Actor Deepika Padukone's visit to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi in a show of support for students targeted in a mob attack has sent out a powerful message and given courage to many others, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap said today. "The whole image of Deepika with her folded hands to Aishe Ghosh sends out a very strong message, and it is not just a message of solidarity but one that says 'I feel your pain'," the acclaimed filmmaker stressed.
Deepika Padukone, in Delhi to promote her new film "Chhapaak" releasing on Friday, visited JNU last evening and stood with the protesters without saying anything. In a particularly poignant image, the actor was seen with her hands folded before Aishe Ghosh, the JNU student leader who was badly wounded in the masked mob attack on Sunday.
"This is anything but a publicity stunt. Anybody in the business will tell you it is hara-kiri, especially when you are also the producer of the film," he said, praising Deepika Padukone's courage.
"Her doing that has given so much courage to everyone that we no longer need to fear. There is definite fear in the atmosphere in the country. Deepika negated that fear...that is why the image is so powerful," said Mr Kashyap.
"People are tired of living in fear, exhausted of living in fear."
On mainstream Bollywood largely keeping a safe distance from the protests or any controversy, he said "everyone will cross their threshold someday but you cannot force them. They have to live with themselves."
The filmmaker has re-emerged in protests and on Twitter after a self-imposed hiatus after he and his family were trolled viciously and threatened last year. He says he decided to come back because he was "being an ostrich and had to pull my head out of the sand". The director shared that he shot his latest, a short in the Netflix anthology "Ghost Stories", in London, even though he didn't have to.
"I do feel scared," he admitted.
"I don't fear authority or government or police. I know if I am arrested then I have the legal right to fight back. But a mad man on the street can do anything to you and that puts the fear in us... because they have literally armed everyone with a purpose, saying, 'because you are with (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, you are a patriot and soldier of the country. They have created an imaginary war, imaginary enemy within the country."
Asked whether he had any appeal he would like to make to the Prime Minister, Mr Kashyap returned: "This government doesn't listen. They only give speeches. They don't do press conferences, don't want debate. I 100 per cent believe this government doesn't want any good, they just want to control."