Two days after masked goons attacked students and teachers at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), actor Deepika Padukone visited the campus in a show of solidarity with the students. Her Tuesday evening visit to the university instantly polarised opinion on social media, where trends ranged from #ISupportDeepika and #BoycottChhapaak to #shameonbollywood.
Deepika Padukone, in Delhi for promotions of her new movie Chhapaak, did not speak at JNU but images of the actor standing silently with the attacked students, including the JNU students' union chief Aishe Ghosh, drew admiration from many. Filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap and Nikhil Advani noted that it was a bold move for a star promoting her first film production.
As producer today @deepikapadukone would've been standing in the preview theatres in Mumbai waiting to hear praise being showered on her maiden production. She instead chose to stand in solidarity with #JNUstudents knowing fully well the ramifications of her actions. #RESPECT— Nikkhil Advani (@nikkhiladvani) January 7, 2020
Anurag Kashyap also changed his profile picture to an image of Deepika Padukone at JNU.
Her Chhapaak co-star Vikrant Massey praised the actor.
And many others hailed the Piku actor for her show of support
Thank you @deepikapadukone for giving this movement a mainstream narrative. For using your position to choose the correct path. It always comes to the women and yes, they do deliver! Big love sister! #WeAreWithJNU#noplaceforfascism— Sayani Gupta (@sayanigupta) January 7, 2020
#DeepikaPadukone I applaud your commitment...and your courage! You are a HERO!! ????????????????????????— Simi Garewal (@Simi_Garewal) January 7, 2020
@deepikapadukone When she was attacked over Padmavat very few came forward to support her. She knows what it feels to be targetted and she has shown exemplary courage by supporting the JNU students with quiet grace,More power to Deepika Padukone— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) January 8, 2020
Simultaneously, a stream of hate messages has been circulating on Twitter, along with a call for boycotting her movie releasing this Friday.
BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga tweeted her photo at JNU with an appeal to boycott her movies.
The boycott call instantly triggered a flood of support for Deepika Padukone on the microblogging website, with many criticising the BJP leader's tweet as "shameful". A number of people on Twitter used the hashtag #ChhapakDekhoTapaakSe to support Ms Padukone.
I don't go generally for first day first show but now #ChhapakDekhoTapaakSe— Ramesh Chandra (@drramvictor) January 7, 2020
Many also supported the #BoycottChhapaak hashtag.
Deepika Padukone's visit to JNU is an unusually proactive show of support for a Bollywood A-lister at a time other major stars have avoided taking a stand on the JNU attack as well as ongoing protests against the religion-based citizenship law. While celebrities like Anurag Kashyap, Swara Bhasker, Vishal Bhardwaj and Richa Chadha joined protests against the JNU violence, mainstream Bollywood was missing.
#ISupportDeepika— Falak Kauser (@FalakKauser) January 7, 2020
In the world full of akshay..salman...srk
Be a deepika padokone????????
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which, for the first time, makes religion a test for citizenship in India, has led to protests across the country.
"I feel proud that we are not scared of expressing ourselves... it is nice to see people coming out on to the streets and elsewhere to voice their opinions," Deepika Padukone had told NDTV in an interview on Monday.
On Sunday, between 50 and 70 masked attackers entered the JNU campus and beat students and teachers with sticks and rods. The police charged Aishe Ghosh, who was badly injured in the attack, and 26 others with vandalism during a previous protest against a hostel fee hike, blaming the violence on clashes between the Left and Right Wing students.
The Left-controlled students' union and the teachers' association, however, has blamed the attack on members of the BJP-linked student body ABVP or the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.