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Trolled and Hated, But That Ain’t Stopping ‘Critic’ Prakash Raj

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.

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Actor-director Prakash Raj has long been a harsh critic of Hindutva politics and right-wing extremism. Remember, in last October, when he claimed that Yogi Adityanath was a better actor than him?

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.

In the last few months, he has often kicked the hornet’s nest by showing utmost courage that most of his counterparts often fail to exude while criticising the establishment.

No wonder then that the BJP Yuva Morcha workers on Monday decided to perform a "cleansing drive" by sprinkling cow urine to “purify” the venue of a programme addressed by the actor. The 52-year-old actor, who has earned a reputation for not mincing his words, had this comeback.

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Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.

At a recent panel discussion, the actor refuted claims of him being “anti-Hindu.” But he proclaimed he was “anti-Modi, anti-Hegde, anti-Amit Shah” and said he firmly believes that they’re not Hindus.

Here’s a throwback to the best of the actor’s lines – as a critic of the establishment.

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When Raj Blamed ‘Invisible Hands’

Raj was in for a setback when his weekly column in the popular Kannada newspaper Udayavani was discontinued on 5 January. The actor took to Twitter to convey his dissatisfaction at the newspaper's decision, referring to it as a "surgical strike" and alleging the role of "invisible hands".

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.

Meanwhile, the daily's editor Shiva Subramanya dismissed his allegation that the discontinuation of Raj's column was dictated by political motives.

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On Nationalism & Hindutva

The actor slammed Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde for his comments linking nationalism and Hindutva. He took umbrage to Hegde’s comments in Belagavi on the occasion of Ambedkar’s death anniversary on 6 December, where he said that Hindutva and nationalism are not separate identities.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.

He also questioned Hegde about prominent Indian personalities who were not Hindu, including Abdul Kalam, BR Ambedkar, AR Rahman, Khushwant Singh, Amrita Pritam and Dr Verghese Kurien.

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When He Questioned the PM’s Silence Over Gauri Lankesh’s Murder

Prakash Raj, a dear friend of deceased journalist Gauri Lankesh, lashed out at the Prime Minister’s silence on her murder – and the subsequent refusal to condemn the celebration of her death by alleged right-wing supporters on social media.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.

He further hit out at the Centre for failing to fulfill the promises made and for putting up a facade .

You can’t make me believe by making promises of good days. See, I’m a bigger actor than you people (Modi government) and I can tell when you are acting. When you act as if you don’t know anything, do you think I or people will buy it?
Prakash Raj
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On Voices of Dissent Getting Stifled

Again, in solidarity with his friend Lankesh, the actor in December called upon the society to fight attempts to suppress voices of dissent and creativity in the country.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.
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On the Film Fraternity’s Silence Over Censorship

The actor warned ‘fascist forces’ saying that, “When you silence a voice, a louder voice will be born” while addressing a media gathering in Bengaluru.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.
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On Ban on ‘S Durga’

On 8 December 2017, the actor in a fiery speech in Kerala appealed to the film fraternity to stand up and speak while hailing the state for standing out in a growing intolerant society. Raj was among the few people who spoke up against the censorship on Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s film S Durga.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.
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On ‘Padmaavat’ Row

The backlash against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s has escalated to unimaginable heights. In a Twitter post, the veteran actor joined the list of celebrities who have now come out in support of Bhansali’s film.

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On Actors Joining Politics

Clearly, Raj isn’t impressed by actors who switch to politics. He’s taken a stand to call the move of the likes of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan “a disaster”.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.
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On His Entry Into Politics

Calling a spade a spade has been Raj’s motto. After facing backlash for being a left-wing sympathiser and being trolled for questioning the PM’s silence over Gauri Lankesh’s murder, he said “My comments stemmed out of sheer concern. I don’t speak to please somebody,” he clarified.

However, he also refuted rumours of his imminent entry into politics.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.
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On Brands Getting Uneasy

On being questioned when brands that he endorses are skittish over his recent comments, actor Prakash Raj replied in affirmation.

Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India.
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Never before has an actor from the fraternity voiced concerns beyond the realm of cinema. Raj’s remarks have raised a storm in newsrooms with social media junkies’ going berserk over his unequivocal stance on matters of public interest. #JustAsking, a movement started by the actor on Twitter is his fight to be, first, an honest and a fearless citizen of the country.

While the political motives, or the lack thereof, Raj’s maverick-like belligerence does seem unique at a time when dissent is under an unprecedented attack in India and actors chose to stay mum while voicing out concerns. The 52-year-old actor has certainly manifested courage in raising pertinent issues around the status-quo.

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(With inputs from The Hindu)

(We Indians have much to talk about these days. But what would you tell India if you had the chance? Pick up the phone and write or record your Letter To India. Don’t be silent, tell her how you feel. Mail us your letter at lettertoindia@thequint.com. We’ll make sure India gets your message.)

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Topics:  Bengaluru   Indian   PM Modi 

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