Did Anna Hazare`s fast turn into a show?

Last Updated: Apr 17, 2011, 17:37 PM IST

New Delhi: Anna Hazare`s fast against corruption found many supportive voices within the film world but many were left wondering whether it was cause or the crowd that drew Bollywood celebrities to the issue.

The movement and its anti-corruption slogan caught the fancy of the public but like most of the public events, it had its share of publicity seekers.

It was also one of the rare events when Bollywood celebs jumped over each other to pledge their support to the 73-year-old activist and his five-day fast.

Aamir Khan wrote a letter to the Prime Minister. Anupam Kher, Pritish Nandy and Tom Alter not only tweeted but also visited the protest site in Delhi. Director Farah Khan, who was in the city for a reality show, visited Hazare so did Madhur Bhandarkar, whose visit was informed to the media organisations in advance.

Rest of B-town expressed their solidarity with Hazare on twitter. Celebs like Hritik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Kher, Bhatt, Juhi Chawla, Neetu Chandra, Shekhar Kapur, Rahul Bose, Manoj Bajpai and many other posted messages through twitter,
blogs and press releases.

But was the outpouring of celebrity support genuine or mere lip-service from Bollywood?

Actor Anupam Kher feels that the movement should not be viewed cynically.

"A long time back I stopped bothering about people`s reaction. I do what I think is right for the country and the future generation. As regard to getting publicity out of it, I think every actor should have been there, they could also have got some publicity," Kher said.

Kher is also happy with the way media took up the issue.

"Media did a great job and I think we should not be cynical about people`s intentions. It is very sad that when people do something good and we try to make them feel defensive about it," he added.

But many within the industry were left wondering about the intention of some of the celebrities and their sympathy. Some also questioned media`s role in extracting comments from film stars for sound bites.

Mega star Amitabh Bachchan was forced to react after a blogger questioned him for not taking a stand on the issue.

An irked Big B wondered about media`s role in the entire episode, before saying, "I do not have to preach and shout out my allegiance towards my country from every roof top every day."
Actor Abhishek Bachchan too voiced his dismay over the way his father`s intentions were questioned.

"It`s very unfair that he was criticised for not saying anything. Just because he is a public figure does he have to react on a public platform to everything? It`s very convenient for the media to hold people at ransom, put their mics in front of us and ask, `What are you doing?`," Abhishek said.

"In my personal opinion, just me going onto Twitter and writing `I support this or that` is actually depleting the cause because I am just saying it for the sake of saying it.

Support needs to be in deed, not mere words. Just saying something, because it is fashionable to do so, is not enough," he added.

Well aware of the zooming cameras, some celebrities first informed the media organisations about their "good intentions" before declaring their support to Hazare movement.

"Not to take away from Anna Hazare, but what about Erom Sharmila`s fast for 11-years? Most of the celebrities who came out to support, are they even aware of what is Lokpal Bill?

Also, we should take this media activism with a pinch of salt," a director commented on the sudden outpour of celebrity support.

Bhatt, who has been active on twitter and has written articles in newspapers, feels that the cause is just, but needs more than lip-service.

"Anna`s cause is absolutely legitimate and pure. He is raising a voice which all concerned Indians have raised in every age. But the monster of corruption has been created by each one of us in our own way.

"It`s important that corrupt officers, bureaucrats and politicians are cut to size by some kind of legislation which monitors them. But finally, the war against corruption can be won only by the people," Bhatt added.

PTI