I know, I really, really, really shouldn’t. I shouldn’t. I should learn from my Slapgate post and my SRK-Koimoi drama. But what the heck. If you don’t write about SRK, what’s the point of having a Bollywood blog eh?
The MCA/Deshmukh’s version is that SRK was drunk and he was trying to push his way onto the field and when he was stopped, he started hurling abuses and fists at the security guard with absolutely NO provocation.
SRK’s version is that he went to the stadium (with his sister, who remained in the car) to pick up his kids and their teeny-bopper friends. He went up to the bleachers to congratulate some members of the team and from there, he saw the security guard manhandling the children who were playing on the pitch (and not on the field, as that isn’t allowed). That’s when he became angry and he ran down to stop the guard from pushing the kids around. Some dude “from behind” said something which I suspect was a racial slur (hence SRK’s statement that “things like that shouldn’t be said in this day and age but I don’ t want to elaborate on it”), and this made SRK angrier and that’s how things blew out of proportion.
I know there are more than enough people who somehow want to believe that SRK is a guy who just walks around belligerently drunk all the time provoking people into brawls and fights for absolutely no reason. But where is the precedence for this?
Why would he be drunk when he wasn’t even at the match and he was going to pick up a gaggle of pre-teens to take them home? And if you’ve listened to the audio you know – he’s definitely angry, but he’s not drunk.
Did he lose his cool? Yes. He shouldn’t have, and he’s the first to admit this. But he also felt that what took place was wrong and given a second chance he wouldn’t behave differently.
He never talked to the press about Slapgate. He never, ever said a single word against Shirish Kunder. Why? Because Farah is family. And despite all the accusations flung at him during those first 24 hours, he kept his mouth shut and never defended himself. But he called a press conference for Wankhede because he believes he had a legitimate reason to do so and the MCA is not a private matter (like Farah-Shirish), but a public one. Besides, Deshmukh is the one who went cray-cray in the press first talking about a ban like that was going to accomplish anything other than give him a chance to show how powerful he is.
Stars Above The Law?
Anyone who’s had to deal with a desi bureaucrat knows the “i’m-so-drunk-with-power-i-can’t-hear-you” face. Whether you’ve gone to get a visa, dealt with an immigration or customs official, or God forbid had to deal with the police, you’ve had a whiff of it. When that power hungry attitude gets a chance to confront one of the world’s biggest superstars, shit goes down. Let’s not pretend that they are innocent victims cowering before a big bad belligerent Bollywood star.
I’ve never understood this belief many people have that celebrities are above the law. I don’t think they are – even during the Saif scandal – they don’t “get away” with stuff. Rather, they go through what the average citizen would go through with the added benefit of being raked through the mud in the press and in the public with the alleged “victims” feeding off the celebrities for their 5 minutes of fame. So how are they getting away with anything? They face the law AND they face public scrutiny. And most of the time, they come away looking like assholes.
And it’s the same this time with Wankhede. So maybe they didn’t throw him in jail because he’s a star. But what they did in the bargain is arguably worse – this power play and allegation throwing in public. Whatever happens, SRK loses. Coz once it’s a headline, no matter how false, it sinks into public consciousness never to be erased.
On The End Of SRK
So then, various news outlets and columnists have taken this latest opportunity to express faux-concern about his “mid-life” crisis which is nothing more than veiled glee at what they hope is the end of this actor’s career. Sorry folks. That’s not going to happen. Stars like Shahrukh don’t self-destruct. They go through a rough patch and re-emerge.
Are we seeing an angrier SRK than we ever have before? Definitely. But this is also the first time in his career that he’s been facing almost constant and unrelenting negative press and scrutiny. Of course it’s going to have an adverse effect on him. There isn’t a single star in Bollywood or anywhere else who doesn’t go through a phase like this.
