YOU KNOW I HAD TO.
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.