Last week, Shah Rukh Khan celebrated his 50th birthday. To those of you who were brought up on his Bade bade deshon mein aise choti choti baatein hothe rehte hei, SRK’s 50th is by no means a small feat. It is after all, a day of celebration for fans and lovers of Indian cinema. But when one expected Khan to romance with his aquiline nose and lift his arms ever so slightly in a characteristic ‘let-me-hug-you-my way for his B-day; Shah Rukh opened his mind on increasing restrictions on creative expressions and freedom of choice. “There is growing intolerance in the country,” warned the Baadshah of Bollywood. Predictably, after his statement, right-wing leaders equated SRK to a ‘terrorist’ and told him to go to Pakistan.
Despite Bollywood being a Khanistan, not any one of the other Khans has ever come under the scanner for their Muslim identity. Once, when the bumbling Salman Khan had expressed support for Yakub Memon, alleged co-conspirator of Mumbai blasts, the twitterati had trolled him heavily. Barring this, all the three Khans have been largely loved for their screen image of a Hindu Rahul/Raj or Prem. It is in the presence of this comfortable avatar that SRK, an Indian ‘Muslim’ actor had called a spade, a spade.
When Salman Khan became the large-hearted gentle giant of a bhai and Aamir Khan, the intelligent actor with his Satyameva Jayate, the Baadshah of Bollywood was always dismissed as a narcissist. Or worse still, a la Mills and Boon man who sent teenage hearts into a tizzy. Shah Rukh too, reinforced the image. “I am the best and I love romance,” he said. But, beneath such obvious readings, there always lay an intelligent man who spoke his mind with wit and charm. A reporter’s delight, Shah Rukh effortlessly made fun of his contemporaries even when they resorted to ad hominem attacks.
While Salman has openly expressed his admiration for Modi-led BJP and Aamir for AAP, Shah Rukh’s political leanings has always been a subject of curiosity. In 2014, after the Modi-led government came to power, Shah Rukh along with a slew of Bollywood actors had wished the government the very best for their tenure. It is in the wake of the present set of incidents that SRK had expressed his anguish.
“This is a country where my father fought for freedom… so, I am very proud of it and I am not giving away what my father gave (me) to anyone… so please, shut up,” Shah Rukh responded to the Tweets asking him go to Pakistan.
Nothing like saying it as it is, Mr Khan. Take a bow.