilet-Ek Prem Katha’, which was inspired by Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan. ‘Singham’ actor Ajay Devgn’s wife Kajol also met the PM in 2016 in the capacity of Hindustan Unilever’s brand ambassador to discuss Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a child reach 5’ campaign. Just like Akshay Kumar, she also praised him for his Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
Apart from kite-flying before elections, our Bhaijaan Salman Khan had also met Modi in November 2014 but why he met him is still unclear.
Virat Kohli went to the Modi’s office to invite him for his wedding with Anushka Sharma. But he chose not to speak about the corruption and nepotism in cricket boards with the so-called anti-corruption PM.
All these meets end up bolstering only Modi’s image, and don’t amount to anything. Oh yes, they do generate a star-struck selfie or that perfect photo-op for a tweet.
Not kind to criticism
Of course, there are exceptions. Priyanka Chopra and Aamir Khan.
Last year in May, Priyanka met him in Berlin when Modi was there for his four-day tour to Germany, Spain Russia and France, for no overt reason. But the second time she met him in April this year, it was in the capacity of a Unicef goodwill ambassador. She invited him for a conference on ‘Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’, scheduled for later this year.
Aamir Khan met Modi in June 2014 to shine light on issues highlighted by his TV show ‘Satyamev Jayate’. But Aamir has since gone silent. Modi government does not take kindly to criticism. When Aamir quoted his wife Kiran Rao about his anxieties over rising intolerance, he was massively trolled and quickly labelled anti-national and anti-Sanksari and asked to go to Pakistan. Shah Rukh Khan faced a volley of attack when he similarly spoke against extreme intolerance.
Neither Modi nor his supporters are open to criticism. It is not just Aamir Khan, even a Modi-supporter like Akshay Kumar is afraid. He has deleted his old tweets criticising fuel price hike in fear of embarrassing his political idol.
The attacks go beyond trolling. There is a real price to pay for speaking your mind in the new political climate. Actor Prakash Raj hasn’t been offered a single role in Bollywood ever since he started criticising the government and the political ideology that it emboldens.
Why waste an opportunity
Both Kajol and Priyanka, however, met Modi in the capacity of a representative of an organisation and not as private citizens whereas Kim Kardashian didn’t need to be the UN ambassador to discuss prison reforms with Trump.
Forget Kim Kardashian or Bollywood stars, when I was a student activist in Panjab University, our team used to meet politicians in power. Apart from greeting and clicking pictures, we also used the few minutes to discuss policies that were hurting the students. My power as student politician was limited and I wasn’t famous. But why waste a meeting with someone who is powerful? If young students can understand the value of such an opportunity, why can’t the big stars?