Why Deepika Padukone's 'Chhapaak' Box Office figures aren't a referendum on JNU protests

Deepika Padukone’s latest release 'Chhapaak', has apparently fallen out of favour among those supporting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, after she stood in solidarity with Jawaharlal Nehru University students, during her Delhi visit. The students were protesting over the attack that took place in the vicinity, leaving several injured.

Deepika was present just a couple of days before her film’s release that led a section to call for a boycott on the film. From politicians to party workers, to the self-made mouthpieces on social media, many banned the actress, her film and the brands she endorses by giving out distasteful comments or simply burning film posters on the streets.

Yoga guru Ramdev said Padukone should get herself acquainted with socio-political issues in the country before taking any "big decisions" and should appoint people like him as her advisors, who will give her a "fair insight" into vital issues.

On the other hand, BJP politician Gopal Bhargava also made an offensive and sexist comment attacking the actress, he said, “Heroine should dance in Mumbai. Why should she go to JNU?” Not just that, but when the film was made tax free in several states, Bhargava said, "The film was not even released and still it was made tax-free. Be it stunt or action or anything...if porn, they would have done it even then." Although later he clarified stating that his statement was distorted.

Also Read: 'Deepika Padukone's Congress leanings known since 2011': Smriti Irani hits out at actor for attending JNU protest

Do our leaders find it fashionable to stoop this low to please those who stand by their political party? Has our society bared all shame when it comes to a person having a different opinion than theirs, or the majority in general? Have we limited ourselves to only function as bandwagons and not question anything at all? It’s time to stop being obsessive and extremely narcissistic about political allegiances, and allow others to have a different stance, without calling them anti-national.

"We have to be able to separate between the personal and professional. What somebody does in their personal life and what they have done as a professional in a film needs to be looked at separately," Director Meghna Gulzar told PTI in a telephonic interview when asked to comment on Deepika’s JNU visit.

"While they are trying to separate the lens of personal and professional, if one can slightly divert the lens back to the reason why we made the film and what we are trying to talk about and bring to light... I think it is important," she added.

Gulzar has a point. We as a society have failed to differentiate between acts done on and off screen. If it has to be called a publicity stunt, the tag fits for all our politicians who mark events with photographers as proof of their welfare work. In this age, if it’s not on the internet, how would one know?

Coming to Chhapaak’s failure, Deepika’s JNU presence wasn’t the only element that turned unfavourable for the actress’ numbers at the box office. She was the producer as well, and clearly knew the consequences.

According to film critics, Chhapaak gets full marks for its direction, acting and engaging the audience in an emotional narrative. However, the writing lacks depth and misses out on who Malti (Deepika) is at large.

Also Read: Ajay Devgn's 'Tanhaji' earns Rs 16 cr at Box Office, Deepika Padukone's 'Chhapaak' manages Rs 4.7 cr

Besides, Chhapaak faced competition from Ajay Devgn’s ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’, which was a commercial entertainer and outdid the Deepika starrer. Why the difference? Certainly not because of JNU. The Indian audience refrains from watching films that don’t entertain them for a good two hours, with dance and some action to get that adrenaline rush.

On a completely different note, we as a society aren’t prepared to back female centric films just yet. The progressive genre will take time to flourish, where even till date heinous crimes like rape, domestic violence or stalking are refuted as ‘’she asked for it.” Chhapaak is no different than other films like Lipstick Under My Burkha, No One Killed Jessica or Mardaani that portray just fine, but aren’t big when it comes to footfall at theatres. However, they do raise awareness and conversations that in the near future will serve their true purpose.

Also Read: Chhapaak Movie Review: Don’t miss this one