What’s in a name, anyway?” asked Shakespeare in his 16th century play Romeo and Juliet. Centuries later, the virtual world is echoing the answer to it aggressively — trolling. Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi, barely a fortnight old, is already bearing the brunt of the ire of Twitteratti for his name. Born to celebrity couple Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, Taimur is already paying the price of fame. Social media has been flooded with wisecracks since the name was announced, for his namesake was a Turco-Mongol conqueror who invaded India and killed thousands of people.
A 14th century king, Taimur or Tamerlane (used in the West) had the reputation of being a vicious conqueror who could bring down cities to ashes. His ambition was to recapture the empire of Genghis Khan and to rule the world. His conquests extend from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan to large parts of Turkey and Syria, and the north-western portion of India (Delhi).
His conquest of India in 1938 was grand– an army of more than 90,000 men destroyed the native battalion. He looted tons of treasure from the city and also took back 90 war elephants with him to Samarkhand. Unlike his other conquests, he slaughtered thousands of people and justified this brutality. He called for a holy war against the Hindu religion. This barbaric conquest is the reason f r the social media madness over the name.
Karan Johar’s announcement of the baby’s name on Twitter on December 20 invoked thousands of negative comments. Tweets that labelled the couple as ‘anti-national’ and ‘Jihadists’ also surfaced. This controversy has left the Twitterverse divided — with #TaimurAliKhan being used mostly by those posting the jokes while #IStandWithTaimur is being used to show support for the name. But it really does raise a question regarding what is acceptable and what is not in our society. Taimur , just like King Ashoka and many others killed thousands of people. While the other names are widely acceptable in the society, why is Taimur being singled out?
This can be explained by the culture of ‘celebrity worship’ that is garnered in our society. Celebrities lead public lives- everything from what they wear to what they eat comes under scrutiny. People are inquisitive about these mindless details because their lives seem fascinating. ‘Celebrity Worship’ makes you put celebrities on a pedestal; a level higher than you. The celebrities are then perceived only as objects of consumption, rather than the humans they are. It is because of this obsession that our society
can’t allow the naming of the star couple to take place regularly.
Another explanation for the hullaballoo is the deeprooted Islamopbahobia and intolerance in our society, say some. Numerous tweets have shamed the parents for going ahead with the name ‘Taimur’ despite its historical connotation and what it stands for. Some even suggested names of terrorists that could have been taken instead. The name has already spiralled off onto debates about patriotism. Critics say such conclusions are drawn when the society is not willing to bend its beliefs from what it sees as right.
Outraged at the kind of hate being circulated on Twitter, Taimur’s uncle, Rishi Kapoor, took to Twitter to lash out at the trollers. In a series of strongly worded tweets, he asked others to mind their own business and added that people should not be bothered with what the parents want to name their child. Similarly, Omar Abdullah tweeted in support of the parents. He said that only parents should decide the name of the baby and that the opinion of the rest should not matter. Journalist Barkha Dutt’s take on the event summed up the controversy perfectly. She tweeted, “Just when you think Twitter can’t get any dumber, it scrapes to the bottom.”