Mainstream Bollywood stars are often criticised by general public for not taking a more keen interest in social issues. They are rarely seen expressing their opinions publicly or even joining protest marches for important issues.
However, such wasn’t always the case. In October 1986, the film industry came together to protest against the heavy taxation on film tickets imposed by the government. The film industry went on strike on October 10, demanding relaxation in the 177% state surcharge on tickets sold by Maharashtra’s cinemas.
They also demanded the abolition of a 4% state ‘sales tax’ imposed on film production. As part of the strike, film producers had halted work on hundreds of films, bringing the industry to a stand still.
The clearest example of their unity was seen on October 21, when the biggest faces of Bollywood took to the streets of Bombay in protest. A vintage video from 35 years ago show how stars such as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Sunil Dutt, Sanjay Dutt, Dharmendra, Anil Kapoor, Rakesh Roshan, Smita Patil, Hema Malini and others had all come together for the protests.
They all spoke to the media about how the new rules should be abolished quickly. Raj Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Rajesh Khanna, Dilip Kumar, Raj Babbar and Sunil Dutt even took to the stage, giving rousing speeches about their rights and the importance of culture.
Also read: Queer Eye’s Tan France expecting his first child with husband Rob, excited for Sonam Kapoor ‘to meet the baby’
“Friends, we haven’t taken this step in a moment of hotheadedness but with a clear thought,” said Rajesh Khanna. Sunil said that the win will be a win for everyone. Dilip said, “You have imported machines, technology, computers, but you cannot export or import culture.”
A few days later, Maharashtra’s then chief minister S.B. Chavan negotiated for six hours with Sunil Dutt and Amitabh Bachchan, who both used to be Members of Parliament, and an understanding was reached.