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The meaning of being a celebrity in an age of rapes and protests

It has been a long-standing tradition that actors and filmmakers keep their safe distance from burning issues affecting the common man directly. Those who broke this taboo were destined to don the full-time politician’s cap.

But, after the 2000s, major film industries like Kollywood witnessed another phenomenon in which filmmakers and actors who had been making popular and entertaining movies started to actively participate in controversial social issues without riling about the image trap. They have achieved a balance between engaging with real-life issues while making movies to entertain the masses.

The ongoing protests against the central government’s delay in setting up the Cauvery Management Board brought many film personalities to the forefront. When the protest against the central government culminated in a violent backlash against CSK’s home matches in the IPL, filmmakers like Bharathiraja, Seeman, Ameer, Ram, and Vetrimaaran were seen among the protesters.

The change in attitude was even more visible when reports about the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua set social media platforms ablaze. The girl’s body was recovered from a forest on January 17, a week after she went missing. According to reports, she was held captive inside a temple, sedated, repeatedly raped, and eventually murdered.

Reports detailing the nuances of the crime stirred intense and raging protests and call for justice. Bollywood film personalities like Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Swara Bhaskar, along with many others, came forward demanding justice. "I am sorry my child, we didn't make this country safe enough for you. I'll fight for justice at least for future kids like you. We mourn you and won't forget you," wrote a visibly shaken Kamal Haasan on Twitter.

In a protest held at Valluvar Kottam, actors Vishal, Karthi, Prasanna, and many others joined hands with the protesters and demanded strict laws against rape culture spreading across the nation. Actor Vijay Sethupathi publicly lashed out at the culprits and those who support them. “Every one of us should understand that there are women in our own house,” he reminded us in front of the television cameras.

Reports of an alleged rape of a minor in Uttar Pradesh by an MLA from Unnao constituency, and the death of the victim’s father in judicial custody afterwards, also raised serious discussions and protests regarding the alarming growth of rape culture. These phenomena indicate a new breed of filmmakers and actors who walk with the common man and fight hand-in-hand with them for a common cause.

They are not just concerned about piracy or tax issues anymore. If the indicators are correct, the glass door effect between film fraternity and the common man is slowly dissolving. With the mutual interaction through social media platforms bring both the parties closer, positive change can expect to be seen on the screen too. The meaning of being a celebrity in an age of shocking rape culture and raging protests is very different from the old times, and we will understand what exactly it is soon.

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