Indian football star and former captain of the Indian football team Bhaichung Bhutia has lashed out in a rare outburst against Priyanka Chopra. Bhaichung, who stays in Calcutta, is known to be extremely mild and reticent. He couldn't resist from commenting saying that "Priyanka Chopra has hurt people from Sikkim."
Priyanka was speaking to the international media for promoting her film Pahuna at the Toronto International Film Festival. Bhaichung has done a cameo in the film which is supported by the Tourism department of the government of Sikkim. Sadly, all of that support has backfired after the comment which was given to ET Canada, where she said, “This is a Sikkimese film. Sikkim is a small state in the north-eastern India which never had a film industry or anyone who made films from there. And this is the first film ever that’s come out of that region because it is very troubled with insurgency and troubling situations.”
There was immediate backlash on Twitter, after which the actor issued an apology. “I understand that the statement I made in the interview was open to interpretation. I should have been clearer with my intention,” the Sikkim Chronicle quoted her letter as saying. The local media report also refuted the actor’s claims about her film being the first from the region.
However, the government of Sikkim has said that they are not satisfied with the apology as it has damaged the very image that it had tried to create internationally. Directed by first-timer Paakhi A. Tyrewala, Pahuna... was launched as an association between Priyanka and her mother Madhu Chopra's banner Purple Pebble Pictures and Ministry of Tourism Sikkim.
Bhaichung on his part has issued a detailed statement in the media about it, saying that he never expected this from Priyanka. This is what he said.
"Actor Priyanka Chopra’s statement at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) that Sikkim is a state “troubled by insurgency” is shocking and untrue. It has deeply hurt the sentiments of the people in the state. I am surprised that Priyanka made this comment because she is one of the best and intellectually sharpest actresses, and she speaks sensibly. It could be that someone fed her with wrong information about the state. In fact, I am doing a cameo in her new movie, Pahuna, which got standing ovation at TIFF.
Sikkim is one of the most politically peaceful states of the country and the credit for it goes to the people of the state. Sikkim became a part of India in 1975. My father was born much before that and his generation was emotional about the annexation. But then to the credit of his generation, they did not make it a festering political issue though such things have happened elsewhere in the world. Look at the protests in Hong Kong today. I went on to captain India and it was seen as a great honour. Today every Sikkimese genuinely feels that they are part of India. Other than being politically peaceful, Sikkim is also one of the greenest states of the country and the people across the board are hospitable.
It is true that parts of Northeast are violence-hit but all states are not. One of the main reasons why people from ‘mainland’ India tend to lump all states together is because of a lack of awareness towards the region. But the situation is improving because more and more young people from the region are going to other parts of India to work, study and people-to-people contact is increasing."