India as a nation looks up to film stars more than academicians or scientists as their role models. If a film star is able to take up roles or responsibilities that will influence the public positively then it will help the country tremendously.
Film stars have spoken up on various issues and took part in activities. Farhan Akhtar founded the Men Against Rape and Discrimination (MARD) to combat rape culture and violence against women. Shah Rukh Khan mentioned in an interview with David Letterman that he is supporting organisations that rehabilitate and help acid attacks survivors.
Aamir Khan hosted the TV show Satyameva Jayte that dealt with a variety of issues such as toxic masculinity, domestic violence, objectification of women etc.
It is like how it's said in the popular film, "with great power comes great responsibility."
These actresses have founded or took part in major socially important activities to help underprivileged or marginalised people.
Deepika Padukone opened up on her experience with clinical depression in 2015 in an interview with noted journalist Barkha Dutt. She also wrote columns explaining how she felt empty, directionless and cried constantly at a time when she was at the peak of her career. Eventually, she underwent therapy and took medications to treat her depression.
She launched 'The Live Love Laugh Foundation' (TLLLF) to help in spreading awareness on mental health and to reduce the stigma against it. She helped in conducting several lectures and workshops to help people. TLLLF won the Dr Guislain 'Breaking the Chains of Stigma’ Award and Deepika received the 26th Annual Crystal Award for raising awareness on mental health.
Deepika's work also helped the whole nation start a conversation about mental health. After her, several celebrities came out with their stories of depression including Ileana D'Cruz, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Karan Johar, Anushka Sharma and Shah Rukh Khan.
Deepika also expressed her desire to make movies about mental health to help in breaking the stigma.
Alia Bhatt expressed her love for nature and the environment on several platforms. She started to coexist with an aim to help those beings that do not have a voice of their animals, plants and the ocean.
Through this, she voiced the necessity to promote animal welfare and tackle major environmental issues. She also advocated for the protection and welfare for homeless cats and dogs. She also introduced 'Mi Wardrobe is Su Wardrobe' for sustainable fashion.
Her work has been lauded by several sections; Rashi Narang, founder of 'Heads Up for Tails' called her platform a worthy endeavour.
Prerna Singh Bindra, a nature advocate said that Alia's work on this social issue will bring in a positive effect because humans depend on nature and animals.
Anushka Sharma was one of the loudest voices against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival from her film fraternity. She has posted images of herself and her husband Virat Kohli playing and pampering with dogs and other animals. Both of them have expressed their mutual love for animals. She launched a campaign called 'PAWsitivity' for a noise-free Diwali so that it doesn't affect animals. On her 30th birthday, Anushka announced that she is set to open an animal shelter in Dahagaon village of Shahapur taluka. She is also working on building a veterinary hospital along with animal shelter. She is working closely with Retd. Colonel Ajay Kumar Sharma for this project.
Priyanka Chopra made a niche for herself on a global platform. She utilized the voice she had for a number of social causes. She founded 'The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education' to work for underprivileged child's education. She pays for the education of 70 children in India out of which 50 are girls.
As a feminist, she voiced against sex selection murder of infant and abortion of the fetus after sex-determination. She helped in the launching of ‘save the girl child’ and worked for the change of attitude towards girls. She advocated for women's rights including representation, recognition and gender wage gap. Priyanka vowed that there will be a 100 crore worth film in the future where the lead actress will get her dues.
She was appointed as the national UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights and received Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice for her work in social causes.
Ananya Pandey is one of the famous star kids who is aware of the privilege she has as a star kid in Bollywood. She acknowledged that it is easy for her to get work in Bollywood compared to outsiders and probably, she doesn't deserve to be there.
Recognising the privilege she has, she chose to work for safe and positive internet space.
She launched the Digital Social Responsibility initiative called 'So Positive' this year to combat cyber violence.
Economic Times recognised 'So Positive' as ET Most Promising Brands. 'So Positive' calls out trolling and bullying as horrendous forms of harassment when it simply wants to cause chaos.
The film industry, in general, has been perpetuating problematic beauty standards by casting mostly fair actors (especially women) in the lead roles. Very few people have raised their voice against this and actress and Filmmaker Nandita Das is one of them.
She helped in the launching of 'Dark is Beautiful' campaign by Women of Worth in 2009. The campaign urges media and industry top celebrate women of all skin tones.
A decade later, the campaign has been relaunched as 'India’s Got Colour' featuring people with various skin tones.
Apart from that, she was inducted in International Hall of Fame of the International Women's Forum in Washington D.C, the United States for her contribution in arts.
Tanushree Dutta was subjected to harassment and mob attack in 2008 during the shooting of 'Horn Ok Pleasss'. She virtually disappeared from Bollywood as she mentally disturbed by the events and lack of support and action from authorities.
A decade later, she helped in kickstarting the MeToo movement in India after she broke her silence on the harassment committed against her. Afterwards, several women came forward with their reports and several men were exposed.
Tanushree spoke about her experiences on various platforms to spread awareness on harassment and treatment of women.
She faced trolling, notably for her role in 'Aashiq Banaya Aapne' where she had to do erotic scenes. Tanushree said that 'Aashiq Banaya Aapne' scenes were shot with her consent and she chose it. But, she did not consent to actor Nana Patekar who allegedly harassed her on sets.
hough Patekar is yet to face reckoning or legal action, her voice served as a motivation for women to break and for people to listen to survivor before judging them.
Apart from being a five-time national award-winning actress, Shabana Azmi is also famous for her strong dissenting voice and social work. She is associated with the Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) founded by her father Kaifi Azmi who was a famous poet.
She took over his work after his demise and believed in his vision of reaching out to rural India and educate them.
Under MWS, it runs Kaifi Azmi High School for girls and Kaifi Azmi Inter College for girls with the primary mission to empower girls.
Shabana also worked towards h removal of stigma against women and children who are infected with HIV. She has spoken against the injustice faced by them including on public platforms where political ideas are rarely discussed.
Shabana is regarded as one of the smartest women in Bollywood.
Former Miss India Nafisa Ali, along with her achievements as a national swimming champion and politician, has done tremendous social work. She has actively advocated for the removal of poverty, women and child rights, and social development.
She founded a care home called ‘Ashraya’ to help in protecting and providing for people who are affected by HIV.
Nafisa Ali helped in reconstructing houses in 48 villages of Gujarat after it was affected by a massive earthquake in 2001. She also worked closely with the Orissa Cyclone Relief Fund to help the helpless people.
Former Miss India Gul Panag is a strong supporter of activism and runs a variety of work. 'Dor' actress runs an NGO called 'Colonel Shamsher Singh Foundation' that aims at promoting gender equality and disaster management. Panag's notable work is for the environment where she supported 'Green Comandos' for environmental issues and related solutions. She advocated for poor farmers through 'Shop For Change Fair Trade'. She lent her voice for autistic children through 'Shraddha'.
As a supporter of women's rights and safety, Gul had spoken in the past that violence against women will stop only when men's attitude change. She said this after facing eve-teasing and harassment at Delhi half marathon in 2010.