Jan 292013

Bites the hand that feeds him – screamed the headline on Firstpost.in on Shah Rukh Khan, reminding me of Sholay. Had discussed the film with my class this morning, and the film was kind of fresh. The introductury scene of Gabbar, he is ranting at his 3 men for losing to those two. In the most chilling part of the scene – Gabbar pulls out a gun and plays Russian Roulette with his defeated men. He asks of one of them (Kalia)
“ab tera kya hoga kalia?”

Kalia squeeks – “Huzoor meine aapka namak khaya hai”

“ab goli kha” say Gabbar, shooting him.

This entire concept of namak khana, biting the hand that feeds them – is so incredibly – how does one put this nicely ? – feudal.


The fact that the author loathes SRK is fairly evident, what is more is that this loathing seems to have overcome any half decent form of accuracy. Hey, i know opinion pieces are meant to be opinion, but even opinion is based on a modicum of fact. Some samples :

More importantly, he was embraced by a generation of Indians who were evidently so swayed by his looks (or whatever else they saw in him) that they readily overlooked his vacuous performances, blessed him with fame and fortune – and even went on to crown him ‘King Khan’.

(embraced across generations – not preteens anymore – but pretty much the rest, and especially women)

At the peak of his career, Shah Rukh was spoken of in the same breath as the Shahenshah of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan. That comparison may have been valid in terms of the box-office appeal that both held, but a certain indefinable element of classy refinement that Bachchan exuded even when the cameras were not whirring remained forever out of reach of SRK.

subjective – and therefore one will not comment on it. biases are allowed. I have mine, am sure the author has his. Except that in the last year – SRK was the highest earner in Bollywood, not someone past the peak of his career.

In his eternal quest to be the ageless Peter Pan of Bollywood, Shah Rukh appears not to have come to terms with the fact that while once he may have commanded a forgiving fan following, he is well past his prime. Like the Norma Desmond character that Gloria Swanson essayed in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, he is only clinging on to the memories of a happier day when the arclights were turned on him and the adulation of fans enveloped him in a warm, glowing embrace.

good lord, this person obviously neither watches Hindi films nor follows box office reports. Norma Desmond, incidentally, is the lead character in Sunset Boulevard,  a silent era star, and who, in the film, hasn’t been seen since the coming of sound. SRK’s last film – the unintentionally funny – Jab Tak Hai Jaan – was one of the 8 films that crossed the 100 crore mark in theatrical revenue in India & twice that in overseas territories – (that means that many tickets were sold).

So, by every verifiable metric, it’s fair to say that Shah Rukh Khan has enjoyed more success – and earned more fame and fortune and fan-love – than he arguably deserves. Which is why it’s difficult to account for the victimhood chip – rooted in his identity as a Muslim – that he bears on his shoulders.

Who decides who deserves what ? He doesn’t deserve this on what parameter ? Has the author seen other super stars – desi and hollywood and their performances ? Does a Tom Cruise deserve success ? Superstars bring people to the theaters, they create value all down the value chain.

And, the author’s grouse :

In an interview that he gave to an overseas publication, Shah Rukh Khan is quoted as saying that he “sometimes become(s) the indvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India.”

Now, which part of inadvertent does the author want explained ?

this is a translated version of what was written in Samna after SRK suggested that Pakistani cricketers play in the IPL (for the record, i don’t support that or indeed them being cast in films or tv shows)

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday said Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan should be given Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishaan-e-Pakistan, for supporting the inclusion of Pakistani cricketers in the IPL.

Thackeray said in his party mouthpiece Samna that the ‘Khan’ inside Shah Rukh Khan must be crushed by the ‘Har Har Mahadev’ war cry.

The author goes on

It’s true, of course, that your films have had their problems with Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, who kicked up a shindig by protesting against your film My Name Is Khan on specious grounds.

The Shiv Sena did not have a problem with the film “My Name is Khan”, they had a problem with SRK statement regarding IPL and wanted to take it out on My Name is Khan in retaliation (btw i have seen the film and it is mawkishly sentimental)  And this is what SRK said , that got him into trouble

“They are the champions, they are wonderful but somewhere down the line there is an issue and we can’t deny it. We are known to invite everyone. We should have. If there were any issues, they should have been put on board earlier. Everything can happen respectfully,”

And, incidentally this is what Shilpa Shetty (another team owner, whose name is not Khan) had to say about the same issue:

“If you ask an Indian whether he would like to see Shahid Afridi play in our country, he would say yes. But you must look at it pragmatically and see that we have had these people who are constantly threatening.It’s not something we hold against the Pakistani players. We completely understand the situation but as franchise owners are we willing to take that risk? If something happens to the Pakistani players, the onus lies on us and who is going to take responsibility for a situation like that,”

And this is what Preity Zinta (another team owner, whose name is also not Khan) had to say about the Pakistani Players in IPL

