It has been fun to watch TV news channels in the last few days, especially English News Channels. The Shiv Sena vs. Shahh Rukh Khan saga is a made-for-TV event and the channels are milking it to the fullest. Indeed it is a dream scenario for the righteous and secular English news media – a purportedly modern, secular and iconic Muslim under siege from a rabid and lumpish Hindu right-wing party. What more could have the channels asked for?
Therefore, it has not been surprising that the entire English language media has united in this battle – in favour of SRK and against the Sena. That it has come at a time when Sena was making an ass of itself on the Marathi manoos issue has further emboldened the secular mafia – they have cleverly intermixed both the issues while demonizing the Sena.
The calculation of the secular mafia was ingenious – they knew, that just a day before, Sena had no backers at all on their chavunistic “Mumbai only for Marathi” issue. For the first time even the RSS and BJP had publicly criticized the Sena. And rightly so, for what the Sena was advocating was extreme parochialism and even some sort of separatism. So even if the Sena had any merit in their criticism of SRK, the secular mafia knew that no one would come to its defense. And no one did. The secular mafia had a field day in demonizing anything Sena while eulogizing everything SRK.
But the theme of this blog is – does Sena indeed have any merit in their stance against SRK? Here is my take:
SRK is the owner of Kolkata Night Riders. He was part and parcel of the now infamous IPL 3 auction that kicked up this whole row. And he was part and parcel of the decision, along with others, in not bidding for any Pakistani player. Remember, there was no official diktat from the government to not pick any Pak player. Chidambaram is on record having said this. At best, there was an informal understanding amongst all the owners that they would keep away from potential trouble by not bidding for Pak players.
Informal understanding! Which means it was voluntary and anyone who felt strongly against this understanding could have broken ranks and choosen to tread his / her own path. Yet none did. Not even SRK. He had opportunity to buy Pak players, if he so choose. But he did not. Instead he bought Shane Bond, and not for example Razzak. And neither did any of the other owners buy any Pak players.
When the furore broke out on the media (which I think was appalling and uncalled for), some owners did come out and presented their view point. Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty were on TV and said what was essentially the truth – that they could not risk money on Pak players since they were unsure about their participation. Infact they even faced flak for stating this truthfully! And it was indeed the simple truth – all the IPL owners had gone by this dictum alone. It was understandable too – who would put money on something so risky?
But what did SRK do? He chooses to remain silent in the initial days of the furore. And then made his by now famous statement – that he regretted that Pak players were not picked, that it was like an insult to them, that his family is from Pak and that he would like to see Pak Players play in India.
Here is my question – if SRK had such feelings then why did he not bid for the players during the auction itself? Why did he go along with the consensus? As Home Minister clarified, there was no government diktat against picking Pak players. SRK could have choosen to pick a Pak player, if he so wanted. Yet he did not. He went along with the voluntary consensus. Read VOLUNTARY!
If he did not put his money where his mouth was, what business did he have to opine that Pak players were insulted? Was he not part of the insult process?
SRK is not like the media writers and commentators who could just write articles on the way Pak players were treated and maybe cringe. SRK had the wherewithal to alter the course of event. Yet he did not.
So why did he speak the way he did? As some have already suggested – My Name is Khan (MNIK) is up for release. The large number of Pakistani Diaspora, living abroad, is a major chunk of viewers of his movies. He wanted to sound reasonable to them, just in case anyone reminded them that SRK was party to the insult of Pak players.
Good enough. This was pure and simple protection of business interests, the overseas earnings of the MNIK. But then, it was pure business – and not some high moralistic position that SRK had taken. Infact what he has done is the absolute opposite of morality – he has been duplicitous in first being fully part of a process and then later denouncing it at his convenience.
The moral and secular media, which have been so content in bashing the Sena, has not even once asked SRK about his amazing and hypocritical turn around. Maybe, because it does not suit them. They want their straitjacket Nobel (SRK) vs. Evil (Sena) battle to be the lead story. They don’t want to look at the shameless turn around of SRK and acknowledge that he too may have some evil !
Since it is a cricketing issue let me use an analogy – it is almost gospel that what happens in the dressing room remains in the dressing room, never to be talked outside. Everyone involved in the dressing room of IPL 3 auction has followed this code – except SRK. He choose to break the dictum for his own selfish ends – greater commercial success of his movie. Infact Hindi language has a much better word for what SRK has done – “Doglapan” – which translated means difference between words and deeds.
Bash the Sena by all means on Marathi manoos issue – but pause and question SRK too on his doglapan!