SRK & The Whole Firstpost Fiasco



Even though this thing doesn’t deserve to be dragged out anymore than it already has been, I can’t help but put on my SRK defense gloves (they’ve gotten dusty, it’s been a while) regarding the whole Firstpost – slash- Outlook drama.

If by some chance you don’t know what went down, Firstpost published this article claiming essentially that SRK is “feeding off of Muslim victimhood”. It is literally entitled:

King Of Victimhood: SRK Bites The Hand That Fed Him

Now, I am not denying Mr. Venky Vembu his right to hate SRK. Which he clearly does.

…he was embraced by a generation of Indians who were evidently so swayed by his looks (or whatever else they saw in him) that they readily overlooked his vacuous performances, blessed him with fame and fortune – and even went on to crown him ‘King Khan’.

You want to rant? Go ahead and rant. That’s what the internet is for.

So, by every verifiable metric, it’s fair to say that Shah Rukh Khan has enjoyed more success – and earned more fame and fortune and fan-love – than he arguably deserves.

What I can’t forgive however, is that you, a supposedly “intelligent” journalist writing for a supposedly “intellectual” paper would write  such an appallingly ignorant and openly racist rant without even reading the entirety of the original source text that you were basing your rant on!

And what was the original text? First of all, it wasn’t an “interview” and nor was it for a “foreign publication”. Shahrukh wrote a column for a special Outlook India – New York Times collaboration issue.

Second of all, not only did Mr. Venky not read the entire column, because it wasn’t available online and one actually had to drag one’s ass to a magazine stand to buy an issue, but most people in India and abroad hadn’t read the entire article yet either. Because we’re lazy and we don’t want to buy stuff.

But that doesn’t prevent us from making all sorts of accusations against Shahrukh Khan. A few quotes were pulled from Shah’s column and circulated around the media to promote the magazine issue. Mr. Venky based his entire rant around those quotes and didn’t even bother to seek out the full article before calling Shahrukh, essentially, un-patriotic (yet again). Racist comments began to pour out the wazoo by people who also hadn’t read Shah’s entire column and in all likelihood never will.

It was only AFTER the Firstpost article hit twitter that someone somewhere thankfully decided to post and link the full SRK column before things got out of control.

But, because his name is Khan, he’s damned if he does and he’s damned if he doesn’t. Even though it’s the journalists and their websites who get mileage out of SRK, they turn around and accuse him of hogging the spotlight. How and why did anyone come to the conclusion that Shah was angling for sympathy?

So he wrote a column. Why? Probably because they asked him to. Because he writes well. Because he’s intelligent, witty and thoughtful and likes to express himself. And because 99% of the time what he has to say is far more insightful than the uninformed opinions that invariably follow his every word. There’s no other agenda. Really. The agenda is in your head, not his.

If Mr. Venky did understand why millions of people around the world love Shahrukh so much, he would never have jumped to the conclusion that SRK was playing the victim card. He would’ve known that Shah has never expressed anything but immense gratitude and bewilderment towards the love he receives from his fans. He would’ve known that Shah’s intention in writing that column was neither about being Muslim, nor about terrorism or racial profiling. It was, ultimately, as all things are in Shah’s mind, about love.

My life has led me to understand and imbibe that love is a pure exchange, untempered by definition and unfettered by the narrowness of limiting ideas. If each one of us allowed ourselves the freedom to accept and return love in its purity, we would need no image boxes to hold up the walls of our security.

I believe that I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience the magnitude of such a love, but I also know that its scale is irrelevant. In our own small ways, simply as human beings, we can appreciate each other for how we touch our lives and not how our different religions or last names define us.

Why should not the love we share be the last word in defining us instead of the last name? It doesn’t take a superstar to be able to give love, it just takes a heart and as far as I know, there isn’t a force on this earth that can deprive anyone of theirs.

I am a Khan, and that’s what it has meant being one, despite the stereotype images that surround me. To be a Khan has been to be loved and love back – that and the promise that virgins wait for me somewhere on the other side.

So basically, that’s why King Khan is King Khan and Venky Vembu is Venky Vembu.

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25 comments on “SRK & The Whole Firstpost Fiasco

  1. Oh thank you so much for writing this article Getfilmy.. I read a few lines of that Firstpost article and can’t stop saying to myself how much that journalist dislike Shah Rukh so much so there’s some kind of personal bashing going on.

    Again, thanks for taking your time to write this post :)

  2. good one dear…i really don’t understand how ANYONE can hate him…

  3. I agree with mostly all you’ve said, even though I really am not an Srk fan by any stretch of the imagination. That guy was clearly habouring some prejudices and came out sounding retarded.
    However, something that really riles me is how srk never lets this Muslim angle go. I understand the first few times he mentioned it but now I can see why some people think he’s wining, especially about his airport woes. Salman Khan said he went through the same multiple times but accepted it due to security & even added humour to it. Plus I get it might be hard being a Muslim in India today but how he constantly mentions it ends up as humiliating and infuriating for me as a Muslim. I don’t think he’s “biting the hand that fed him” at all but I wish he’d stop acting like someone is forcing him to accept Islam and all the agonies that come with it-this is more to do with other articles rather than the Firstpost thing.

