Anindya Banerjee & Anand Singh
New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) While BJP’s outreach to film industry on January 5 in a five star hotel in Mumbai on the issue of Citizenship Act has been dubbed as a damp squib with A-listers like lyricist Javed Akhtar, filmmaker and actor Farhan Akhtar, filmmaker Kabir Khan giving it a miss, BJP sources claim quite the contrary.
“Several renowned Bollywood icons like Bhushan Kumar, Prasoon Joshi, Anu Malik, Kailash Kher, Shaan, Kunal Kohli and Ranvir Shorey were among those who came for the meet,” claimed BJP sources.
CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi, producers Ritesh Sidhwani and Bhushan Kumar, director Abhishek Kapoor and actor Ranvir Shorey were among the Bollywood personalities who attended a special meeting with Union minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday. The invite was on behalf of both Goyal and Baijayant Jay Panda, BJP Vice President.
After attending the four-hour interactive session, Shorey expressed happiness at the government reaching out to clear misconceptions about the Citizenship Amendment Act, that sparked off nationwide protests, calling it discriminatory. Shorey came under intense heat for attending the event which was followed by a dinner. Soon after he took to Twitter to assert, “The word “scrumptious” was nowhere on my invitation, and I skipped dinner last night. Would have skipped the meeting too, if it would help the situation in any way. But I know the commies will keep protesting instead of talking. #CAAProtests”
Following media reports that the outreach event was “ignored”, a BJP source cited names of as much as 60 people from the industry who attended the do on January 5. Apart from the established names of the industry earlier quoted by a BJP source, ad film maker Pralhad Kakkar, eminent photographer Atul Kasbekar, Fukre Director Mrigh Deep Singh Lamba, Hindi film Director Aruna Raje were also among those who attended the event.
After the event, ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakar threw his weight behind CAA citing even America has a religious persecution law. Singer Shaan said after the event that he felt “much more reassured and relieved” after the interaction on CAA. Facing similar heat like Shorey did for merely attending the event, Shaan replied to his critics, “We were there for a dialogue and to put forth thoughts and fears… we were heard and given sufficient information and explanation. Don’t turn everything dirty.”
IANS has reliably learnt that guests came thirty minutes ahead for the 8 p.m. meeting and stayed till 12 midnight.
Replying to certain criticism that many were selectively not invited, a BJP source said, “The reports are baseless and are contradictory in nature by claiming on the one hand that ‘people did not attend’ and on the other, they are stating that ‘people were not invited’.” Giving examples, the source cited names of Tapsee Pannu, Rajkumar Rao, Imtiaz Ali, Jaaved Jafari, Kangana Ranaut, Sonu Sood as those who were invited and were keen to attend. However, the source claims, they regretted giving it a miss because they were not in Mumbai on the given day.
Calling it a “grand success”, the BJP source expressed happiness at being able to dispel a lot of “misconceptions” regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act, which seeks to help Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to obtain Indian Citizenship.
The BJP has kicked off a nationwide outreach where everyone from party President Amit Shah to the district level leadership are pressed into action to go to people and answer their queries on CAA. January 5 meeting with the entertainment industry was part of that endeavour.