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Not fair to make only actors speak up on social or political issues, says Deepika Padukone

At ThePrint's Off the Cuff, Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone discusses political activism, the Padmaavat controversy and mental health.

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Mumbai: It isn’t fair that only Bollywood personalities are made to opine on social and political issues while the same is not expected from anyone else, whether it is businessmen or sportspersons, actor Deepika Padukone said at ThePrint’s Off The Cuff Wednesday.

In conversation with ThePrint’s Editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta, Padukone said she likes to state her perspective only when there is any hope for change.

“Right or wrong, I don’t know, but businessmen are never asked these questions. Cricketers are never asked these questions. Please ask Ratan Tata ji about Aarey. I really want to know what he has to say,” said the 33-year-old actor.

“We are brought on platforms like this one and asked to opine on everything that goes on… You should ask some of the cricketers about the MeToo movement. I don’t see that happening… If I expose myself to a forum you can ask me whatever question you want, but why subject only a film star to it? Aren’t we all responsible citizens and should we all not have an opinion?” Deepika asked.

On activism and opinions

Responding to a question on why influential actors don’t speak on issues such as the incidents of mob lynching across the country, Padukone said she likes to work in a way where she can see change.

“I am someone who likes to work in a way where I can also see change… I focus all my energies towards (working for) mental health awareness. Like I said, I am not someone who can get into… then I will have to stop acting and become a full time activist for the lack of a better word,” Padukone said.

“If I am going to say something out publicly, if I am going to rant on Twitter, if I am going to give interviews and if I don’t see change, that’s a waste of my effort and my energy,” she added.

She talked about the Aarey controversy, where Mumbai’s residents are protesting against the state government for hacking trees for a Metro car shed, as an example. The actor said nothing that she says about the controversy is going to change anything now.

“They are gone. Over 2,000 trees, and the Supreme Court has swooped in when we have four trees left. If I say something now is that going to change the situation?” Padukone questioned.

She also talked about how everyone’s way of responding to such situations is different and the Padmaavat case is a classic example of the same.

“That one incident where people were threatening to cut my head off and my nose off, did you see any adverse reaction from me? Others responded because that is others way of responding. Everyone doesn’t have to respond the same way. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a point of view. I just think everybody’s way of approaching it is different,” Padukone said.

Actor Deepika Padukone and ThePrint's Editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta
Actor Deepika Padukone and ThePrint’s Editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta | ThePrint

Mental health awareness

Padukone, who has openly spoken about her battle with anxiety and depression, said raising awareness on mental health is an issue close to her heart and she would love to produce a film on the topic some day.

“I would love to produce something. Being someone who has experienced it I am looking out for that. But, I need people who also work in the field of mental health, understand nuances, can interpret them…,” said the actor, who set up The Live Love Laugh Foundation, an organisation dedicated to mental health issues and raising awareness about them.

According to Padukone, mental health is complex since it does not manifest physical symptoms like physiological diseases and India is still at a very nascent stage in its understanding of it.

On her decision to share her own mental health experience, she said she wanted to help others who may be going through something similar as she struggled with it all by herself, for a long time.

“One is knowing what you are going through and diagnosing it, and the second is acceptance. Often families are ashamed and people are stopped from seeking help,” said Padukone, adding that in her case it was just her mother who diagnosed her problems, but that too at a much later stage.


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