At Beauty Con Los Angeles, Priyanka Chopra was questioned by an audience member regarding her tweet after the Pulwama attack.
The question was asked by Ayesha Malik, a Pakistani woman who attended the event. She asked - "It was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity because as your neighbor, a Pakistani, I know you're a bit of a hypocrite. Because you tweeted on February 26th, - Jai Hind. #IndianArmedForces. You are a UNICEF ambassador for peace, and you're encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan? There's no winner in this. As a Pakistani, millions of people like me have supported you in your business of Bollywood and you want nuclear war."
Ayesha had a valid point to make on the current humanitarian crisis, but midway through her question was cut off by the bouncers in her seating row.
Priyanka then replied, - "I hear you. Whenever you're done venting. Got it? Done? Okay, cool. I have many many friends from Pakistan, and I am from India.War is not something that I'm really fond of, but I am patriotic. So I'm sorry if I hurt sentiments of people who do love me and have loved me. But I think that all of us have a sort of middle ground that we all have to walk just like you probably do as well. The way you came at me right now, girl, don't yell. We're all here for love. Don't yell. Don't embarrass yourself."
After this exchange, the crowd was cheery about the way Priyanka handled the situation. She was calm and collected and she answered her question very respectfully. But, while her fans support her through thick and thin, the question still stands.
Is Priyanka Chopra "encouraging nuclear war"?
While most people favor the diplomatic answer Chopra gave, it remains unclear what her message was. Priyanka holds the title of a UNICEF National Ambassador for India, and her statement "War is not something that I'm really fond of, but I am patriotic." has raised many questions.
Does the idea of being patriotic propagate a need for supporting a war against other countries? Or does being patriotic inherently mean that you support whatever measures need to be taken to move forward?
These questions are some of the most pertinent questions especially after the recent happenings in Kashmir.
While most people are glorifying the sentiment that Chopra invoked, others are sure she was gas-lighting Ayesha and making her come off as the bad person.
Was It Gaslighting?
How the question was answered was rather patronizing and condescending. Questions like these come by, fairly so, when you are a UNICEF Ambassador and gas-lighting is not the answer.
Asking Ayesha if she was done "venting" was uncalled for, her question was the need of the hour. In a hostile political environment, calling out Priyanka for her questionable tweet was important.
Priyanka also added - "The way you came at me right now, girl, don't yell. We're all here for love. Don't yell. Don't embarrass yourself." was an easy way to shift the blame.
"Priyanka Chopra pulled all the tricks in the book. She was condescending. She said she has Pakistani friends like how racists say they have black friends. She mocked the girl by using the term venting when a UN ambassador is supposed to listen to people." a twitter user said.
Her answer also played around a very problematic idea of patriotism, and as a public figure who is very influential, she further propagated this conception.
So we can see that at some level, gas lighting was involved.
Do Celebrities Play A Role In Politics?
Many of Priyanka's fans have come to her rescue on the issue.
"This outrage against Priyanka Chopra tweeting in support of her country's army (Indian army) after it was viciously attacked by terror funded groups of Pakistan is sickening. Also, tweeting in favor of your army is not supporting nuclear war." a fan tweeted.
We have seen time and again that celebrities who make political statements get slammed for their beliefs, and as unfair as that sounds, it is important to realize that they do play a vital role in propagating political ideologies.
Paresh Rawal, Anupam Kher, Kirron Kher, Raveena Tandon, Hema Malini, and Rajnikant, and many other actors have emerged as vocal and truculent supporters of the BJP.
With big platforms come big responsibilities. Celebrities often act as role models for children and adults alike, their statements and views are considered of high value in this day and age.
To be acknowledged with this responsibility is an essential step in maintaining their personal and political beliefs publicly.
What We Think
As a UNICEF Ambassador, Priyanka Chopra holds the responsibility to empathize, and lend a listening ear. Shutting down Ayesha for the question asked in the manner that Chopra did was another example of hypocrisy, ironically.
The first step to making a more open and friendly environment for the criticism that celebrities receive is for them to recognize that they are looked up to. And while doing the same, also realize that patronizing their fans is not the answer.
Though the question was personal, her public declaration on the issue is what caught attention.
At the same time, it is unnerving to know that celebrities have to restrict their share of opinions on public platforms. But as we said earlier, with big platforms come big responsibilities.