Salman Khan, whose latest release Sultan has already become this year's highest grossing Hindi film, is still under fire for his recent remark, in which he reportedly compared preparing for his role in the film to feeling like a "raped woman".
The latest in a long line of industry people and celebrities who have been asked by the media to react to this comment is actor Vivek Oberoi, whose new movie, Great Grand Masti, hits theatres this Friday. It is important to remember that Oberoi and Khan have quite the history, after the former held an infamous press conference in 2003 wherein he accused the latter of threatening to kill him, a charge Khan denied. At the time, Oberoi was at the top of his career and was said to be dating Aishwarya Rai, who had just gotten out of an tumultuous and abusive relationship with Khan.
The press conference, by all accounts and Oberoi's own admission, ruined his career. Khan's immense clout in the industry ensured that Oberoi lost a number of lucrative acting offers. Rai, who hadn't yet married Abhishek Bachchan at the time, didn't stand by him either. Over the years, the actor admitted several times that the press conference had been "a mistake" and apologised to Khan, but to no avail. While he still appears in supporting roles in the occasional Hindi film, it is a far cry from 13 years ago, when he was counted as one of the industry's brightest rising stars.
In an interview with dna, the actor responded to a question about Khan's controversial comment with a long-winded and diplomatic monologue that was more of an observation (and not a bad one at all) on how the media works today than an actual answer to the question.
"I think probably media people have lot better perspective on it. You still are probably lot younger from when I started off as. So a lot of people who I chatted with 14 years ago are now editors and reached a certain level. When I interact with them, they sometimes feel embarrassed at what it's become today. It's more like a rat race. They sometimes tell me at the end of the day, anybody who's a journalist has some degree of respect for the work which is why they chose that part. But it boils down to the commerce or the headline. It boils down to sensationalising things where 'What can I take' becomes important. Sometimes, when you don't get something, people tend to make something out of something which actually isn't there at all. People twist, attribute and go as far as they can push something to create enough noise and grab attention. It is that SMS generation where everybody wants everything quick, concise with instant gratification.
And it's something we, as industries both, as actors as well as journalists need to kind of understand and go beyond, go past this. If this relationship and that trust has to survive. 14 years ago, I was never in a situation where I had three PR people standing when I'm talking to the journalists. I would invite them to my house, have coffee with them and chat. It would be so easy and casual. Everybody's on the defensive right now. Everybody needs a layer of protection now. You keep attacking and you are milking the proverbial cow too much. At the end of the day, we are actors and if people keep doing that to actors, we will keep putting more barriers. There will be lesser access which is what politicians are doing now because they got hammered so badly. That's going to affect both the industries. It's a very important and large question. I don't know how you are going to put this in perspective."
Weeeelllll, can you really blame the guy?
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