Sometimes actors end up enacting their reel role in their real lives, which is a sign that doomsday is round the corner. By comparing his rigorous exercise schedule and the pain thereafter to that of “raped woman”, Salman Khan, the superstar has brought to the fore another side of him, which had been long forgotten. At least he would like to think so. While Salman Khan’s name is synonymous with blockbusters, Rs 100 crore film or maybe Rs 500 crore, the other side is that of a man who has always courted controversy, whether in the case of killing endangered blackbucks in Rajasthan or allegedly beating up almost all his ex-girlfriends or going on a suicide mission, drunk, while driving his infamous Toyota Land Cruiser. But it is not Salman Khan that makes me uncomfortable for we expect this of him. After all, the sheen of Being Human is going to wear off someday. At least that’s what many of us would like to think. It’s the Indian film industry that makes me uncomfortable, especially their studied silence on Salman’s remark on women. The film industry, popularly named as Bollywood, has turned into a world they depict in their movies, a world which is morally corrupt, but still champions morals in their movies, a world where bhaigiri is the order of the day, despite disowning the camps that exist, a world where lead actresses are treated or rather viewed as lesser beings even while they play strong characters on screen in the name of meaningful cinema. The fraternity is not fraternal in some ways, especially when it concerns women, but has shown its fraternal side in this particular episode.
This is nothing to be proud of; except for Kangana Ranaut and some other few, not one leading actor, leave alone actresses, has condemned Salman Khan’s statement. Rather, adding to the horror, people like Farah Khan and Priyanka Chopra have accused the media of playing up the controversy to hike their ratings. People like Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan should not forget that they are “superstars”, not demigods and the reason they are popular is because people actually watch their films. There is a group of sycophants out there who actually take the trouble of watching first day first show and are responsible for the producers and directors making crores of rupees. It’s not free entertainment that you provide, it comes for a price. For thousands of people out there who look up to you, the least you can do is actually to uphold the moral standards that you set in your films. It’s not the actor or actresses that are to blame entirely, for we, as a nation, equally share the blame for making gods and goddesses out of them. We are responsible for putting them on a pedestal and that is one of the reasons why we fail to reconcile ourselves when an actor or actresses commits a human error. Why should they be treated any differently just because they provide us entertainment? Charity is also being done for a cause and the cause is entirely theirs. It is to build a brand and cash in on it. Nothing else explains this feeling better than the scene of teary eyed fans who assembled out of Sanjay Dutt’s house when it was certain he was being sent to jail. Many came forward and argued that he was being singled out for being a celebrity and that he did not deserve it. There is no doubt our mind that Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist and that he did not share the views of the likes of Tiger Memon, the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai blasts. But Sanjay Dutt had erred, which was something he was going to be held accountable for. He displayed a degree of humility while accepting the verdict and made a truce. He was ready to apologise. Not many out there, especially actors can do it with conviction.
Actress Priyanka Chopra, in an interview, has asked us to concentrate on the real issue, i.e., rape. What she needs to know is, we are doing exactly that. She needs to know that playing a tough and honest cop in her last film, Jai Gangajal isn’t going to win her a few more admirers, especially when she is trying very hard to skirt the real issue. The real issue is the insensitivity shown by Khan while making his comment. That is one of reasons that the NCW has demanded that Salman should apologise. Trivialising rape is worse than rape itself as it shows a greater degree of insensitivity to the rape victim and her family.
The film fraternity is slowly showing its hypocritical side to the world, something which they have held close to their chest for so long. They need to know that they are not only encouraging discrimination at their end but also supporting a cause or causes or people who are so arrogant that they has lost their power to perceive reality. In reality, it’s actually a reel world with reel relationship farther from reality.