Aye, you, I am talking to you, weren't we supposed to not watch Salman's latest movie? Remember? We ladies in particular were supposed to be all offended over the insensitive rape analogy? I had decided to not even bat an eyelid when I heard about (and I am not going to call him by his cutesy brotherly nickname) Salman's acquittal in two poaching cases, because the way I look at it, if the man can go scot-free for killing a human being then a chinkara is literally "kis jhad ki patti". To now hope he'll at least get a sentence for killing a blackbuck is like expecting the Congress and BJP to become best buddies.
Is the public also going to pardon Nirbhaya's murderers, just as long as they start a charitable trust and claim to possess a heart of gold?
So, like I said, I was not going to waste my time commenting on Mr Khan's escape, but then when you are having a bad day -- the kind of day which most women in their 40s will identify with, when things are not going according to plan and you feel like you must fake love towards humanity -- the one thing that keeps you from killing another human being is finding the right person to blame for everything that is going wrong. I found my blame-worthy target when I heard the acquittal news. But no, my anger is not towards Salman Khan. It's towards those of us who choose to ignore his unacceptable behaviour and continue to readjust our expectations from him.
You see, Mr Khan was expected to be found guilty in a hit-and-run case, we all know how that went. He was accused by a co-actress/ex-girl friend of harassment, we saw how that went. Then there were remarks/tweets about the 26/11 attacks, hanging of Yakub Memon, which many thought were inappropriate, but Mr Khan does and says what he wants to, the latest being comparing his level of tiredness for filming of the movie Sultan to the pain experienced by a rape victim. Now, get this: he is getting paid for filming this movie, it's not some charity work for which he has to slog, so why cry like a child for working hard for a job that's going to fetch you millions? But then again, just as Houdini inspired wonder for his logic-evading great escapes, Salman enthrals us with his powers of circumventing culpability for his actions and words. And guess who helps him with a feel-good pat on the back every time he escapes? Oh yeah, it's us, the aam janata.
The baton -- the choice to abandon the theatres -- is in the hands of the public. And we have time and again chosen to go out to watch to his films...
We are a bunch of strange folks. We are passionate about changing our display pictures on Facebook to show solidarity for terror-hit Paris, we took acute interest in the ramifications of Brexit, we are insanely plugged into the US presidential elections – there are all signs pointing to a society whose collective IQ is above average. Then why is it that we turn to mushy slobs whenever a Salman movie is out? We forget all about his outrageous behaviour and run to the cinema halls to buy those expensive tickets, and settle into the comfy chairs, eager to "remove our head from our torso" (a pre-requisite of watching Salman's films) and happily get carried away. Fully knowing that laughing all the way to the bank is this man-child who thrives on being on the wrong side of the law and getting away with it. Yes he started a charity called Being Human, but then, is the public also going to pardon Nirbhaya's murderers, just as long as they start a charitable trust and claim to possess a heart of gold? I can come to terms in understanding the pressure some judiciary officials might encounter when addressing matters pertaining to Salman's case, but the public at large don't have to feel burdened. The baton -- the choice to abandon the theatres -- is in the hands of the public. And we have time and again chosen to go out to watch to his films as eagerly as children taken to play a new video game.
Remember the Aesop's fable "The Thief and his Mother"? At the end of the story, when the man is being led to the gallows he comes close to his mother and bites off her ear lobe while whispering to her, "Mother, if only you had beaten me at the very beginning when I did wrong the first time, then I would not have been condemned to death!" If we were to draw analogy here, then we viewers are the mother in Salman's story.
I would give Salman Khan a "B" for effort for starting Being Human, but being human also means being culpable, being held responsible. So, if the man can get himself to utter the words, "I am sorry for what I have done," his stardom will grow in leaps and bounds, and the critics might forgive him too. Until such a time comes, it's just us ordinarily people like you and me who must bear the cross for the killing of those chinkaras, the blackbucks and Nurulah Mahbob Sharif, the homeless man who died at the hands of whoever was driving the car on the night of 28 September, 2002.