Who is afraid of Sonam Gupta
By Ritesh Ranjan, @royret
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his demonetisation drive, the name has gone viral on social media after the words “Sonam Gupta bewafa hai” were found scribbled on currency notes. The lines became such a talking point that a Hindi TV news channel even featured it in a bulletin, further piquing the curiosity of the people with regard to her identity. It is a different point that the name first surfaced in August and was forgotten soon, only to make a comeback due to the demonetisation announcement and attract infamy after being featured in numerous memes and jokes. So much so that the graffiti has crossed borders, and can be seen on currencies of the U.S. and a few other countries too.
Sonam Gupta could be your mother, daughter, someone from your family, your neighbour or someone you know. No one knows why she is being called “bewafa” (disloyal) or if at all she cheated anybody, but most people you talk to seem to have heard the line “Sonam Gupta bewafa hai” and are happy to share Whatsapp jokes and memes without sparing nary a thought that an actual person might exist behind the name. And if she does, what kind of torment this would be putting her and her family through. And god forbid if she is single — this one line will ensure that her chances of getting married dramatically go down to zero. Not to mention the hell she would be going through if she is actually married and lives in a conservative Indian household.
Did anybody actually spare a thought that this silly prank could have actually been carried out by an unrequited lover or a suitor whom the actual Sonam Gupta rebuffed? Or if the person behind this is someone craving for personal vendetta because of a real or imagined slight? Or if it is a stalker trying to hurt her after being warned or told off? And what if she was actually in a relationship (more so if it was abusive, either physically or mentally) and broke it off for some reason? Does she need to undergo this infamy just because her partner is unhappy with the situation and is not mature enough to handle the rejection? How can any of the above justify such character assassination?
The only thing this incident reveals in abundance is that Indians are bullies, and more so if they are ensured a medium that protects their identity. (And by the way, this is not something education can change. The worst culprits in this category are people who are highly educated, and are unable to fathom that others can have a view that is not necessarily the one they hold.) This can easily explain the trolls and abusive messages that come pouring in when someone tries to question or put forth a view that goes against the grain, especially with regard to government policies or programmes or the majoritarian view on some sensitive religious or national issue.
On a lighter note, the only miracle we can now hope for is that some maverick like Ram Gopal Varma or Kamal R. Khan does not get inspired by these words, and make a movie. On the offhand chance that they do, our intelligence agencies can may be put the movie to good use during interrogations to torment and put psychological pressure on spies to force them into revealing what they want to know.