A special meeting with union minister Piyush Goyal in Mumbai on Sunday to discuss the “myths and realities” about the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act saw mixed response from Bollywood.
CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi, producers Ritesh Sidhwani and Bhushan Kumar, directors Abhishek Kapoor, Kunal Kohli and Rajkumar Santoshi, musicians Anu Malik, Kailash Kher, Shaan, Suresh Wadekar, Neeraj Shridhar, and actor Ranvir Shorey were among those who attended the meeting at a suburban hotel amid heavy police security, which also saw the presence of BJP vice-president Baijayant Jay Panda.
“It was a good meeting. It's great to see the government reach out to clear the air regarding the CAA,” Shorey said. “I already had no issues with the CAA and I hope more people are not misled about it affecting any Indian citizen.”
A group of protesters staged a demonstration outside the hotel premises against the amended Citizenship Act. They held up placards against the government and Bollywood. “Bollywood we are watching. #MumbaiAgainstCAA," one of the posters read. Another placard read: "Don't disappoint yours fans. Reject CAA NPR NRC.”
According to sources, producer Mahaveer Jain sent the invite for the meeting to the industry insiders on Friday. Jain had also reportedly organised the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last January. A selfie featuring several Bollywood stars with Modi during that meeting had gone viral on social media.
The text of the invite for Sunday's meeting read: “The agenda of the meeting will be to facilitate a discussion on myths and realities pertaining to the Citizenship Amendment Act.”
The invite was also sent to other bigwigs of the industry, including Javed Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar, Richa Chadha, Kabir Khan and Karan Johar, but none of them turned up for the meeting. An industry insider, who turned down the invite, said it was obvious because "the meeting will be about nonsense".
It was earlier reported that the invite was not extended to actor Swara Bhasker, filmmakers Anubhav Sinha and Anurag Kashyap — all of whom have been vocal about their stand against the controversial law.
“The fact is that many dissidents like Farhan Akhtar were invited. Moreover, director Vipul Shah has confirmed that he had personally invited Anurag Kashyap and Swara Bhaskar as well. Several other celebrities from the industry were invited and were keen to attend, however, regretfully, they couldn’t come on account of being out of Mumbai on that day. This included Taapsee Pannu, Rajkummar Rao, Imtiaz Ali, Jaaved Jaaferi, Kangana Ranaut and Sonu Sood,” said a source close to Goyal.
Protests broke out across the country after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was cleared by Parliament and signed by President Ram Nath Kovind into an Act.
According to the Act, people from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come to India till December 31, 2014, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan due to religious persecution there will be given Indian citizenship. The protesters claim that the legislation was "unconstitutional and divisive" as it excludes Muslims.
Other Bollywood celebrities who have expressed their disappointment over the Citizenship Act are Farhan Akhtar, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Parineeti Chopra, Richa Chadha and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub.