29.1.13

How Shahrukh Khan got their goat


Shahrukh Khan has as much of a right to victimhood as those who are weeping over the loss of heritage structures mowed down by colonialists. That their ire is against selective colonisers must be noted.

What has got this country’s – or rather the rarefied species of media-garnered analysts' – goat now? Pakistan. Shahrukh may have mentioned something about minorities, but that bothers us less than what our neighbour says.  There is much to be upset about Pakistan’s interference.

The Interior Minister Rehman Malik said:

"He (Shah Rukh Khan) is born Indian and he would like to remain Indian, but I will request the government of India (to) please provide him security."

The report states he was “reacting to a first-person account by the actor in an Indian magazine focusing on his experiences as a Muslim in the post 9/11 world”. Hafiz Saeed, too, placed an offer before him to move to Pakistan if he felt unsafe in India.

This plays into the general perception (false) that Pakistanis love Indian Muslims. They do not, and in fact look down on the community – sometimes with pity, sometimes with envy for the freedom they assume everyone has at least in a secular country. None of the Pakistani leaders will come forth and invite the poor and disadvantaged Muslims. Besides, Khan has his roots in Peshawar; he speaks less fondly of it than Raj Kapoor did simply because he belongs to another generation. There are a number of Pakistanis who have memories of their origins as do Indians. Unfortunately, and this has been pointed out, the response to Khan reveals how insecure India is where minorities are concerned.

Political leaders have jumped in to express anger and announce how we can look after our citizens. The BJP has joined forces. The same BJP and rightwing groups make whoopee each time a Hindu is treated badly in Pakistan. They get mileage from it. Pakistan would, then, see it as interference too. Those Hindus and Christians, and for that matter Ahmadis and Shias, chose to live in Pakistan just as Indian Muslims chose to live here.

Pakistan’s minority laws are despicable, but one does not hear their citizens asking Hindus to “go back to India”.  Indian Muslims are asked to “go to Pakistan”. This is the truth, and Shahrukh mentioned this. This is where the trouble started.

There was a disgusting piece with the headline, ‘King of Victimhood: Shah Rukh Khan bites the hand that fed him’.  It has pretty much rubbished all the Khans, and reveals a deep communal stance suggesting they don’t have much talent. If that is so, then much of Bollywood suffers from it.

I’ll rebut some points, not because it is about Khan, but about how the rational lot look at minorityism:

At the peak of his career, Shah Rukh was spoken of in the same breath as the Shahenshah of Bollwood, Amitabh Bachchan. That comparison may have been valid in terms of the box-office appeal that both held, but a certain indefinable element of classy refinement that Bachchan exuded even when the cameras were not whirring remained forever out of reach of SRK.

What has that got to do with his ‘victimhood’? Incidentally, does anyone recall Mr. B’s victimhood during Bofors? Or, his failed attempt at a corporate enterprise? SRK has probably never attempted this studied refinement. He always mentions his not-so-classy life in Delhi.

So, by every verifiable metric, it’s fair to say that Shah Rukh Khan has enjoyed more success – and earned more fame and fortune and fan-love – than he arguably deserves. Which is why it’s difficult to account for the victimhood chip – rooted in his identity as a Muslim – that he bears on his shoulders.

One was not aware that off-camera refinement is a yardstick for success.  We may as individuals not care much for certain ways of acting, but this is obviously not about acting anymore. Khan, or anyone, does not know what fame and fortune they will be bestowed with. He began his career on TV. He could have gone unnoticed. Would we get to read about this? Is a Muslim who has got fame but is not visible and yet carries a chip on his shoulder something that is difficult to fathom? What about the real victims? Heard about them? They don’t know what chip on the shoulder means, but they carry the burden of an identity because you, bullshitters, tell them so.  It is your pathetic chip on the shoulder that cannot handle it.

There have been occasions, he said, when he had been accused of “bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation rather than my own country – even though I am an Indian, whose father fought for India’s freedom.”

Oh, cry me a river, Shah Rukh. Millions upon millions of fans in India made you who you are – without pausing even to reflect once on your religious identity. In an earlier time, a Muhammad Yousuf Khan may have felt the need to rechristen himself Dilip Kumar to give himself a better shot at survival in Bollywood, but cinema fans in India today are truly blind to the religious identity of their stars…

Cry you an ocean…ask a whole lot of Muslims and the answer will be, yes, these are questions we have faced. Shahrukh has millions of fans. Period. While fans today may not care, the media makes it a point to highlight their secular credentials when they visit pandals, do secular things (read Hindu) to be accepted. 

The fact that someone had to rename himself Dilip Kumar despite being an Indian to make it in a secular country should tell us we started with trepidation. The list includes Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Ajit, among the few prominent ones of the time. But let me educate you: There was Nargis, Nimmi, Suraiyya who did not change their names. Why, music directors, lyricists and singers contributed hugely to Indian cinema. Would these punks dare to question the talent of Naushad, Mohamed Rafi or Sahir who wrote, "Jinhein naaz hai Hind par woh kahaan hai?" (Those who are proud of India - where are they?) It was cynical and questioning the countrymen. He had every right to do so, just as I and Shahrukh and anyone else who lives here can.

More than most others, you always had access to sympathetic media treatment – and the unstinted support of everyone who spoke up in your defence (and even provided security cover for screenings of your film). And, by the way, have you given voice to a word of solidarity for Kamal Haasan, whose film Vishwaroopam too currently faces criminal intimidation from others like you who are feeding off Muslim victimhood?

The media feeds on celebrity as much as they do on media exposure. It is a convenient arrangement. The piece forgets to mention Shabana Azmi who complained about not getting a house in Mumbai. It forgot Javed Akhtar who while claiming to be an atheist will participate in rallies with clerics to ‘fight terrorism’. Why? Because this so-called liberal media will protect the high-brow. Refinement, remember? While Muslim groups seeking a ban on Vishwaroopam must be addressed, why should Khan be the one doing it? Has Kamal Haasan stood up for him? Or, other films that have got into trouble? If Shahrukh did issue a statement supporting this film, would all the sins attributed to him be wiped out?

Heck, even when you made a colossal ass of yourself by getting into inebriated fights with fellow-stars in Bollywood – or even just a lowly security guard at Wankhede Stadium who was merely doing his job – you’ve had media divas offering you therapy sessions on their studio couches to present your side of the matter, such as it is.  Not many others get the chance to redeem themselves after such exceptionally boorish conduct.

True. How does this become a Muslim problem? Back in the days Dharmendra chased a columnist; the older Kapoors would drink and misbehave; several Kumars and others get into fights; Anupam Kher slapped a photographer. We will not even get into the rape cases and casting couch. Or, the more subtle boorish conduct of the refined folks, okay? These ought to be treated as socially-despicable behaviour, and nothing to do with a person discussing his identity question. 

In any case, My Name Is Khan was itself premised on a sense of victimhood – and we haven’t exactly forgotten how you milked your brief but propitiously timed detention at a US airport about that time to market your film. And to think that unlike what happens to countless other plebeians in similar situations, the Indian government scrambled to get US immigration authorities to let you off because, of course, you are a superstar. And you complain today – to an overseas publication – that you’re being targeted for being a Muslim?

The film was indeed based on a sense of being victimised, and it was made by Karan Johar. Shahrukh did use the detention episode and pulled strings, but other prominent people weren’t exactly ecstatic about the treatment meted out to them. George Fernandes did not take too kindly to it.

How does this nullify Khan feeling targeted as a Muslim or his talking to a foreign publication? These publications write about our slums. Do we have issues with it? If a Hindu talks about feeling victimised due to increasing ‘Muslim terror’ in a foreign publication, will we have problems? Only because the man is famous, has fans, and access to the powerful, why can he not discuss minority issues?

So, grow up, Shah Rukh, and learn to take it on the chin like a man. Don’t bite the hand that fed you – and made you who you are – by running off to an overseas publication and crying your heart out, thereby providing the space for low-life terrorists like Hafiz Saeed to take potshots at India.

Whoever wrote this piece of crud is utterly juvenile, running around with a water pistol. The country is not doling out anything. We do not have social security. Everyone tries to earn; some get more. The country is an amorphous whole – it cannot make or break anyone. Its people do, and the person must have worked at least a bit to get where he is. It is pathetic that some terrorist’s statement makes people so touchy. Hafiz Saeed has done worse earlier than take just pot-shots at India.

India may not be a paradise – not by a long shot – but, as writer Patrick French observed at the Jaipur Literature Festival, you only have to look around India’s neighbourhood – including the “neighbouring country” you couldn’t even name in your interview – and ask yourself where else you would rather live…

This is stupendously hilarious. The writer of this nonsense complains about Shahrukh Khan talking to a foreign publication, but quotes a foreigner to legitimise his rant! Shahrukh Khan and other Muslims do not need to be asked or told about any country or the choices they have, whatever be the quality of that choice. The fact that he said “neighbouring country” should tell you, the superior Indian with a chip on the shoulder, that he does not give a damn, like most of us, and that people like you are no better than Hafiz Saeed wanting to protect Muslims like SRK, ride on his fame for getting hits, but don’t really care about minorities.

So, crawl out of that hole and go watch a movie. Try Life of Pi. It stars a Khan, Irrfan Khan. And it’s a foreign film. Bite that. 

(c) Farzana Versey 

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Update on Jan 31: Did not want to dissipate the argument on the minority issue with ifs and buts about Shahrukh Khan's other aspects. Now since it has been a couple of days, you might want to read my comparison of him and Aamir Khan: Bollywood's Hypocrisy

13 comments:

  1. Yawnn...Its not Shahrukh Khan who got anybody's goat ..its an article in mainstream media which normally dishes pseudo secular trash which got the goat of you and your ilk.

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  2. madam plz migrate to pakistan if u dont like india!!

    As an atheist i am altleast safe in India. Can u give any muslim country where atheists r safe where conversion is strictly prohibited?

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  3. Madam if u dont like india migrate to pakistan.Many hindus already left india for better prospects.

    As an indian i m atleast safe in india. can u give me atleast one muslim country where atheists r safe?

    Where is freedom of speech in muslim countries where u can criticize own gods and other gods?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Farzana,

    Is this a new one? Or two? Old and new?

    Oh, well. Let me try anyway.

    Ahem. Attention Anons:

    Madam is liking India just fine. Madam is not liking only some Indians. :)

    Atheist god Darwin says no country safe for criticizing own gods and other gods. Darwin says if atheists want to survive as fittest, atheists must learn to sting like bee; fly like butterfly, just like everyone else. No free ride.

    Mark (a.k.a., an only slightly used "anchor")

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  5. Great post. It's hilarious and sad to see anon commenters do EXACTLY what you talked about ("Go back to Pakistan! HURR DURR!"), without ANY trace of irony.

    I fear for the future of our country, with such people's voices in the mainstream.

    ReplyDelete
  6. They do not, and in fact look down on the community – sometimes with pity, sometimes with envy for the freedom they assume everyone has at least in a secular country

    The Pakistanis looks down on us and they are hardly congenial to anyone esp Indian Muslims, my exp with Pakistanis here were very bad. Not good ppl to associate with, yet the Hindu right seems not to understand that the Muslims of India is here to stay here forever. Recently a BJP spokesperson in one of the debates in NDTV wanted to know when Indian Muslims would like to go to Pakistan, and she was a lawyer - hilarious , what kind of treacherous mindset these ppl have!

    Pakistan’s minority laws are despicable, but one does not hear their citizens asking Hindus to “go back to India”. Indian Muslims are asked to “go to Pakistan”. This is the truth, and Shahrukh mentioned this. This is where the trouble started.

    whenever muslims in India asks for their basic rights they are immediately clubbed as honest, backward, illiterate , fundamentalist but no where I find there is a honest debate about their condition, more so the hindu right won't even agree the Muslims are toiling had it not been for sachar report, the general attitude is to write them off - but when will they wake up , can't they not discern between reality and fake ideology? time for some honesty and change

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  7. "Pakistan’s minority laws are despicable, but one does not hear their citizens asking Hindus to “go back to India”. Indian Muslims are asked to “go to Pakistan”. This is the truth, and Shahrukh mentioned this. This is where the trouble started. "

    Well, considering less than 1% of Pakistanis are hindus, down from 15% in 1950.... Pakistanis dont have to tell their hindus to leave Pakistan...they leave /have left on their own. If you wish to know why, google search "Rinkie Kumari".

