On Wednesday night, a galaxy of Bollywood stars – including Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Mallika Sherawat, Elli Avram, Karishma Tanna and Alia Bhatt - flew to Uttar Pradesh to take part in Saifai festival, organised by politician Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit
Given that the state has been in the news for the riots in Muzaffarnagar and the scores of people who have been rendered homeless, this 20 crore celebration is now being viewed as an ostentatious and insensitive affair.
Elli Avram, Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan, Mallika Sherawat, Karishma Tanna in the event
Social media, for one, has already gone into an overdrive expressing anguish over the unabashed display of power and entertainment at a time when the state is reeling under the impact of riots and could have easily directed the sum towards helping needy refugees. Says an insider, “This was no charity event; all the stars were paid handsomely. In fact, the decision to make Madhuri’s latest film tax free in the state has also not been received well in some sections.”
Not surprisingly, stars who participated in the event have now come under the scanner. This wave of scrutiny has now led to celeb clarifications. For instance, Salman posted on his facebook page that whenever he visits a place for a performance or a promotion, he looks for opportunities to help the locals – be it in the areas of healthcare or education. “In Etawah, Being Human, on behalf of all artists who performed yesterday, has committed to fund 200 paediatric heart surgeries in UP,” says his post, while Eli Avram and Alia Bhatt remained unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, some actors believe that performing at the festival is part of their job. “As an actor, it’s my job to entertain and perform at different platforms. My heart goes out to the people who have suffered in the state but in all honesty, if actors like Salman and Madhuri can perform at such an event, then I don’t see why I can’t do the same,” says actress Karishma Tanna.