Actor Varun Dhawan has backed Deepika Padukone amid calls to boycott her film "Chhapaak" after she visited Jawaharlal Nehru University in solidarity with students protesting against a masked mob attack on Sunday.
"The 'boycott' word was used for my film 'Dilwale' which I did with Shah Rukh Khan. For "Padmaavat" too 'boycott' was used. These are the tactics to scare," Varun Dhawan told NDTV.
These tactics, Mr Dhawan said, stop powerful businessmen from airing their opinion publicly as they don't want their businesses to be hurt.
Varun Dhawan is among the select Bollywood A-listers who have condemned the attacks; while several film personalities like Swara Bhaskar, Anurag Kashyap and Richa Chaddha have been vocal in denouncing the attack, mainstream Bollywood has been largely silent.
"I think we cannot stay neutral in such issues. You have to condemn such attacks. It is dangerous and sad if masked people enter an educational institution and all this (assault, vandalism) happens," the actor was quoted as saying earlier by news agency IANS during a visit to Madhya Pradesh, where he was promoting his upcoming film "Street Dancer 3D".
Deepika Padukone's visit to JNU on Tuesday evening caused a firestorm and sharply divided social media, where trends ranged from #ISupportDeepika and #BoycottChhapaak to #shameonbollywood.
"I feel proud that we are not scared of expressing ourselves. It (is good) that we are thinking of our country and its future," she had told NDTV, a day before visiting the university.
The visit drew criticism from many leaders of the ruling BJP; Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma derided what he called the "trend" among the celebrities to create controversy ahead of their movie release.
Without naming the actor, JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, who has been facing intense criticism for not doing enough during last week's mob attack, questioned the support extended by "prominent people" to campus protests across the country.
"I would like to ask all those great personalities coming to support agitators, what about thousands of students and teachers who are deprived of their rights of doing research and teaching? Why can't you stand with them," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Apart from Varun Dhawan and Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt and Sonam Kapoor have also lent support to the student protests over the January 5 violence at JNU campus in which 34 people were left injured after a group of masked people armed with sticks and iron rods attacked students and teachers for hours.
JNU students have blamed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a students' union linked to the ruling BJP, for the attack. ABVP has in turn pointed at Left-backed student groups.
No arrests have still been made in the case.