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Megastar Amitabh Bachchan threatens a troll and tweets ‘thok do saale ko

Farooq Shah

IN 2017, Amitabh Bachchan sent a legal notice to Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) leader Kumar Vishwas for reciting one of Harivansh Rai Bachchan’spoem in a video. The notice also demanded that Vishwas reimburse Bachchan whatever earnings he received for the recitation.

Vishwas, in response to the notice, deleted the video and promised to pay Bachchan Rs 32 he earned from it.

This set off a storm on social media and rightly so. Nobody expected Bachchan to sue an enthusiast for a mere recitation of his father’s work, much less demand reimbursement, rather than expressing humility for what’s essentially an honor.

“What his baritone voice, impeccable language, recitals of his father’s poetry, dilly-dallying with powers that be and pretentious laughter could never hide, was Bachchan’s pettiness and complete lack of grace,” a user of social media, Celine Mary, wrote in her Facebook post.

Bachchan’s recent belligerence, aggressiveness and reacting in a manner unbecoming for the dignity of a global celebrity that he is—on an nameless faceless troll’s wishing him death—quickly eroded sympathy and support for him.

“Now with his “thok do saale ko”, he yet again displayed what he really is – a troll himself, as contemptible as the one who wished him death,” Mary reacted to Bachchan’s rant.

The megastar took to his blog, addressing one “Mr Anonymous”, and wrote that the troll was trying to gain a sense of self-importance by attacking a star like him.

“If I die, you won’t get to write your diatribe anymore, by weathering your remark on a celebrity name. Pity, for, the reason of your writing to be noticed was, because you took a swipe at Amitabh Bachchan, that shall no longer exist.

The 77-year-old actor, along with son Abhishek, was admitted to Nanavati Hospital on July 11 after he tested positive for the novel Coronavirus. Less than a week later, his daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, was also admitted at the hospital, after testing positive for coronavirus on July 12. Her daughter Aaradhya had also tested positive for the virus.

While the megastar wrote his blogpost in English, he chose Hindi to write the “thok do saale ko” cuss phrase as if addressing a specific audience. Bachchan said though he has not asked his fans to take any action against the troll, if he survives Covid-19, he will. However, he pledged to “exterminate” such trolls once out of hospital by asking his millions of fans to turn on them.

“That extended family shall in the flash of an eye become ‘extermination family’,” he wrote while describing his fans as his kin.

Bachchan, after a few decades of demigod status in Bollywood, is the very baritone of authority in the Indian film industry. The iconic actor is a household name in India who has been extensively involved in campaigns like Swachh Bharat, Covid-19, malnutrition, etc. and helped mobilize millions of Indians in the right direction. These campaigns, by virtue of his massive following, have been wholeheartedly welcomed by the entire nation.

It is most definitely unusual for a man with such enormous power to address an anonymous troll and use phrases as pedestrian and incendiary as “thok do saale ko” so openly. For a celebrity who has worked for more than half a century in the film industry, to lose his cool in such indignant manner, is quite appalling as well as disturbing. In a country like India where extremist ideologies, of late, have been promoted with due patronage from the ruling class, the kind of outburst as expressed by Mr Bachchan shall have far-reaching consequences.

Describing Bachchan replying to the troll as “unfortunate” and “not in good taste”, Ahmadabad based human rights activist, Fr. Cedric Prakash, senses an undercurrent of dark foreboding as to how it might translate into action.

“Given the polarised situation of the country today, with some of the bigots spewing venom through hate speeches, I really think that Amitabh replying to some anonymous troll with such strong words, is not in good taste, it is very unfortunate,” Fr Prakash said. “He would have added some ‘value’ points to his own battered image— if he just ignored it.”

In her tweet, senior editor Times of India, Bharti Jain, who reports on home ministry and security affairs, wrote: “Thok do saale ko’ sounds a bit too filmy even for a film star. Surely you can overlook the few crazy critics among your 90 million followers.”

Author of the article “Lynching has become the new normal in India,” on siyasat.net, Fr Prakash however believes Amitabh has already stirred a hornet’s nest and some of his ‘chelas’ would certainly add to the rant and rave.

“Whatever s**t you write, at least don’t instigate the mob to take law in their hands,” Deeptangshu, @DeeptangshuK, echoes similar concerns. “The ‘Rule of Law’ situation is already extremely precarious in this country.”

Co-founder Newslaundry, Abhinandan Sekhri (@AbhinandanSekhr), while reacting to the noted journalist and TV anchor, Vir Sanghvi’s tweet, “Amitabh Bachchan gives it back to a troll who wishes him dead & you can hardly blame him,” retorted: “Completely disagree. I read the piece and his outburst. It should be called out for its pettiness, regressive insult and violent threat. Can’t be condoned. Can’t be given a pass just cos his work brings joy to millions.”

“From ‘khoon kaa badlaa khoon’ then to ‘thok do saale ko’ now, no surprises from the nation’s #1 WhatsApp Uncle,” Managing editor, Scroll.in, Sundeep Dougal, wrote in his Twitter post, adding: “Quite in keeping with the “golii maaro saaloN ko” crowd.”

Pertinently, a prime witness in 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Jagdish Kaur, had told Times of India that everyone who had been watching Doordarshan saw how superstar Amitabh Bachchan provoked the rioters”.

“I wonder why no one in India lodged case against Amitabh Bachchan for provoking killing of Sikhs, ” Kaur said.

Amitabh Bachchan was summoned by the federal court of Los Angeles for allegedly instigating violence against the Sikh Community in 1984. The petition against Bachchan was filed by Sikhs for Justice legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.  According to the petition, Bachchan instigated the attacks. He allegedly raised slogans saying, “Khoon ka Badla Khoon se lenge” (“Blood for Blood”) after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.

Another twitter user, Harshit Agarwal @Citizen_Agarwal, said: “I strongly think think #SupremeCourt #bombayhc should consider this statement under suo moto cognizance because it seriously undermines the rule of law and promotes anarchy.”

“Doesn’t this amount to inciting violence,” questioned another user.

India’s national capital saw its worst violence in seven decades in February, with two and a half days of rioting leaving at least 53 dead, many more injured and thousands affected.

Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalises and punishes making statements, speeches or acts which have the effect of disturbing public tranquillity or law and order by promoting enmity or creating fear or alarm between classes of people on basis of difference in religion, caste, language or place of birth.

Given the recent uptick in prejudicial and violent sentiments against minorities and critics of the government in the prevailing political climate, it is important that people of reasonable authority maintained their cool in order not to vitiate a peaceful environment. They should contribute more towards building national harmony and win hearts rather than allowing themselves to be a target of hate-mongers and trolls.

  • Author is a senior journalist 

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