In Criticism of Fans Who Maketh a Superstar

SONY DSCI’ll say it right off the bat, some people have all the luck in the universe and henceforth, Salman Khan should be used to connote that endorsement. Having being acquitted in 18-year long Chinkara poaching case, Bollywood’s over aged man-child who made career exhibiting his goon act both on and off screen is free again,  and his fans are happier than ever. I don’t want to comment on the acuity  of the decision, as doing so would implicate that firstly, I have something new to add on to the advancing debate and secondly, I’m using this space as a whetstone upon which  to grind a very private axe. Both the hypothesis is null and void.   However, I do have a bone or two to pick with the acquitted celebrity’s fandom, or might we say, his goon-dom?

Taking time out of hurling abuses at the only celebrity who dared to take a stand on Bhai’s preposterous rape comment, and refusing to believe that Sachin Kalbaug’s twitter feed might have mentioned their superstar in not (sic) all his colorful glory, legion of admirers rushed outside his place of residence in a bid to show love and solidarity for a man whose majority of life is narrative of criminal charges and getting rid of them; a man who has been acquitted of mowing down an homeless person, an insensitive brat who in an  insouciant manner mocked the deep physical trauma and psychological scar of rape survivors  by comparing it with his lifting of few dumb-bells. And to drive the knife in a little deeper, he arrogantly refused to apologize.

One cannot muster disregard for 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 forum. Alas! rather than making Salman eat his words, his fans ensured that his movie hordes another billion . So certainly, as a person who personally observes blanket ban on everything Salman,  I can’t help but question the morality and humanity of all those millions who continue to idolize this misogynist enfant terrible. And of course, their collective IQ.

While we are on the business of demanding apologies, lets backtrack a little. Remember the time when a certain young comedian made a few seconds video that showed Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar (both played by the comedian himself) having an mock conversation and the outrage that it triggered? Suddenly everyone was crying foul; they couldn’t stress enough how dignity of women was being impaled under the guise of ‘tasteless’ humor. 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 propositioning to investigate a larger conspiracy 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.

The video was banned because, among other things, it insulted a woman. Why wasn’t Sultan, then,  taken down after its actor made such an abominable comment? Why weren’t you, the aam junta on streets, threatening the over aged brat, promising to break his leg next time he came out?  Oh, are we only bullying the innocents making a rather honest- free-of-erstwhile-homicide-and-physical-abuse- charges living ? My bad!

The popularity of Salman Khan is bad for the nation. The amount of regression he continues to vomit on our screens is alarming, outstripped only by the urgency through which his fans rush to validate that balderdash.

India suffers from 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 more than willing to make excuses on behalf of his brassiness, 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 touching the nose – society takes a collective blow when it’s 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.

Image source: http://www.biodiversityofindia.org

 

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The good and the misunderstood

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

You know it’s 9 pm at my home when my mother promptly ceases everything she’s been doing to sit in front of TV set and devote half an hour watching Diya aur Baati; a merciless bore of a TV show, which, however wretched, happens to be Hindi entertainment channel’s most coveted soap opera.  Having said that, I have been following the show as ardently as my mom does since its very inception. Sounds tad hypocritical, innit?

Without delving further into as to why I watch a show that I’m evidently embarrassed to admit watching, let’s move to the bit wherein I endeavor to defend my choice by underscoring a certain positive out of an otherwise ghastly Saas-Bahu saga.

The show, like every other Hindi serial made available for public viewing, is doing everything wrong. Saintly daughter-in-law with a truck load of Sanskar entrenched, dreadfully obedient and whiter than white portrayal of a son, a meddlesome and unashamedly misogynistic mother-in-law; this show has every making of a typically nauseous and cringe-worthy Hindi daily soap. However, amidst all the gloom what caught my eye is a refreshing portrayal of  a female character, who not being the protagonist shouldn’t have mattered at all.

Beginning on antagonistic note, the showrunners unintentionally transformed the character (who, by the way, is one of the many Bahu of a self-indulgent clan), into occasional rational and regular individual. In an industry where characters are either overtly angelic or viciously demonic, coming across an ordinary personality with humble shades of grey is quite fascinating.

The lady in question does everything a normal day-to-day person will do; earn hard and spend warily, prioritize the welfare of her husband and children over the interest of others. Bearing in mind the fact that a working woman whose job plays a pivotal role in her life is a sight to behold in Indian television scenario, this female character, who knows just about every trick of her trade, is quite delightful. Mutinous and gleeful version of a woman, who isn’t genetically carved out to do everything right might be deemed as villainous by the traditional majority. I, however, am anticipating the day when such a whip-smart individual, who knows better than to shed buckets  of tears over bygones, is being promoted as the central character. That, for me, would mark the coming out of television industry from its deep slumber.