    • m,

      Well people react differently to different things. Maybe SRK was oversensitive about the airport thing, maybe he was justified in speaking out about it. I don’t see why him talking about being Muslim should be so bothersome. One can’t deny that he’s been targeted on many occasions from both sides. What’s wrong with him presenting his side of the argument, which incidentally, is the only sane side there is? He speaks very lovingly of Islam and has a more mature understanding of the Koran than most of his detractors do.

  4. That firstpost article was so much utter nonsense, pretty much like everything firstpost publishes. It’s just a hallowed (for no reason) blog nothing else. The guy really comes off as an idiot!

  5. Get Filmy, there is much that I can and want to say in response to your post, but it threatened to turn into another (much longer!) blog post. :)

    So, rather than putting you through that, let me just say that I disagree markedly from your interpretation of both the Outlook essay and the First Post article. In any case, SRK has strong and powerful political backing, so there is no reason why he should feel unsafe, or worry about his children’s safety in India.

    But what I’ve realized in reading comments on this issue in various places is that this is not a matter for reasoned debate. People are going to believe what they want to (which I guess they do in most issues!). So let me stop with putting my dissent on the record and leave it at that.

    • mm,

      Well reasoned debate is what this blog is for so please feel free! :)

      I don’t think SRK said anything about feeling unsafe either for himself or for his children. Most of that paragraph about eviction orders and fatwas was written in a very tongue in cheek way. I think that’s part of the problem, many people take what he says more seriously than he ever intends them to.

      If he has strong political backing, he also has strong political opposition. I still don’t think any of that was the point of his article though.

  6. Thank you for this article…as always you have expressed my feelings on the whole saga exactly!

  7. Wow grt post. I thnk that was a really praiseworthy article and its sick how ppl are abusing it. He evn mentiond how he used to thnk tht every muslim wud be going through ths?. So its pretty clear he want a change in society and the way ppl thnk abt muslims in general.. Its even true how political leaders drag him unnecessaily. Ppl say him drama king and contreversy king bt instead u mentiond ri8 the journalists nd channels r getting famous just how in short time Mr venky got so famous. He says what he feels and is nt manupulative.. There were so sweet msgs in tht article which ppl cant see.. Moreover it was such a nice article of love. Ppl shud really knw real thngs nd stop assuming.

  8. I am so glad this post exists. I have many angry things to say about this awful “outrage” syndrom that breaks out every time a movie star has an informed opinion on something other than clothes or film awards, and about the Indian entertainment media’s flagrant disregard for research or any sort of journalistic integrity, but I am too mad to even type them out.
    And why should anybody stop talking about the challenges of being identified as Muslim? These challenges exist, and need to be addressed eloquently, and often, if change is to happen. It isn’t unpatriotic to point out that minorities or women or people from the Northeast face unique hurdles in Indian society, because they do. Pretending that everything is hunky-dory and one’s nation is a perfect place isn’t patriotic; it’s ignorant.

    • Sal –

      “And why should anybody stop talking about the challenges of being identified as Muslim?” EXACTLY. To me it’s kind of a parallel to the kind of racism that exists in the US where a certain section of Caucasians used to say “haven’t we apologized enough for the slavery/segregation thing?” whenever African-Americans brought up racism. And exactly how much racism still exists in this country has been heard loud and clear ever since Obama took office. A dialog needs to take place – preferably a sane one (though it never is sane, either in India or in America) because otherwise it continues to simmer beneath the surface and remain unresolved. I mean, there will probably never be final solutions but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try.

  9. I have read neither SRK’s piece nor VV’s. I’m certainly not an SRK fan. His writing/speech is too flower for my taste. But what I hate more than a superstar with average talents and looks is a nerd that thinks his pseudo-intellectual parasitic attention seeking needs to be read. Which is why i read you. :P

  10. WOW!!!! thank you Soooooo much for this article and coming out and supporting what is Right.
    That Venky Whatever has the nerve to talk about ‘milking’ when in reality it is HE and other hungry media types like him who constantly milk SRK to get free publicity. and his accusations were so FALSE. SRK never said anything bad about his fans or anything disrespectful about India and these Morons jump the gun. Malicious and hateful article by that Venky Vembu.
    Thanks again for supporting Shah Rukh King Khan.

  11. this one is nice.. venky vembu paagal hai

  12. Dear Getfilmy,
    Let me quote the article which Sharukh Khan wrote for the NY/Outlook collaboration

    “I am extremely muscular between my ears, I am often told by my kids, and I used to be fair too, but now I have a perpetual tan or as I like to call it ‘olive hue’ – though deep In the recesses of my armpits I can still find the remains of a fairer day. I am handsome under the right kind of light and I really do have a “distinctly large” nose. It announces my arrival in fact, peeking through the doorway just before I make my megastar entrance.”

    If I make the same statement to my kids, I will be rightly accused of being color-conscious, or in a different world, racist. Since, it defines for me,that, I view my world in a prism of color. The same statement shows the arrogance, which speaks out that,

    I’m the Khan. Your only duty is to bow to me. I deserve special privileges.As a matter of fact, when I travel abroad, if I have a stubble, I’m subjected to checking. Does Shahrukh khan really think, that his surname is the reason, why he is subjected to such criticism.

    Could it be because, from his familial background, there is a connection, with the ISI?


    Mark you, I dont say anything abt he being part of ISI. But, Intelligence and prevention works this way. Why should it hurt him personally?

    Even in that incident in the stadium, he broke a rule.He wanted his kids to play in the stadium,where, someone like MR. APJ Abdul Kalam, the most honourable man is not allowed.

    That guard might have insulted him. He might have used the Khan word. I respect this view, since, I believe Mr. Sharukh Khan is an honourable man. But you tell him,” Zameen main gad dunga” . C’mon. what does this mean.

    I dont comment on his flare-ups with the film industry. The setup is complicated.

    I used to be a big fan of Sharukh khan. He was a breath of fresh air in deewana, for a country, which needed “sifarish” for a job. His role in Darr, was me shouting out”I need to be heard”. His DDLJ taught me romance.I remember his statement about the 3H’s somewhere. I remember the most important one,” Humour” . Nowadays, there is no humour left in his life.

    WTF has happened to him? He always has an issue to create. He was a truly cosmopolitian actor. Today, he has become a hero for the extreme fringe and the rabble rousers.

    My sincere request to him. Stop talking to @bdutt . Get out of the politics of the country. I’m sure, you’ve heard abt the Radia tapes. Our environment gets poisoned by the company you keep.

    We still love you. Just dont get into this Hindu-muslim identity crisis thingie.

  13. blstringbarnacles,

    Have you ever been strip-searched at an airport? It doesn’t matter if your name is Khan or Johnson, it’s an unpleasant experience either way. And it would be naive to say that Muslim men aren’t pulled aside every day at airports for no other reason but their last name. I have many friends who are subjected to this. They all hate it. Shahrukh hates it. What’s the bloody difference other than that he is a star and when he talks about it, the media jumps all over it and the world reacts to it?

    Same goes for your argument in Wankhede. He’s human, he reacted, he apologized. So what? Because he’s a star he’s not allowed to be human? And I have never once heard of any incident where he says he “deserves special privileges” that is any more or less than what other stars need in the name of security and sanity.

    SRK does not create issues. The MEDIA creates issues and it’s about time people understand the difference. Why should he get out of the politics of the country? Why should he not talk about being Muslim? Like any citizen, he has every right to voice his opinion and criticize systems that do not work. Last I checked, India was a democracy and SRK is an Indian citizen.

    • Getfilmy, When I get stripsearched in airports, I dont enjoy it. But, why does Shahrukh Khan expect special treatment?

      You talk about being human, as saying that “Zameen main gad dunga” . C’mon.

      He is expecting special behaviour, because, he is a star. As I said, the day is not far, when, if he continues like this, the only fans he will have will be the ones who support Akbaruddin Owaisi’s speech here

      If you guys are his fans still, enjoy urself. Incidentally, Shahrukh khan never condemned the above speech. It is about being Indian, neither Hindu, nor Muslim.

  14. bstrngbrnacles,

    You are so way off target it’s not even worth arguing with you.

  15. this venky vembu is just an unemployed journalist who wanted attention and got it through SRK’s name ……..he did’nt even cared what SRK will think ….he just used his name for his sake…….@venky vembu ….abe pehle likhna seekh le dhang se…………………kabhi SRK ke tweets padha kar …tere se achhi english aati hai usse………tujhse high education hai………aur cricket team uss ne isliye kharidi bcoz he loves cricket and even played on state level…………..itna paisa koi sirf publicity ke liye to nhi udayega…har koi teri tarah unemployed and ch***ya thodi hai

  16. and for info of all of you…….about US airport detention…………media created things…added masala to what SRK said…and made everyone to believe that he said that he was stopped bcoz of his last name ……..and everyone believed…………go check…he clearly said in one of his interviews that ” They(us authorities) should be well informed about people they are searching for.. bcoz its not my mistake that there’s a terrorist around with same name as me”………………..yes there’s a wanted terrorist whose name is a bit similar like SRK’s……so he never said that his surname was the reason …..infact Sh. Lata Mangeshkar said that “maybe his surname was the reason”..she just said maybe and media created such fuss……..shame on them…

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