Actor Prakash Raj, New Dissenting Voice From Filmdom

Prakash Raj, an immensely popular actor from south India and a National Awardee, has shown his spine by speaking out against India’s ruling establishment on several issues affecting the country. Since the murder of his close friend, journalist Gauri Lankesh, in Bangalore, Raj has frequently criticised the Modi government, RSS and its affiliate groups.
Top Bollywood stars have always refrained from commenting on pressing national issues.Most of them support the ruling dispensations to help the government decisions get acceptability among people. The attitude of the stars having huge fan followings has not changed since the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.Superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar are known to have lent their support to many decisions of the NDA government on the issues of demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax, perceived by many as harsh measures heaping untold miseries on common people. On the other hand, they have avoided speaking on issues like atrocities on people from minorities and Dalits by cow vigilante groups or killing of innocent people in the name of religion, probably fearing backlash from the fanatics. However, Prakash Raj, an immensely popular actor from south India, has proved to be an exception. In the recent months, Raj, a National Award winning actor, has shown his spine by speaking out against India’s ruling establishment on several issues affecting the country.Since the murder of his close friend, journalist Gauri Lankesh, in Bangalore, Raj has frequently criticised the Modi government, RSS and its affiliate groups. Lankesh was severely critical of the hate politics allegedly encouraged by BJP and RSS.Seemingly shaken by Lankesh murder and its alleged celebration by many Twitter handles followed by Modi, Raj questioned the Prime Minister’s silence over the issue. His description of Modi as a better ‘actor’ than him did not go down well with the supporters of BJP and RSS and he was trolled on the Twitter. A BJP worker also lodged a complaint against Raj in a police station in Lucknow.But an unfazed Raj, who acts in Telugu, Tamil, Kannad, Malayalam and Hindi movies, has stepped up his criticism of the BJP government and right wing political forces. Recently, he has started taking pot shots at them on Twitter with attachments of few paragraphs with a heading “To whomsoever it may concern” to his tweets. While his satirical takes on issues of national importance have become immensely popular among the Twitterati, quite a few of them have become headliners in the print and television media. While November 8, the anniversary of announcement of demonetisation, was celebrated by BJP as “anti-black money day” and observed by Congress as “black day”, Raj tweeted: “This day…that age. While the rich found ways to convert their black money into shiny new notes…this disruptive impact made millions suffer helplessly…and the unorganised sector workers went for a spin. Would you mind saying sorry…for the biggest blunder of our time…#Justasking.”
It is anybody’s guess from whom Raj sought an apology for the “biggest blunder”.
On the pathetic economic situation following demonetisation and GST, Raj wondered in a tweet that instead of focusing on farmers’ plight, providing jobs to youth, constructing roads, schools and hospitals, the politicians were busy just winning elections and digging history about Taj Mahal and Tipu Sultan.
Raj also criticised Uttar Pradesh chief minister Jogi Adityanath campaigning in poll bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. “Is election a tool…to march with your army to wipe out everyone…acquire and rule. When you r elected with a mandate to govern our respective states…don’t you cease to be just from a party and become the government answerable to your people. What are you doing in other states?” he tweeted.
Taking on the terror unleashed by fringe elements on the minorities, Dalits and young couples, Raj commented: “If instilling fear in the name of religion…culture…morality is not terrorising…then what is it…If abusing and manhandling young couples on the streets of my country in the name of morality is not terrorising…If taking law into hands and lynching people on slightest doubt of cow slaughter is not terrorising…If trolling with abuse, threat…to silence a slightest voice of dissent is not terrorising…then what is terrorising.”In response to BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao’s comment on national television that the artists have ‘zero IQ’ levels following the controversy over Tamil film Mersal’s reference to demonetisation and GST, Raj hit back on Twitter. “Shouldn’t art express its concern…Since you think we artists from film fraternity have 0% IQ…do you intend to have entrance exams through censor board or equivalent boards to determine who is eligible to make films and how in future. If so where do we get the applications…,” he said.  His best take is however on the controversy on Taj Mahal being a Hindu Temple. “Will this worlds wonder #tajmahal be a past in our future???…Since you have started digging at the foundation of #tajmahal…when you intend to bring it down. We can at least take our children and show it one last time.”
Keep tweeting Raj, the country needs artistes with guts like you!!    PP-NOV-16-30-2017