”We would have loved to have the T20 world champions in our teams to bring real joy to the extravaganza but what can we do if we have certain threats about not only our own safety, but the safety of the Pakistani players too, with no official quarter assuring us of foolproof security of players during the tournament,’
Therefore, given the same event IPL, to be held post 26/11, with three star owned teams – if you eliminate all other factors – the only one left is that they picked on SRK because he is a Muslim. (it could also be because he is a man, but i dont think that he SS would eliminate 50%+  of their voters)
And it continues,
So, grow up, Shah Rukh, and learn to take it on the chin like a man. Don’t bite the hand that fed you – and made  you who you are – by running off to an overseas publication and crying your heart out, thereby providing the space for low-life terrorists like Hafiz Saeed to take potshots at India.
On SRK Being resposnible for Hafeez Saeed’s comments, it would be good to read the whole piece and figure where that comment came from. I daresay it was from mangled  headlines from the MSM. In which case, i wonder who is responsible for Hafeez Saeed’s comments. Also, what is this with treating Hafeez Saeed’s statement as being important, instead of dealing with it with the contempt it deserves – what do people expect from Hafeez Saeed –  Kudos for India?

On his being inebriated and badly behaved – sure – he is human. And,a flawed one at that. Where he attacks people who cannot fight back – like the security guard in Wankhade, please take him to task. When it is with other, equally successful,  members of the film  industry, let them sort it out.

I can criticize India, the armed forces, decisions on hanging terrorists or not, Pakistani Players or actors in India, peace with Pakistan and the rest of it – and not once (mabye once) there will be calls for me to move next door. People may question my logic, my intellect, my wisdom, my credentials – but not my right to be in India and make those comments. SRK has those rights too. He is a citizen and like all citizens has the right to critcize the system without having to prove his love for the country every time he does so.

Finally this is neither about the Indian state, nor the people of India, nor the great Indian paying audience – couldn’t care who was what religion so long as they sell tickets.  It is not even about political parties, apart from those  like the Shiv Sena – whose stock in trade this is. People from across the political spectrum came out to support SRK, when the Shiv Sena went on that blistering attack on him.

“We do not consider it correct to use such terms for Khan. His contribution to Bollywood and as a cultural ambassador is immense,” Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP, contradicting their ally in Maharashtra to defend SRK. .

This is rather a comment on the Indian media, who takes things out of context to raise passions, then when those passions are raised – whether it was in terms of misquoting SRK on IPL or in this current case, or indeed anyone else – use those raise passions to attract more eyeballs. Am not sure that this is meant to be the role of the media – to stir the pot and wait for people to get at each others’ throat.

I am not the world’s greatest SRK fan. there are films that i have enjoyed, films i have loathed and films i have not even bothered to watch.  But, this is a hatchet job. And, a badly researched hatchet job at that. I am not sure what bothers me more.

(declaration : I have neither met SRK, nor worked with him, or have pitched to him, or likely to – we are completely in different universes) ..

This, incidentally, is the piece that firstpost had issues with. and, it is a wry, funny piece on what it means to be a Khan …

  19 Responses to “In Defence of Shah Rukh Khan…”

  1. Brilliant! Thanks for a balanced point of view.

  2. Nice defense , I wish you would defend slanderous articles on other people the same way you defended SRK..including some ‘not so gentle’ ones on narendra modi

  3. Sorry I couldn’t understand what point are you trying to make here.
    SRK has a mass following. He says, He feels insecure in India. Who doesn’t in India. Goto Haryana, mess with Jats you would feel insecure. Goto UP, Rajasthan mess with Guzzars, yould certainly feel insecure.
    When a star claims that he is insecure because of his religion identity. He is only supporting those sentiments which was never felt but heard from their Religious Leaders.
    When he was on his career peak, he never mentioned being threatened and now when his career is draining down, He will make such comments. I now wonder why did he play roles like Rahul, Raj or Ramjane just to woo a certain community. Not done Sir!!

    • when you say “sentiments which was never felt but heard” is that from experience or an assumption?

      • A best friend of mine apparently “Khan” used to tell me that “our” country will never have a PM from his religion. I never understood why does he think so? He belongs to a wealthy family, never experienced “such //discrimination// trouble” in his life but thanks to his friends and other “acquaintances” back from his hometown. He always had a bad impression for this country.

        You mentioned that he got a threat from Shiv Sena. And his film faced a long protest from them. His movie did well Ma’am. I watched it in theater not because his religion identity but because I loved him as an actor. And yes Priety Zinta and Shilpa Shetty never got any attention. With all due respect, Ma’am, They did not have any movie on the floor at that time at all. And top of that SRK (TIME quoted him one of the most influential person in India recently) has been far bigger personality than aforementioned names. So he will always create far more news than any other person.

        We already have bad impression for each other. Thanks to Religion Based Politics and our Religious Leaders. These statements will only add more confusion between people of India. And the opportunistic people from all the religions will use his statement as a quote to impose their belief on others. (Differently Ofcourse)

        He is known as a brand ambassador of India, He should grow up now and make some mature statements which will bring more harmony between people and create a positive persona for India as a Nation in the world.


