How trolls have now turned into cyberbullying and into threats of death and rape and is the biggest fear for Bollywood apart from the Coronavirus
A dialogue that Sonakshi Sinha could very well say in Dabangg 4 would be, “Thappad se darr nahin lagta saab, trolling se lagta hai!”
With a hefty increase in cyberbullying aided by indiscriminate threats of rape and death being prevalent in the past four months of lockdown – a trend that increased manifold after the angst that transmogrified into reckless trolling of celebs and intimidations, Bollywood celebrities are all contemplating serious action with the police with proper First Information Reports (FIRs) and not just Non Cognisable complaints (NCs).
Thus far complaints had been registered by many only with the social media operators but now the cases are going offline and into the police station. Take for instance the police quizzing film critic and gossip writer Rajeev Masand on certain reviews allegedly thumbing down Sushant Singh Rajput’s performances or perhaps writing ‘blind items’ about Sushant’s alleged behaviour, film celebrities want to take serious action in a bid to quell the noise.
“In the olden days, the only form of public outrage to anything would be in the form of letters to the editor which would be addressed rather respectfully and published. There was no SMS either. Film stars ideally only received love letters and fan letter on their home addresses. The advent of social media and the exposure or rather the over exposure of stars and filmmakers has made them rather accessible to fans. The access is the problem that has metamorphosed into vulnerability of the stars to such threats and intimidation. There are times when even the celebrities are rather callous about what they post. However, in these lockdown times, fans too are sitting idle and have turned it into the proverbial devil’s workshop,” explains researcher and film historian Imtiaz Baghdadi.
The first thaw!
In early June Ekta Kapoor’s OTT platform Alt Balaji had hosted a show – and some scenes didn’t go down with the men in uniform. What followed was a ruthless trend by a reality TV star called Hindustani Bhau leading to rape and death threats to Ekta, her mother and her young son.
The feisty producer had deleted the scene in question, but was not ready to bow down to bullying and lodged a complaint with the police.
The Sushant Singh Rajput Aftermath
A week later Bollywood Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide (In India suicide and attempts to suicide were decriminalised in 2018) allegedly because he was shunned by those in power and the word nepotism became the most popular word in the fan dictionary.
As a result, everyone who were either star kids or people who gave breaks to star kids were acrimoniously targeted. Not only were they abused but they were also given threats of death and rape. Here is the laundry list
Victim: Karan Johar was the first victim of the trollers. They targeted him and his two kids and his mother and threatened them with death and rape.
Action: Karan who detoxed from social media unfollowing many of Twitter and making his account private and even started a new private Instagram account. Karan, who went into a shell after that is in talks with his legal counsel to initiate action against the ones trolling and threatening him.
Victim: Sonam Kapoor’s sister was threatened with death and rape as was Sonam on her Instagram account.
Action: While Sonam fumed at the social media platform, she is yet to initiate any legal action.
Victim: Alia Bhatt and her sister Shaheen were made a target. Shaheen received several threats in her Instagram inbox.
Action: Alia’s half-sister Pooja has urged her and Shaheen to take recourse to legal action and not spare the bullies, A formal complaint is to be registered soon.
Victim: Rhea Chakraborty who posted a note remembering Sushant Singh Rajput’s a month after his demise was threatened with rape and death
Action: Rhea filed a case after which two people were arrested.
Others who fell into the hatred list were Salman Khan and his proteges. Sonakshi Sinha, Zaheer Iqbal and Aayush Sharma decided to quit Twitter along with Huma Qureshi’s brother Saquib Saleem.
What action will be taken now?
It is now being said that most of these celebrities and others from the film fraternity may either file separate complaints or put in a singular case against the trollers to ensure that quick action is taken by the authorities in this matter.
“It is not just about taking action against the ones that have done this so far. It is also to bring in a stronger law that is beyond hefty fines and the minor imprisonment that is done nowadays. As police we can use the law and take action based on what the law is. Secondly these Bollywood people also need to get united and fight this in a bigger manner and file strong cases rather than mild ones. They are not keen to pursue cases and hence they get dropped soon,” says a senior police official on anonymity.
Last update: Anubhav Sinha is also threatening… but to quit Bollywood!