13 May, 2021

Muddy Lotuses

Is being a celeb enough to deserve an award now?

Muddy Lotuses

The pomp and ceremony are all extant but the circumstance is starting to rankle. Over the years, the taint of political patronage has essentially robbed the Padma awards of their stature and significance. This year was no different, with celebrities who backed the government on the ­intolerance debate having the honour of displaying a Padma award on their mantelpiece. Anupam Kher, the most vocally loyal, gets the biggest—a Padma Bhushan and tweets about it being the “biggest day of my life.” There were others who would feature in the political patronage column, but this year’s awards had another serious shocker. Two of the Padma Shri awardees, Ajay Devgn and Priyanka Chopra, may have had careers that qualify them for official benediction but here’s the catch: they both endorse pan masala brands. A Padma for carcinogens? Sounds rather unpalatable.

Devgn (numerology has contracted it from Devgan) is currently seen in a TV commercial popping a mouthful of Vimal pan masala and then smearing rose petals all over a woman’s face. What the...

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