Is Amitabh’s honor under attack for his perceived closeness with Modi?
Kuchh din toh guzaariye Gujarat me…
(Spend a few days in Gujarat)
Resonated Amitab’s voice on TV screens and FM stations across India. Gujarat couldn’t have found a better voice to endorse. Amitabh couldn’t have found a bigger thorn stuck in his throat!
In 2010, Amitabh Bachchan was appointed brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism and his honor, hard earned over a lifetime, was put on the anvil and has been there since. The unwritten rule in India then was, “You cannot endorse Narendra Modi!” And though Mr. Bachhan wasn’t, he was endorsing the land on which Mr Modi walked, the air he breathed, the administration he ran and it was just as big a crime as endorsing Modi! In an interview, Barkha Dutt wondered why a secular person like Mr Bachchan would endorse a controversial person like Narendra Modi, to which he clarified that he was not endorsing Modi, but Gujarat, yet there was no stopping the slander-cart. Rumors floated around that he took crores of money for Gujarat Tourism ads which were turned out to be false. He didn’t take a single penny for the endorsement. The targeting only became more vicious. Abhishek Bachchan’s message for Earth Hour was blocked out in Delhi at the last moment! It was an open secret that this was done because Abhishek is Mr. Bachhan’s son, who was endorsing Gujarat, which was led by Mr Modi. BJP identified it as a matter of personal vendetta.
The rumor factory started working overtime after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India. Mr Bachhan is one of the most respected public figures in India. Showing him in bad light is not an easy task. The efforts have to be sustained and subtle, and so have they been as we shall see.
How do you malign a person whose work ethics are exemplary, whose public life is unblemished and who is held in high regards by every single person in his fraternity and by every movie buff in India and anyone abroad who knows Indian cinema? You malign his motivations. You introduce a doubt that the legend of his high moral standards is just a part acted out. You show how he is charges fat cheques even for simple social messaging!
On July 17, 2015 The Hindu came up with an article “Bachchan’s MSP for DD’s Kisan Channel: Rs. 6.31 crore”. This led to an outrage and shaming of Mr. Bachchan. Many questioned the authenticity of this news to which then editor of The Hindu tweeted that they stand by their story and the very first reply completely shattered her stand atop the brave high pedestal.
— Kartikeya Tanna (@KartikeyaTanna) July 20, 2015
The intention behind this ‘Story’ is very clear from Mr Shekhar Gupta’s tweet.
Can't grudge Amitabh Bachchan his mky value.,But if DD Kisan Channel spends 1/6 of its budget on just AB, it's a scam http://t.co/zQO6c7VadQ
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) July 17, 2015
The aim appears multifold. (1) To show that the Modi Govt is unnecessarily wasting money on expensive celebrity endorsements. A case of mismanagement and wastage. (2) Modi is doing favors for Mr. Bachchan possibly as a payback for his services for Gujarat tourism. (3) Creating a psychosis in the creative circles by targeting the biggest most powerful name in Bollywood, in this way anybody breaking ranks and seen with those forbidden by the entrenched class will have to face odds in the form of character assassination.
But putting the controversy to rest, Mr. Bachchan tweeted this:
T 1936 – My press statement on DD Kisan Channel matter ..!! pic.twitter.com/PG9FBF2khL
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) July 20, 2015
And the next day, The Hindu’s headline changes to:
…No apologies, no regrets!!
In another instance, Mr Bachchan had done an ad for Maggi and when it failed FSSAI lab tests and was banned, an FIR was filed against him just because he had done an ad for it!
Later that year, Amitabh Bachchan participated in PM Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan. After few days Indian Express did a story– “Ghar wapsi: Damage control? Amitabh Bachchan ‘secular’ ad” alleging that Big B has been tasked with revamping Modi government’s “secular image” after the Ghar Wapasi controversy. Very crafty indeed, as it subtly sought to establish:
- Mr Bachhan is in humble service of Mr Modi.
- Ghar Wapasi has to be associated with BJP.
Again Big B ended this rumor with a clarification on twitter:
T 1724 -The news by media that PM and PMO have asked me to be involved in a campaign film, is incorrect !! Kindly rectify .. thank you !!
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) January 1, 2015
The latest hitjob is one where Amitabh Bachchan allegedly charged 4 crores for singing the National Anthem at India vs Pakistan cricket match at Kolkata. Sourav Ganguly clarified that Mr. Bachchan hadn’t taken a dime to sing the national anthem, instead, he payed for the travel, hotel and tickets, expenses amounting to about 30 lakhs from his own pocket. It didn’t stop here, later an FIR was filed against him for taking more than 52 seconds to sing national anthem and pronouncing ‘Sindh’ as ‘Sindhu’!
We wonder why there’s such persistent effort to assassinate Mr Bachhan’s character!
We identify a trend, Mr Bachhan is not the only one. Other public figures like Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who endorsed Narendra Modi as a capable PM candidate during 2014 LS elections have also been under fire with malicious attacks. They have also been victims of fake news, rumors, ridicule and character assassination. When Anupam Kher came out in against the “intolernce bogey” and did his “March For India”, he was seen as supporting PM Modi rather than standing for India’s honor. He’s been hounded at every oppportunity ever since. Vivek Agnihotri’s movie “Buddha in a traffic jam” is not allowed to screen at various film festivals in India, is rejected by major theatres at the last moment even though it has won awards and critical acclaim in film festivals abroad, only because his movie is perceived as critical of the UPA government, and he is seen as a supporter of PM Modi!
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) March 19, 2016
However in Mr Bachchan’s case, he has not even campaigned for PM Modi ever, he has not unequivically endorsed him and always tried to steer clear of the associated politics. He has always held that his work is only for the nation. This is what he had to say in an interview given to India Tv:
Video courtesy- India tv
It’s not even that Big B has become brand ambassador for only BJP Govt, in 2014 he became Maharashtra’s Horticulture Ambassador, when Maharashtra had a Congress gonvernment. Yet ou media and a certain section of eminent citizens are hell bent to prove that he’s PM Modi’s crony.
Bachchan is the face of Guj tourism, Modi Govt's insurance/pension schemes,DD kisan.Wonder if any star was used this much by a govt before?
— Vasudha Venugopal (@vasudha_ET) January 8, 2016
The agenda looks rather clear- Modi is not supposed to be honored, he is supposed to be a political untouchable, and anyone who contributes to a change in this perception will be made to lose his own honor!