When the Union Budget was announced last year, the lack of any significant provisions for the middle class became a cause for jokes and jibes on social media. With this year’s pre-election Interim Budget providing income tax relief to those who earn up to Rs 5 lakh annually and increasing the standard deduction by Rs 10,000 for the entire salaried class, Twitter users found something new to focus on: Union minister Piyush Goyal’s decision to mention a Bollywood movie while presenting the Budget.
Goyal, who is stepping in as finance minister while Arun Jaitley is away for medical treatment in the United States, referenced Aditya Dhar’s January 11 release Uri: The Surgical Strike while talking about the entertainment industry. The film, starring Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party MP, revisits the Indian Army’s 2016 “surgical strike” across the Line of Control with Pakistan.
Goyal said that he had watched the film in theatres and had enjoying the “josh” of the audience, invoking the film’s catchphrase “How’s the josh.” Even while signing off his speech, Goyal said that the country is changing because of the josh (enthusiasm) of its citizens.
Dhar’s film has already received a great deal of political patronage, with several BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar chanting “How’s the josh” in their speeches. The film was exempted from the state goods and services tax in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh. For many Twitter users, Goyal’s praise of the film in Parliament was final proof that the movie is actually a piece of government propaganda in an election year.
With all the attention (and box office profits) being cornered by Uri, another politically charged movie that released on the same weekend as Dhar’s war film, Anupam Kher-starrer The Accidental Prime Minister, has gone completely unnoticed, as author Yasser Usman pointed out. The film, based on Sanjaya Baru’s memoir of the same name about his time as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media advisor, takes several potshots at the Congress’s Gandhi family but did not make an impact at the box office.
The main beneficiaries of the interim Budget, then, were farmers, the middle class, cows (via a national commission for cows) and Uri, surmised some Twitter users.
The “How’s the josh” dialogue was also invoked by Twitter users while describing provisions of the Budget.
Meanwhile, the josh of Opposition leaders wasn’t so high after the announcement of what is being touted as a middle-class-friendly Budget.
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