Akshay kick-starts debate on social issues
A country like ours needs examples to follow and therefore the choices that superstars like Akshay Kumar make navigate through the saviour ideology or redemptive ideology. Akshay Kumar has been in the industry from 1991 and has as of now more than 100 films to his credit. He is an actor, producer and martial artist. From his interviews and co-actors, we gather the fact that he is a disciplined actor. And therefore his lifestyle makes him the successful person that he is.
Akshay Kumar has never shied away from vouching for social causes whether in his movies or in the advertisements that he does. He has been an inspiration to many women, soldiers and the government at large. Even in his recent movie, ‘Lakxmii’ he chooses to be the saviour of the transgender community. Apart from the comedy franchise like ‘Housefull,’ the historical action-war films like ‘Kesari’ and other thrillers his movies with social issues and morals attract more crowd and get people talking.
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And when people talk about an issue that is portrayed in the films or written in literature, it becomes the starting point to further analysis. It may sound cliché to us as Akshay Kumar is the actor who acts in these movies consistently. But if he doesn’t who else will? The question, therefore, shouldn’t be why should Akshay Kumar act in these movies rather we should ask, are these movies having any impact on the general Indian public. The movies like, Airlift, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Pad Man, and Laxmii are among the many others that contain a social issue in them; these are recent in his filmography.
‘Airlift’ was a historical drama that portrayed the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and Ranjit Katyal (Akshay Kumar) had to evacuate the Indians based in Kuwait. The story is derived from a real-life instance. So doing this film awakened the Indians and created a sense of patriotism and love for the Indian citizens residing in other countries as refugees forced or unforced. The UN Refugee Agency states that there are 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide resulting from violence, persecution and conflict. 45.7 million internally displaced people according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). It is sad to note that these need a saviour, and there is no one to save them from their plight.
‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ was a comedy-drama movie that addressed the lazy administration, superstitions held by villagers, and stimulated the corrupt politicians. This film mirrored the sick mentality of certain cultures and societies. One might have found the movie preachy but it certainly made a point. In 2014, there were about 550 million people who were affected with lack of access to toilets in the country. But the Swachh Bharat program by the government has proved to be successful that it has reduced the number from 550 million to 50 million. In 2017, this movie was released, and it too made it easy to address this point and teach and make people unlearn certain already existing customs. Open defecation affects public health and the safety of women.
In ‘Pad Man’ and in one of his advertisements Akshay is seen encouraging the usage of pads and trying to produce cheaper pads. Health and sanitation are supposed to be provided by the government free of cost. But as we know the powerful keep exploiting the already exploited. The elite carries on with their corrupt activities. Is this going to be the constant? Will there not be any change? If we look at the world around us today, we don’t find any difference. What will make a difference then? These are questions that need to be answered, the discussion is already begun by the likes of Akshay Kumar through their art.
‘Laxmii’ portrays the atrocities done to the transgender community. Although the story is very basic atleast a discussion about the transgender is being initiated. The representation here may also fail but for now, the empowerment although not on a great scale is done. The transgender community feels that they need to be heard, policies are made by the government, NGO’s are working for the upliftment of the transgender but is it in anyway benefitting them?
Giving it a head start Akshay Kumar influential that he is has begun the race. Now it all depends on the government and the general public to alter and refine our mindsets. To unlearn many of the customs that we have blindly followed, to respect people and their orientations, to think of the common good and cater to the needs of the others in my society. We need to learn to speak up in whatever we do be it in art as an artist, teaching as professors and trainers, dance as dancers, our activism as social activists, in politics as politicians, in religion as religious leaders and so on. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” He also said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Being a betrayer is painful than being a saviour.
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