- So why unlike the Uber Hollywood stars do our Bollywood superstars remain quiet?
- It’s a mix of the fear factor of vindictive government action on income tax cases and protecting their brand.
All through my growing up years, the trio of the three Khans — Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir — were India’s sweethearts, dominating our imagination and setting a billion hearts aflutter.
Men learnt the art of romance from Shah Rukh with those arms spread (signature move), the dimples and the twinkle in the eyes. Women simply swooned as he enacted various avatars of “Rahul” and “Raj”.
Salman was the “bhai”, a moniker, he once told me in an interview, that irritated him because everyone felt entitled to use it to address him.
Before he became “Being Human,” his charity foundation, he had been a text book bad boy - alleged drunk driving leading to death, alleged shooting of Blackbucks and a reputation as a tempestuous lover allegedly beating up many of his girlfriends.
Yet “bhai” was always forgiven his excesses by crazed fans who joyously gave him the demanded “Eidi” for his blockbuster movie releases.
Aamir was the thoughtful Khan who seemed to excel in his craft despite several controversies around his relationships.
The Khans are now in their 50’s and seemed to have been tamed by time and the Narendra Modi government.
Shah Rukh, who had earlier been vocal about racial profiling in the United States when he was singled out and allowed Pakistani cricketers to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) — he owns a team — Kolkata Knight Riders, has gone utterly silent.
Shah Rukh is an alumnus of the Jamia-e-Millia Islamia University and yet he has not uttered one word in support of his beleaguered alma mater.
As students, who were beaten up inside the campus even the libraries, asked Khan for support, he remains quiet.
The last public occasion he participated alongside Aamir was a selfie with Modi at the Prime Minister’s residence.
As India’s new Citizenship Act applies a religious filter, Muslims in India pilloried and attacked for six years, finally decided to protest.
And wanted some support from “bhai” who they had lavished unconditional love on every Eid. Salman, who had earlier flown kites with Modi when he was Gujarat Chief Minister, is quiet.
And his latest huge blockbuster Dabang 3 is reflective of the public mood - it has not quite set the box office afire like the earlier insane collections of the franchise.
Aamir, after a very nasty brush with the BJP IT cell where they asked Snapdeal to drop him as brand ambassador for his and his wife Kiran Rao’s comments on “intolerance,” has not said a political word. Nothing “Rang de Basanti” about him. He just played that character.
The silence of the Khans
So why unlike the Uber Hollywood stars do our Bollywood superstars remain quiet?
Read more from Swati Chaturvedi
- Tears and laughter have meaning only when shared. Kashmir can’t share anything now
- Kashmir lockdown, arrest of activist, WhatsApp spying: Is India headed from democracy to police state?
- Amit Shah sounds the whistle – Muslims to be targeted again in India with another NRC
- As second generation leaders exit the BJP, the mask is off
It’s a mix of the fear factor of vindictive government action on income tax cases and protecting their brand.
Sadly, being timid seems to have lost them the fandom of the students protesting now.
Earlier, the Khans symbolised the zeitgeist now they seem to be running away from. The trio needs to re-invent, embrace their age and move beyond romance.
As India grows up and fights for the Constitution, the students and those targeted need the Khans. Finally a chance to be real life heroes. Might even help the reel.