GUWAHATI: The 65th Filmfare Awards ceremony was for the first time held outside Mumbai Saturday in Guwahati, Assam. The state has reportedly spent somewhere between Rs 20-Rs 30 crore out of its Rs 300-crore tourism budget for the Bollywood extravaganza. Assam has been on the boil for the last few months due to the anti-CAA-NRC protests.
The Filmfare Awards this year saw several Bollywood stars fly into Guwahati on Saturday as fans came out in thousands at the airport to catch a glimpse of their favourite celebrities.
The timing of the the Filmfare Awards in Assam couldn’t have been more wrong. This appears more as a ploy to diffuse the anti-CAA movement in the state. Two months since five people were killed, including a 17-year old musician who was shot down by the police, Assam has witnessed intermittent internet shutdowns and lockdowns.
Even though the BJP-led Assam government had signed the MoU with the event’s organisers in November, any other sentimental, people’s government would have cancelled the event. It is pretty evident that the BJP government wants to bury the anti-CAA voices behind the glitz of Filmfare.
This is nothing more than an attempt to divert the public’s attention from the protests, and create a smokescreen to prove to the rest of the country that the people of Assam have made peace with the CAA.
The Filmfare Awards ceremony is nothing more than a private corporate affair — it will in no way promote Assamese culture and heritage, whose dimming significance is the only primary cause behind the anti-CAA agitations in the state. From an economic standpoint too, spending Rs 20 crore-Rs 30 crore on an indoor private event — when each year floods erode property worth lakhs of rupees and render thousands homeless — is nothing but an exercise without any vision.
The event also encountered a peaceful protest by those demonstrating against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). A group of anti-CAA protesters, led by a famous Assamese folk singer Manas Robin carried placards to draw Bollywood’s attention towards the anti-CAA protests in Assam.
The protesters held placards with the messages like ‘Dear Sir, Akshay Kumar, we love you so much’, ‘Dear Madhuri ma’am, we love you so much’, and waved it at Bollywood stars before being chased away by the police. Some protesters were detained and released later, police sources said.
The protesters were not against the Filmfare Awards, but they wanted to send a message to bollywood by their protests. They wanted the film industry to be aware of why Assam has been strongly protesting against the controversial new citizenship law, Manas Robin said.
Massive protests against the CAA, which makes religion test of citizenship in India for the first time, have swept the country in the last three months. The government has said it will grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2015.
While critics say that the law can be used to target Muslims in combination with the planned National Register of Citizens or NRC, the government says it is intended to help those who have faced religious persecution in the neighbouring countries.
The law has also seen severe opposition in Assam and other northeastern states where indigenous communities believe it could be used to legalise lakhs of settlers from Bangladesh.
(Bureau Report with agency Inputs).