Update (04-Jan): Speaking in London where he is promoting his movie My Name is Khan, Shah Rukh Khan today said:
“I don’t know what the issue is all about…I don’t know what I am supposed to retract. Am I supposed to retract the fact I’m an Indian but I don’t want anyone to come to my country. What all that I’ve said is that I would like people to come to my country to participate in the biggest event and it scarce me to say anything because our stakes are very high. I have no idea what people would like me to say. If somebody could tell me this is what you would want me to say, I’ll say it. What all I have been taught by my father who was a freedom fighter for this country is wrong and my kids are steering wrong. It’s not a stand or a statement against anyone. It’s actually a sort of what I individually feel and normally when a film is releasing-to be really honest and I wouldn’t comment on it on a larger scale because it’s not nice when a Hindi film hero who is thought of as an icon, to say this. I am really sorry. I would like to apologise Karan Johar, to Kajol and I am immensely sorry to all our business partners that because of what I said, or what I believe in, their film and their work is going to be affected.”Karan Johar, producer and director of the film and co-star Kajol were present. (source)
We’ll Watch Your Movie Twice
There are limits to political hooliganism. The two ‘political’ gangs of Mumbai- Shiv Sena and Maharastra Navanirman Sena- have crossed those limits more than once. The Indian state and its much revered Democracy are mute spectators of the Sena anarchy. It is shameful that the Senas have taken the city of Mumbai hostage and rest of India is unable to do anything. So much with the super-power dream of new India.
I am not an Indian but as an admirer of Indian democracy, lover of Indian movies and songs and observer of Indian politics, I find the Shiv Sena’s latest threat to Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan absolutely preposterous and downright condemnable. So many other people, inside India and outside, share the same feeling. Yet, as of today, Khan finds himself virtually isolated. No one, not even from his own film industry, is daring to speak for him who expressed nothing but truth while commenting upon the recent IPL fiasco. Khan had recently regretted publicly saying that it was humiliating for him as an IPL team owner that no Pakistani cricketers was taken by any of the teams despite the fact that several talented Pakistani players were up for auction. He also praised the Pakistani cricket team, current T20 world champions, as being, well, the world champions.
I see nothing wrong with that. The Shiva Sena sees nothing right in that. They feel the actor shouldn’t have praised Pakistani players and expressed regret over their exclusion from the tournament because, according to them, it’s a matter of patriotism. Now the Sena is demanding that Khan should either retract from his statement (apologize) or go to Pakistan, as in leaving India for good. As if India belonged exclusively to the Thackeray clan and their goons at the Senas.
It is clear why Shiv Sena is targeting Shah Rukh. Shah Rukh Khan, the mega star of Indian film industry, is a Muslim. Shiva Sena, who plays the politics of Marathi Manoos, is a right-wing ultra-Hindutva outfit. That is the sole reason for the latest Sena outrage against Khan who has the right, constitutionally speaking, to say what he said in Indian democracy. The Sena’s act is clearly an example of religious chauvinism and highhandedness. Look at this statement by Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi, a former speaker of Indian parliament:
“Whether it’s Shah Rukh or anyone else, when the Shiv Sena says he must take back his comments, he’ll have to do it.”
What the f…!
Bollywood personalities are particularly vulnerable to Sena intimidation. They have careers in a movie that has to be screened in theaters of Mumbai. Theater-owners, in turn, have their money invested in those buildings. Sainiks aka gundas can easily vandalize those properties if theaters show the movies that they don’t like. In this case, Shiva Sena has threatened the theaters in Mumbai with action (read vandalism) if they dare to screen Shah Rukh Khan’s new movie My Name is Khan slated to be released on February 12.
“We can’t release the film and put our audience under threat unless the matter is resolved,” said a senior executive of a national multiplex chain on condition of anonymity.
This is not the first incident of intimidation by the Sena, led by Bal Thackeray, and its breakaway faction led by Raj Thackeray, cousin of Bal. They have done so number of times before and forced several Bollywood personalities to kneel down in front of them. Director/producer Karan Johar was recently forced apologize and change the script of the movie Wake Up Sid for referring to Bombay instead of Mumbai. My Name Is Khan is directed by Johar.
Meanwhile, Shah Rukh Khan has said there is no question of apologizing which is commendable.
Today I read a statement from Ramesh Sippy, a film distributor who owns Raksha Distributors, saying that Mumbai release of the movie was a must for its success. “Shiv Sena’s presence is limited to Maharastra. At the same time Mumbai is the home market, and it doesn’t make sense to release the film unless the producers and the political party reach a compromise. It is like releasing a Hollywood film worldwide but not in Los Angeles and New York. We are waiting, and are sure something will work out soon.”
Sippy is true that Mumbai is an important market for Bollywood movies. But Bollywood as an industry can’t remain hostage to the Sena all the time. It’s time Bollywood challenged the gundagardi of Sena. The producers- Fox Searchlight- must release the movie without Shah Rukh bowing to the Sena line and apologizing for no reason. The Indian people should teach Sena a lesson or two. In this case, by going to theaters multiple times to support Khan and Bollywood in general, regardless of the quality of the movie My Name Is Khan. I plan to do the same if Sena doesn’t allow the movie to be released in Mumbai. I’ll go to theaters in Delhi, where I am living now, multiple times. Until yesterday I wasn’t sure about watching the movie in theater but today I have decided that not only I’ll go for the movie but encourage my friends and colleagues to go and watch.
PS: I don’t want to be identified by or associated with any religion. I bash discrimination of all kinds including that those based on religion and hate religion-based politics. But when I have to reveal my religion, I say O am a practicing Hindu with utmost respect to other religions and faiths. The reason for this declaration is to make a point that no sane Hindu supports thugs like Bal/Raj Thackeray and their gangs- Senas.
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