I'll say it right off the bat, some people have all the luck in the universe and Salman Khan is proof of it. Having been acquitted in a chinkara poaching case that dragged on for 18 years, Bollywood's middle-aged man-child who made his career exhibiting his goon act both on and off the screen is rid of yet another problem, and his fans are happier than ever. I don't want to comment on the acuity of the decision, as doing so would imply that firstly, I have something new to add to the advancing debate and secondly, that I'm using this space as a whetstone upon which to grind a very private axe. I wish to do neither. However, I do have a bone or two to pick with the acquitted celebrity's fandom, or might we say, his goon-dom?
Lest someone comes in Bhai's way, the fans will make sure to objectify the hell out of her. Because, you see, like celebrity like fan!
Taking time out from hurling abuse at the only celebrity who dared to take a stand on Bhai's preposterous rape comment, and refusing to believe that Sachin Kalbag's Twitter feed might have accurately described their superstar in all his "colourful" glory, legions of admirers rushed to congregate outside his place of residence in a bid to show their love and solidarity for a man whose life is essentially a narrative of criminal charges and getting rid of them -- a man who has been acquitted of mowing down a homeless person, an insensitive brat who insouciantly mocked the deep physical trauma and psychological scars of rape survivors by comparing their pain with his lifting of a few dumb-bells. And to drive the knife in a little deeper, he arrogantly refused to apologize.
One cannot muster disregard for the court's ruling, because, hello! Contempt of court? But what we, as a society can and should do is to make someone accountable for the nonsense they spew on public forums. Alas! Rather than making Salman eat his words, his fans ensured that his movie raked in another million. As a person who personally observes a blanket ban on everything Salman, I can't help but question the morality and humanity of all those millions who continue to idolize this misogynistic enfant terrible. And of course, their collective IQ.
While we are on the business of demanding apologies, let's backtrack a little. Remember the time when a certain young comedian made a short video that showed Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar (both played by the comedian himself) having a mock conversation and the outrage that it triggered? Suddenly everyone was crying foul; they couldn't stress enough how the dignity of women was being impaled under the guise of "tasteless" humour. Apparently calling an artist old is so much worse than mocking the agony of rape survivors. I question the authority of those who were shouting in the news rooms, demanding FIRs and insinuating that a larger conspiracy was at play. I question the credibility of the Bollywood fraternity that just couldn't come to terms with the "detestable" words directed against a fellow celebrity.
Society takes a collective blow when its millions blindly follow a man whose life is balance-sheet of serious allegations, acquitted or otherwise.
The video was banned because, among other things, it insulted a woman. Why wasn't Sultan, then, blocked after its actor made such an abominable comment? Why weren't you, the aam junta on the streets, threatening the 50-year-old brat, promising to break his leg next time he came out? Oh, are we only bullying those who make an honest living unbesmirched by former homicide and physical abuse charges ? My bad!
The popularity of Salman Khan is bad for the nation. The amount of regression he continues to spew on our screens is alarming, outstripped only by the urgency through which his fans rush to validate that balderdash.
India suffers from a vicious form of celebrity worship. Salman Khan's existence all but confirms that. His fandom has ensured that nothing, and I mean literally nothing, could ever stop him from being their darling. They are falling over themselves to make excuses for his brazen behaviour, his misdeeds. And lest someone comes in Bhai's way, they'll make sure to objectify the hell out of her. Because, you see, like celebrity like fan!
So this goes out to all the fans out there -- might they consider freeing that thumb from that nose? Society takes a collective blow when its millions blindly follow a man whose life, as I said, is balance-sheet of serious allegations, acquitted or otherwise. You can do better than that.
This post first appeared here.