“And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.” – Donald Trump, Republican Candidate for the US Presidency
“I am happy to be part of a good cause that spreads love.” – Shriya Saran, actor, about performing at a fundraiser for Trump.
Several Indian film stars, including Prabhu Deva and Shriya Saran, performed at a charity event organised by Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) on Saturday in New Jersey. The event, named ‘Humanity United against Terror’, was aimed at boosting Donald Trump’s flailing electoral campaign, by raising money and votes from Indian American voters and donors. The event came just as criticism against the US presidential candidate for his stand against Muslims, women, immigrants etc. has hit a fever pitch.
Although the event was billed as a fundraiser for ‘victims of terror’, the sympathies of the organisers clearly resided with one category of people – Hindu NRIs living in the US to the exclusion of everyone else. The list of artistes who danced at the event included Prabhu Deva, Shriya Saran, Malaika Arora Khan, Sophie Choudry, Akhil Akkineni and Manasvi Mamgai. The original lineup had more stars in it, with actors like Shahid Kapoor, Illeana D’Cruz and Ram Charan. However, they backed out days before the event. Ram Charan cited a medical emergency in the family, while Ileana turned down RHC’s invitation as she doesn’t support the candidature of Donald Trump.
In a Facebook post, Ram Charan said that he was ‘deeply disheartened for not being able to make it to an event of such generosity’, and congratulated RHC for ‘such a noble initiative’.
Shriya Saran said she was happy to be part of a ‘good cause’ that ‘spread love’. However, the event, apparently, was quite not about spreading love. A journalist who attended the event, tweeted the picture of a flier that was being distributed at the venue which showed Sonia Gandhi and Hillary Clinton sporting the ‘devil’s horns’ poised to frame Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for the 2002 Gujarat Pogrom. At a corner of the flier, is a picture of a man belonging to ‘Hillary’s NGO’ examining cattle bones.
Was just handed this at Hindu event in NJ where Trump is about to speak pic.twitter.com/yiAOG3b5vm
— Ben Schreckinger (@SchreckReports) 15 October 2016
The flier was just one of the baffling things that happened at the event. Here is another poster which shows Trump seated on a Lotus, which is the electoral symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party:
— Sowmiya Ashok (@sowmiyashok) 16 October 2016
There was also a ‘jihadi dance number’ where men in black, holding light bulbs, posing as terrorists, pretend to attack the dancers, who were then rescued by the US Navy.
At the Republican Hindu Coalition Trump event, fake Michael Jackson was followed by dancers attacked by jihadists and rescued by Navy Seals: pic.twitter.com/Ta90bv3Lw5
— Arif Rafiq (@ArifCRafiq) 15 October 2016
In a leaked audio tape from 2005 that was obtained and released by Washington Post last week, Trump was heard making lewd comments on women. In the tape, Trump boasts about his sexual advances on women and claims that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”
However, actress-model Manasvi Mamgai, one of the stars who shook a leg with Trump on Saturday night, advocates Trump’s candidature and refuses to believe that the allegations against him are true. According to a TOI report, Mamgai says that the groping and harassment allegations against Trump are “fabricated,” and he is just like Modi. “I think he will be great for Indians,” she was quoted by TOI.
However, notable absentees included Anupam Kher, whose video on the Kashmiri Pandit exodus was screened at the event. The actor reportedly finds Trump ‘disastrous’.
Trump’s statement at the event that he was a ‘big fan of Hindu’, has made him a butt of jokes on Twitter. “Height of stupidity, misinformation & tacky-ness ‘I’m a big fan of Hindu’ I’m also a big fan of Christian! :),” tweeted actress Swara Bhaskar.
Height of stupidity, misinformation & tacky-ness ‘I’m a big fan of Hindu’ ?I’m also a big fan of Christian! 🙂 🙂 https://t.co/aNFNysDmOW
— Swara Bhaskar (@ReallySwara) 16 October 2016
Trump just invented a country: “I am a big fan of Hindu and I am a big fan of India.”
— Tim O’Brien (@TimOBrien) 15 October 2016
Shalabh Kumar and The Republican Hindu Coalition
The Republican Hindu Coalition was formed in 2015 by Shalabh Kumar, a Chicago-based business man who aims to increase the participation of Hindus in Republican politics. Reportedly, Kumar has donated about $1.5 million to Trump’s campaign. Kumar is particularly impressed with Trump’s views on Islam and Muslim profiling. In an interview with The Hill, Kumar said, “The way the Muslim religion is being practiced today — it’s not the religion but the way it is being practiced today — there’s something wrong…The policy setting is that we need to have a lot of scrutiny. I totally agree with [former Speaker] Newt Gingrich : Mosques should be monitored completely, vetting should be taking place. … I am totally for profiling. If you need to profile, what is the fuss?”.
Film Stars And Social Responsibility
This is not the first that film stars are in the spotlight for exhibiting irresponsibility towards a sensitive issue. In 2014, a group of Bollywood stars including Salman Khan, Alia Bhatt and Madhuri Dixit came under criticism for participating in a lavish cultural night organised by Uttar Pradesh government, spending a sum of Rs. 20 crore, at a time when many children died in Muzaffaranagar riots refugee camp out of cold and disdain. The camps have few amenities and even less by way of security. The stars were accused of being apathetic towards the sufferings of the refugees and being indifferent to social issues.
Featured Image Courtesy: The Indian Express