Bollywood stood up and applauded when Farhan Akhtar launched MARD or Men Against Rape and Discrimination (of Women). The media celebrated this as a bold step because never before a Bollywood star had attempted to create such a movement before.
Farhan Akhtar launched the campaign and subsequently the organisation, after his legal counsel Pallavi Purakayastha died a horrific death. She was killed by her apartment’s security guard, Sajjad Mughal, who wanted to take revenge as she pulled him up in public for ogling at her. Within a year of Pallavi’s death, her boyfriend too died in the most tragic way possible, out of depression. Tragically, Sajjad Mughal has jumped parole and is absconding.
Farhan Akhtar launched MARD in March 2013, six months after Pallavi’s death. Farhan blogged about it and it led many including me to believe that MARD is a tribute to Pallavi. I agree that it couldn’t have been a better gift for the woman who fought her killer so bravely till her last breath.
During the initial days of my career as a crime reporter, I have seen cases of female sexual abuse very closely. I remember that in at least one of the cases, I had worked closely with the police to nab a rapist who had killed his victim. These incidents deeply affected me. Obviously, I couldn’t last in crime reporting for a long time. Bollywood seemed to be a better option, until now.
I was very proud of Farhan. In fact, I remember wanting to walk upto him at a private party hosted by Om Puri and Nandita Puri (on their son’s Ishaan’s birthday), to say how proud I was of what he is doing.
I felt and publicly professed that Farhan is making a difference in Bollywood. When most actors just voice their support regarding these issues, Farhan Akhtar is the only Bollywood star who actively patronised a movement against it.
It dawned on me yesterday and image of Farhan Akhtar that I had built in my mind and heart for years, crashed right in front of me.
It depressed me when I discovered that Farhan doesn’t practice what he preaches. For Farhan, charity doesn’t begin at home.
Dear Farhan Akhtar, you didn’t have the right to disappoint me like this. You really, really shouldn’t have done this. We thought that you had the guts but as things turn out, you don’t.
You don’t have a voice. You really don’t, because when people are pleading you to raise your voice (just as you have preached), it is met with a deafening silence.
Why Farhan? You can talk about how women are abused and discriminated in your own promotional video but when it comes to Bollywood, you choose to remain quiet? Why?
Is it because you don’t have a voice? Is it because you choose not to have an opinion about it or is it because it concerns your workplace?
What is the reason behind you to not even squeak in protest against Salman Khan? The rape comment might be seen in a different light and we can debate whether he should apologise or not… but can you deny that it is discriminatory remark against women?
Nobody raised a voice against Bhai in Bollywood. Even Shah Rukh Khan chose to skirt the issue when asked about it publicly. However, the way I see it, he obliquely said that it was an inappropriate remark.
We thought we would hear your voice. I thought that you would say, that remarks like these are not expected from a star of Salman Khan’s stature. It’s not that it cannot be said. Though Bollywood mostly kept mum about it, some did raise their voices. Kangana Ranaut and Anurag Kashyap said it like it should be. And you know what? Aamir Khan too followed your advice and proved himself to be a MARD.
Clearly you chose to look the other way.
Chalo theek hai. Let’s accept for the time being that either you are too scared of Salman Khan or you feel that Salman’s remark was not discriminatory. Let’s give you the benefit of doubt.
What about direct rape threats, Farhan? What about threats to kill and rape a woman in the most vile way possible?
You don’t know what I am talking about? Allow me…
What was the reason behind you not shutting down trolls who were threatening singer Sona Mohapatra publicly? Yes, there were prominent Twitter handles who tagged you for help. When people tagged you in the conversation, I expected you to thunder. I expected you to attack. I expected you to outrage more than Arnab Goswami on NewsHour.
Not even a whimper.
Dear Farhan, you made me understand that we should not remain silent when such incidents are happening in front of you. You have said that numerous times. Over and over again.
You suddenly seemed to have lost your voice. All of a sudden you have refused to man up. Instead, you are exercising your right to remain silent.
These trolls doesn’t have Salman Khan’s approval. They are scums of the gutter. They are sick people who should be dragged out of their Twitter holes and flogged in public. Yet, you remain silent. Why Farhan?
All those gyan that you keep doling in your speeches in five star hotels, in conclaves and press conferences…. are they all…like…publicity gimmicks?
Not only me, prominent media houses have had the courage to call you out too.
But you cannot care less.
What are you Farhan? The real deal? Or just as fake as the others?