On Sunday, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray had taken shots at the affairs of the Bollywood film fraternity, while urging the opposition to unite for a Modi-mukt Bharat. Not only did he criticise the government for giving a state funeral to the late actress Sridevi, but he also questioned Akshay Kumar ’s nationality, claiming that his recent films like Toilet Ek Prem Katha and PadMan were simply covert propaganda by the government to further their schemes.
“Akshay Kumar is not even an Indian citizen. He holds a Canadian passport and Wikipedia describes him as an Indian-born Canadian actor,” he said while addressing his party workers at a rally. However, PadMan director R. Balki replied to the MNS chief, defending his work.
R. Balki, whose film PadMan is based on the life of social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, says a biopic cannot be part of any propaganda. “My film is based on someone’s life, so it obviously cannot be anybody’s propaganda. I don’t know what he [Thackeray] has stated, but these films are important,” Balki said.
The director further explains that these projects have led to a positive conversation around important topics like open-defecation and menstrual hygiene,topics that people usually shy away from talking about. He goes on to say that few ventures have ever achieved what these films have. “They have spread awareness about important issues, and have done it in a way that few other ventures could.”
In an interview with Mid-day, the actor himself had highlighted the importance of using cinema to create awareness about social issues. “I made PadMan with the hope that families could become aware of the importance of menstrual hygiene. Nobody is interested in speeches or documentaries. They are interested in learning about a subject through films.”