        • Have you even read SRK’s article? No, you haven’t. Please let me know where it says about feeling ‘insecure’. He is only talking about stereotyping and it is true that generalization and stereotyping are not uncommon integrals of our Indian society.

          • Pardon me Ma’am, I had read it before and now I have read it one more time, just to ensure if my understanding was not wrong. As mentioned earlier, this article will only create more confusion between young minds. He spoke about how he faced trouble in America, hundreds of people must have faced the same sort of trouble why only he has problem with that?? He wrote why he has been questioned, He is a “King of Bollywood”, every eyeball will be searching once King will be speaking.

            He thinks, he has reached beyond’s anyone reach because we treat him here like that thus no one should question him. Be it vankhade stadium, be it He slapping his colleagues. Sheer arrogance and power has made him completely blind and when he is not doing good professionally, So he would bring this victimization card so that he might gain some more sympathy of the community which have spread to other actors of bollywood.

            WHOA wait a minute please meet young people from muslim community in small cities you will get my idea, religious leaders will quote them time and again saying if “SRK IS NOT SECURE, WHO ELSE, THIS IS NOT YOUR COUNTRY.” blaah blah!!

            And Yes I can tell you this because I belong to a very prominent town of India (I shall not name it though)

            And with all due respect Ma’am, Please you read the article one more time and decide yourself what is he trying to convey!!


  4. Indians are retarded. This is why India is joke in the world. Worst country ever.

    • @Ashok Memon
      Worst country ever eh? May be you feel comfortable in Pakistan.

      To Author of this article:
      The point raised in Firstpost was not about SRK or his films.The point is his using of Victim card.On NDTV interview he replied to Barkha he was not harassed because of his religion all his life,why sudden change now.When he was on top of his career he never used victim card why suddenly now. 3 years back for him Pakistan was a “good neighbour” when the country wasn’t even got out of the trauma of 26/11.He was backed when he was on top by many Hindus and now too are.But he definitely lost some fanbase by using victim card.

  5. It was a really sick and stupid article, which didnt really deserve a defence.

  6. What an apt response! I hope the cheap thrill seeking ‘First Post’ makes a note of it and saves itself from being spoken in the same breath as India Tv. Media persons should realize that they can’t go around defaming anyone in the name of freedom of press.

  7. I am not able to understand why are Saamna’s editorials selectively being used to defend Shahrukh Khan.Venky Vembu expressed an opinion on Shahrukh Khan , the same way sundry liberals and unemployed leftists express their opinion on Modi.

    The article by Mr.Vembu was unflattering , ok …so what ? Has anybody read the articles and opinion pieces on Modi.If you really want to know what a “hatchet job” is , then please read the Op-Ed’s in The Hindu where every alternate day the BJP or Modi is slandered.

    It is ironical that the same liberals who defend “freedom of speech” viciously , are criticizing Mr.Vembu.Shall we all behave like groupies of actor’s belonging to the ‘minority’ community ?

    Mr.Bacchhan was abused and vilified when he chose to endorse Gujarat Tourism by the same gang which is attacking Mr.Vembu.The illiberalness of our liberals is so obvious ,you dont even need to read between the lines.

    I am proud of Mr.Vembu who has the courage to speak his mind.

    • I agree with you Mr.Rohiit. Mr.Vembu is a generally balanced writer and I don’t know what Irfan Habib’s agenda is , not withstanding his repeated declarations of distance from SRK. It seems like Habib was waiting to hit at Venky on any pretext and he picked this one, even though he had little to attack Venky with.

  8. The “whole piece” mentioned in this line : ” it would be good to read the whole piece and figure where that comment came from ” and the twitlonger link mentioned in the last line is same, right ?

  9. I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India. There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation than my own country — this even though I am an Indian whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave my home and return to what they refer to as my original homeland,


  10. SRK doesn’t deserve the lengthy defense that the author of this article has given him. Somehow, it always comes down to that doesn’t it. There is always a need to defend SRK. Be it hitting a simple guard for doing his job, or smoking in a public place or him so shamelessly promoting fairness creams (which is one of the reasons he is the highest earning bollywood actor btw. Honest to god, if you give him enough money, the man will promote 18 again vaginal tightening cream too) and sees no racism in that, but when it comes to being pulled up by America starts crying about how the worlds is conspiring to bring a brown man down. After his recent catastrophes like Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Ra.One there is a need to defend his talent too. My friend who is possibly the biggest fan of SRK says “His potential is unexplored.” It’s been close to 25 years that he’s been in this industry, and yet “his potential is unexplored” He rides on his potential and not his skill. Inspite of that he receives unquestionable love from a fan the way you would expect your dog to love you. But note that “He feels insecure” This is a call to action for all Indians. To make SRK and his family feel secure.

    Stop living in this bubble SRK and fans.

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