Societal Venting/Opinion Piece: Another Social Media Fail with Rumored Neil Nitin Mukesh and Game of Thrones Fiasco

November 8, 2015

Since November 4th, people everywhere on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are having a field day over something Bollywood actor Neil Nitin Mukesh allegedly said in an interview with the newspaper Mumbai Mirror. What has transpired since, and how the story has been blown out of proportion, producing thousands of additionally false and skewed stories, is infuriating and reminds me how scary the power of the internet can be…yet again.

Rumor has it that 33-year-old Indian actor Neil Nitin Mukesh has landed a role in Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones (GoT), offered to him by stunt director of GoT Greg Powell. Powell was also the action director of the actor’s upcoming film Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Now, I’m not one to go in search of news online (whatever the cost – I find world news too depressing), but I was aware that Facebook was trending this story on my newsfeed a few days ago and again today when HBO denied the claims that such a casting was ever in the works. The newspaper dna analysis came out with its own version on the story on November 8th, outing the actor’s remarks as lies about being cast in the series halfway through filming. The story doesn’t annoy me because these rumors are being exposed. That’s not the problem. What annoys me is that the real target of backlash is unfortunately the actor himself for making such ‘outlandish’ claims  and receiving flak for it.

It took me ONLY 15 minutes of surfing on the internet to catch a better glimpse of the original story behind all the stories (and by the way, I’m no genius, but the fact that even I could figure out where the truths and half-truths lie say a lot about how idiotic this whole situation is). You can read the short Mumbai Mirror article ‘Bollywood’s Prince to Conquer the Iron Throne’ that started it all here. This is a classic case of leading-the-reader by insinuation on the part of the author Avinash Lohana (and editors at the newspaper). In a botched attempt to produce a witty and eye-catching headline, not only is the ridiculously titled piece completely unsubstantiated by the contents of the article itself, but the vagaries in the story writing attest to how easily Neil Nitin Mukesh’s words could be twisted and misinterpreted by readers. Intentional or not, the decision-makers at the Mumbai Mirror are responsible for the actor getting the raw end of the deal. Shame.

To be fair, it isn’t uncommon at all for newspapers to print such hiccups, so the fault lies duly with the readers who swept up the fodder and catapult their own 5 minutes of fame by reporting incorrectly (they now know) the story of Neil Nitin Mukesh and his upcoming role in GoT. Queue loads of memes and tweets that personally attacked the actor’s name and his acting skills.

In this respect, actors are notorious for saying that they don’t worry about negative or crude comments people make about them. As the sayings goes, ‘it’s the media’s job to take your words out of context and reframe them as they wish’ and ‘everyone has a right to their own opinions, even if against their acting’, but in all honesty folks, unless you are a media person or actually have a serious vendetta against the culprit, there is no reason why you (the lay people) shouldn’t respect another person’s humanity, celebrity or not. Being nasty isn’t the answer, like the one that seems to want the actor dead, shown below. This sort of thing doesn’t tickle my funny bone in the slightest!

The fact that this story took a life of its own and became a media frenzy is not my issue. What bothers me and irks me to the core is the fact that such a rumor has sparked mindless victimization and cyber abuse towards the actor. Direct or indirect, Neil Nitin Mukesh has been made a laughing stock and been the butt of many a jokes (for some time now actually), and because of his supposed claims and the hand he played in propagating these claims, it is becoming worse. At the very least, the actor is being mocked for making a cheap publicity (PR) stunt. Whether it was in fact a stunt or not, my nagging concerns are still valid. Find someone to blame and relentlessly beat the shit out of them without repercussion – is that what our generation has learned and enforces? I don’t like it.

…And who hasn’t heard of false accusations of sexual harassment ruining the lives of upstanding teachers and citizens. Or the victim of rape and gang rape being considered at fault. Or not upholding the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ landmark for criminal cases that forever stain the lives of the innocently accused? These are all-to-common occurrences and a testament to the way our society functions and blames first then looks for truth later (if at all!). It’s a scary world we live in, where truth and faith are no longer given importance over first impressions and immediate reactions. I’m not saying everyone is falsely targeted, but it’s happening too much to go unnoticed in society without a vent.

I do want to end on a rather realistic note about the Neil Nitin Mukesh and GoT fiasco, however. There are gaping holes in the narrative available online. The actor’s side of the story is patchy at best, and the stunt director Greg Powell’s side missing altogether. Both individual’s point of views seem to neither be of interest nor importance. In the meantime, the actual contents of the interview and topics covered are buried behind closed doors that no one wishes to open. So, of course, my personal theories on the matter will remain unresolved:

  1. that there was a misunderstanding of what was said vs. what was meant (between the interviewer and interviewee)
  2. poor English word choice used in the original newspaper article that made it difficult to differentiate between a tentative role, a confirmed role, or even the offer just being a compliment from stunt director to actor (despite title using the word ‘conquer’, author did say ‘offered’ and not ‘bagged’ or ‘landed’ role in body)
  3. or that the actor was asked hypothetical questions and gave hypothetical answers about a future role in GoT (which was then written about in a literal way)
  4. where is it mentioned that Neil Nitin Mukesh might get a role in Season 6 of GoT and not a later season?!

The reason, as we all know, for all the gaping holes (and I agree with this rationale to an extent), is the fact that this is not news at all. No aspect of this story requires serious journalism or investigation. It is just a quick ticket to fame that had its limelight by trending for a few days then dying in its own outlandish embers without a second look from anyone. Sparks one day, put out the next. This is the epitome of Page 3 gossip, am I right?

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