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  8. Rohit:

    That is not mainstream media, to begin with. That article reveals what the title says. It echoes the views of a few right-wingers. I did not know pseudo-secular was such a blanket term.

    PS: Considering you started with a yawn, you probably sleep-wrote this.

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    Neeraj:

    Thank you. I do believe that the mainstream is almost as fractious and these statements are possibly exaggerated versions of a more 'rational' thinking.

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  9. Mark:

    You mean the anons? New ambler walking old street!

    Good shot at deconstructing the work, though. Madam khush hui...

    Atheist god Darwin says no country safe for criticizing own gods and other gods. Darwin says if atheists want to survive as fittest, atheists must learn to sting like bee; fly like butterfly, just like everyone else. No free ride.

    Oh, calling Darwin god negates atheism. But the spirit of your statement is that atheists, and I assume non-upholders of religion, have to become chamelions and do in Rome as the Vatican does. This might extend the papacy beyond its limits.

    It might alter the manner in which religion as well as atheism get formulated while on the job, so to speak.

    Mark (a.k.a., an only slightly used "anchor")

    FV (a.k.a., the lull of a storm)

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    Rizwan:

    The Muslim elite, scholars, and 'leaders' are equally to blame for feeding the Hindutva stereotypes.

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  10. Raghav Hegde:


    Well, considering less than 1% of Pakistanis are hindus, down from 15% in 1950.... Pakistanis dont have to tell their hindus to leave Pakistan...they leave /have left on their own. If you wish to know why, google search "Rinkie Kumari".

    Funny, you are in fact giving an argument that Pakistan will love. That the dwindling Hindu population is because they have left on their own. As re Rinkle Kumari, it's interesting that Indians realised about their Hindu counterparts in Pakistan over six decades after Independence.

    I've written about her and these cases, so don't need to Google. You might like to to find out what happened to those 100 families that came here on the pretext of a pilgrimage, it was said, but to seek asylum. Any updates? Are they still here? Their spokesperson said they had no intention of hanging around in India.

    Hope you find some new discoveries.


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  11. I've added an update link to give my 'other' views on Shahrukh!

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    Anon:

    Madam/Sir, I am not knowing your womanhood/manhood also, but I am saying what gentleman said that I am liking India, but not some Indians. Just like you not liking me, but saying 'Am loving it" to Mac burgers. Okay?

    If I migrate, then I prefer Swiss chalet, or Frecnh Riviera. Whyfor Pakistan?

    You are very confused. You are saying Hindus left India for better prospect. Where? To Pakistan?

    Atheists are not safe anywhere - there is too much noise during festivals, and everyone is going on and on about some god or other. Life is difficult. I applaud you for finding safe cave to hide from all this and do atheism nicely.

    Giving address, plz? I'll name bat in cave after you. Done?

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  12. "Funny, you are in fact giving an argument that Pakistan will love. That the dwindling Hindu population is because they have left on their own. "

    Thats exactly the argument. Why do they leave on their own ? Did they get a green card or something ? From well over 10% of Pakistan's population to under 1%....thats a whole lot of green cards. And meanwhile, you people exhibit breeding habits of rodents in kufr India....from under 10% to now 20%.

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  13. FV,

    QUOTE: "..Those Hindus and Christians, and for that matter Ahmadis and Shias, chose to live in Pakistan.."

    The unsaid part here is 'They should not complain about getting killed or converted to Islam'

    By the same standard, Indian Muslims - least of all the Khan Miyan above - have no right to keep cribbing about discrimination, riots, arrests or any such stuff.

    Your logic, not mine!

    ReplyDelete

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