As we evolved technologically, from let’s say the 90s, when actors did not have the power to reach out to the masses, social media has come as a boon.

We can speak here freely, directly and without the fear of being misquoted.

But it was a different game back then, in the 90s. It was a time when tabloids doing yellow journalism were ruling the roost. They said ridiculous things about you and all you could do was to be angry – really angry – at the fabricated stories. If ever they decided to say sorry, the tiny apology would be buried so deep in an issue that no one would even notice.

b’Image source: Instagram’

I’ll cite a case here. I was interviewed by a journalist from a film magazine who spent an entire day with me. It so happened that I had a Meningitis attack and the journalist accompanied me to Nanavati Hospital and witnessed everything from the medication to the tests. In fact, she ended up writing a blow-by-blow account of the medical episode in the next issue.

No problem with that. But then another magazine, Stardust, picked up the story for their edition. And what they wrote left me shocked and devastated. Their copy said I had taken rat poison and had tried to commit suicide!

If anyone cooked up such a copy today, I would expose them on social media by putting out my medical reports and the doctors’ statements in public domain. Alas, we didn’t have this luxury back then.

And so I feel social media is a blessing.

Of course, no one should cross the line. I feel that as long as one is not hurting sentiments and being provocative or unnecessarily rude, one is free to voice their opinions.

Social media has become a vitriolic space because of trolls, they say. But I want to ask, who really is a troll?

Here’s something that happened to me recently: all I did was share a news story related to the Ramayana based on scientific research, with a simple comment that we Indians are being made to scoff at our own history.

The post was enough for a woman, who claims to be a writer, to declare that I don’t have brains!

Is this not trolling?

Someone else jumped in to declare that I am a failed actress.

Is this not trolling?

But when I call them out as trolls, they brand me as a wannabe Hindutva icon.

To all these trolls, I want to say, I have nothing to do with you. I didn’t write the post for you, you came on my timeline to react. Who are you to question my faith? I am a proud Indian and proud of my roots. That’s what I am. If I believe in Ramayana, who are you to insult me?

To my trolls, I want to say, a lot of you claim to be feminists but choose the first opportunity to play the victim card. You write books on how you have been victimised, by failed actors and failed cricketers.

To my trolls, I want to say, you have lost touch with reality. You are hypocrites, for you exercise your freedom to abuse but stop me from exercising my freedom to believe and express.

The kind of abuse I have faced on this platform has been horrific. I do save screenshots occasionally so that whenever I feel the need, I can approach the police to lodge a complaint. But it hasn’t come to that, thankfully.

But it’s really nothing compared to what we experienced in the 90s. The worst kind of trolling happened back then.

We would be shooting, and people would pass vulgar comments and run away. Tabloids wrote filth about us and carried on as if nothing had happened.

We are spared that kind of slander now. We can give them back here. We can call out their hypocrisy.

And this is why I want to advise Sonu Nigam to stay on. Social media is a double-edged sword, but it has its merits.

Don’t let the trolls hijack a space that is already so politically divided. Don’t let the trolls silence you.

I am certainly not backing down.