She came, she stood - right among them - and said nothing. She didn't need to. Her presence made her stand clear.
Deepika Padukone has done what no big male movie star has by appearing at JNU on Tuesday evening in solidarity with students protesting against the insidious attack that rolled there for hours. Some accuse her of using the appearance to draw attention at a time when she has a new movie - "Chhapaak". Doesn't matter. She took a brave stand that she knew could impact her movie - there were instant calls to boycott it.
Lazim hai ki hum bhi dekhenge. Deepika chose to play the supporting role to some real-life heroes.
As a co-producer of the film, those 15 minutes the actress spent at the JNU campus beside Aishe Ghosh - the battered JNU students' union president - Deepika, 34, has risked much more than any Kapoor or Khan or Bachchan.
Late in 2017, Deepika faced death threats from the fringe outfit Karni Sena for her film "Padmaavat" - they warned off chopping of her nose because they held the film dishonours the Rajput queen and fictionalizes crucial history.
From then to now, she has shown that she remains unintimidated and is capable of using her stature for big causes. I haven't always been a fan of hers - I've written here about the red carpet atrocities she has committed - but on her strength and dignity, I am among those who are blown away by how she stood there calmly at Ground Zero without frenzy or dramatic comments.
This is Bollywood's woke moment - when it mattered, its women at least finally stood up - and not just for a selfie. Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar, Richa Chadha are amongst countless other celebrities who are part of this rising. For someone to take this chance at a time when crores are tied up in her own production is nothing short of inspiring.
"The female of the species is, and was, and will always be the strongest of the two," tweeted filmmaker Anurag Kashyap who was expectedly not invited at the government's 5-star meeting to woo an industry it thought (with good reason until now) was utterly pliant. Perhaps those who choose to remain silent will get that fandom could swerve away from them.
600 million young people have two big obsessions - movies and cricket. They are also watching Captain Kohli choosing to stay in the pavilion when it's turning point. Again, it's the skipper's choice to say he doesn't have much knowledge of the CAA protests, that he doesn't want to mix sport and hit it out of the park like he did during demonetization, praising it before we could even run to the bank.
As for Deepika, the image of her standing, hands folded, with students, is the real blockbuster.
(Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava worked with NDTV for more than a decade and now writes on a variety of topics for several news organisations.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.