Lest all his detractors forget where he came from, how he rose, how he sustained his position even while his contemporaries were going through their own rough patches (from which they’ve emerged) – the pre-Ra.One SRK held his King Khan position just fine for a long time. There’s no question that Ra.One broke him to a great extent – he had all his hopes (and finances) pinned on it (not, like some claim, because he wanted to be some poster-boy hunk, but because it was a breakthrough in SFX and what he had hoped would be a breakthrough in subject matter for Hindi films). So, Ra.One didn’t live up to expectations. At least give the guy credit for trying.
What he was met with, at Ra.One’s failure, was unprecedented glee. It wasn’t a polite criticism of the film – it was a media massacre. And I think it was unfair. I know yes, maybe he was asking for it because he deluged us with promotions for 6 months prior to the release but still – it couldn’t have been easy for any actor/producer to watch his baby go down in flames like that.
So maybe cut him some slack. When’s the last time you risked everything for a project only to have it brutally trashed and ridiculed? Have you never had a fight with a security official somewhere who was acting like a jackass? Yeah, uncomfortable ain’t it? But luckily for you, it didn’t become a national matter.
The argument goes, he’s a star and he should deal with it. If he made a bad film, he has to deal with the consequences. If he loses his cool in public, he has to deal with it. Sure. But he’s also human and it’s easier to say “deal with it” than it is to actually do it.
So SRK hasn’t figured out how to adjust in this new media-frenzied world. While Salman just ignores it and Aamir clinically strategizes how to make it work for him, SRK hasn’t come up with a strategy. He tweets when he wants to, gives interviews when he wants to, oversaturates himself in the press, makes bold statements that people completely misconstrue as arrogance.
If they looked a little deeper they would realize those statements and actions come from a man with no genuine support system in the industry, or heck even in his family, who perhaps still hasn’t come to terms with how the hell all this happened to him in the first place. Not to get over-sentimental about it but SRK doesn’t have the most peachy-keen personal life. His sister’s sick and his parents are long gone. He’s been taking care of everyone his whole life and had no one to fall back on except himself (and no, Yash Chopra and Karan Johar don’t count). And he’s a self-made
superstar global superstar in one of the most cut-throat industries in the world.
I mean really, even in Bollywood’s history, there hasn’t been worldwide stardom like SRK’s.
That’s a lot for one lifetime.
SRK needs to re-strategize. No doubt. But that’s IT. Why are we ringing the death knell on his career? Even the invincible Mr. Bachchan went through absolute doom and survived. Why are we so eager to watch SRK go down in flames?
Incidents like Slapgate or Wankhede can’t be planned – that’s just a case of wrong place, wrong time, the infamous bura waqt that everyone deals with at one point or another. But certainly, no more stage shows, no more awards hosting, no more cliched movie roles, maybe fewer interviews and as much as I would hate it, perhaps no twitter either. There’s no point when the media is always waiting in the wings to turn every tiny thing into a scandal.
And you may ask – so why doesn’t he do it already? And to that I would say – how would he even know what the right move is? Aamir comes from a film family, so does Salman. Stardom and filmy shenanigans and the ups and downs of filmy life are second nature to them. They have the benefit of family experience and growing up filmy to fall back on. They also still have parents. SRK has no such background or filmy family support system. And you can take the guy out of Delhi but….you know how the saying goes.
That’s not to say he won’t figure it out, but just give him some time. Aamir disappeared for 5 years after Lagaan, wisely handling his own mid-life crisis away from public view. Salman did one bad film after another for years. Akshay too went through (and is arguably still going through) a tough time. And (totally off-topic but) why only point fingers at SRK for working with actresses half his age? The rest of them do the same but don’t get nearly as much criticism for it.
So yeah – the entire thing, this entire SRK-show rides on his shoulders and his alone. He’s buckling a bit. He’s getting older. His life is changing in full public view. He hasn’t figured out how to deal with it all yet. So sue him for not living up to YOUR expectations of how he should handle his singularly unique life and career.
But it ain’t over. By far.