Gul Panag: If stars take political stand, their bread and butter is hit

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Bollywood actress Gul Panag says Indian celebrities do take a stand on issues but have to be prepared for the backlash. The actress feels one has to be very strong to withstand the massive opposition they might face for voicing an opinion.

“Indian stars do take a stand, look at what you do to them once they take a stand. The backlash that comes, you have to be prepared for it and I think (you) really grow a thick skin as well,” Gul said.

“But then the bread and butter gets affected because the power of the public narrative is such. My point is, the reason a lot of famous people will not take a stand is because of the fact that they would probably be unpopular.” Recently, Hollywood actress Merly Streep’s speech criticising US President-elect Donald Trump was highly praised. Several celebrities, both in Hollywood and Bollywood, raved about her brave comment.

Her speech, however, also drew comparison with Indian stars, with several people questioning whether the Indian film industry can take a political stand like that as well. In the past, stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir, Salman have faced backlash owing to their comments on issues of the country and recently on row over Pakistani actors working in Hindi films.

Gul, who also contested elections as an Aam Aadmi Party candidate, says both the ‘left wing and right wing’ can shun people having opposing views.

When asked if the moment a celebrity associates itself with a political party a certain section starts shunning them, Gul says, “Not just a certain section, not just political parties, I think any celebrity who tends to challenge the narrative will get some backlash, it depends what the narrative is, so it’s not always a right wing or a left wing narrative.”

Citing an example of a friend, a ‘successful Bollywood actor who took a particular view on Pakistani actors not being welcomed in Indian films’, the actress says she has been ‘ostracised by the ‘liberals’.’ Gul says the situation is such that her actor-friend, who “also has a life outside of acting, pursues hobbies like horse riding,” now has been shunned even by the industry.

“I think everybody should have an opinion but the fact is he has been ostracised by the film industry at large for having that opinion. I don’t agree with his opinion personally but that’s his opinion and he has been ostracised and that’s happened by the industry.”

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