Aamir Khan is no stranger to the controversy. For the ordinary earthlings not familiar with the czar of Bollywood, he is an iconic actor and a film maker who derives reverence from all and sundry, not just in the reel life but also in real life. His projects portray a deep sense of social responsibility and commitment to the idea of India and he is a true role model for millions and millions of South Asians, worldwide. Alas, just to add in the context of today’ heated times, Aamir is also a Muslim and married to a Hindu lady. Married? Yes, you read it right. Married.
So one fine day, Aamir saw his dear wife browsing news papers, surfing the channels and feeling worked up about what was going on in India. Like most of us, even she got sick of reading and hearing about various acts of violence, of hatred and religious extremism being directed towards each other in a country like India which has always taken pride in being a symbol of acceptance and love, of being a land of ‘Kama’ and its ‘Sutra’.
Guess what, this happens to all of us and we share our concerns with each other and on social media. Only Aamir being a celebrity, his each and every word is dissected and is turned into headlines by media which continuously feeds on sensationalism and hype.
While expressing his despondency and depression at the direction our society was taking, at why the situation was becoming worse as justice seemed to be eluding and the leadership seemed to be in a state of inaction, Aamir mentioned what his wife had told him and how she was worried about her child and even pondered about moving out of India!
All hell broke loose! It did not matter that his entire interview is a true state of reflection on what is happening in India and portrays his immense love for India. What mattered was the selective editing carried out by media and these words became latest media sensation.
Currently Aamir bashing is the new in-thing in India.
“He is tarnishing the image of India today.” As if the image improves when a man is killed in the name of protecting a cow by some fanatic Hindus or when a Fatwa is issued against a popular singer just because he participated in an unacceptable project to some fanatic Muslims!
” He should watch his words and know what he speaks as he is a celebrity.” While the politicians, the religious leaders and the hate mongers who actually spew venom in the society at all times and do this with a specific purpose of ruling over the cattle class can continue with their acts unhindered since they have the political or the social right to destroy societies.
” If he lived in Pakistan he could have been hanged for being so intolerant towards intolerance.” As if we actually feel disappointed in being an Indian and wish to make a failed state as Pakistan our role model than looking up to nations where people are allowed to express their differences and yet would not hope to get their face painted black or beaten blue, sometimes to death.
There is no doubt in my mind that Indians are tolerant by nature. But these are times when tolerance is being made out to be a slur in India. India seems to shift its loyalties from Gandhi to Godse, from Akbar to Owaisi, from Thackersey to Thackeray.
Tolerance is about allowing people to speak out their concerns even if they are in difference to ours. Simple. Nothing more, nothing less. In simple terms it is about accepting that there exists two sides to a coin and that not everything needs to be converted into “‘us” and “them”.
The most beautiful example to showcase an act of intolerance and its after effects comes from Bhagwad Gita itself and you do not need to read the whole Gita to understand its message, as just the first “Shloka” would suffice-
“Dharmakshetre kurukshetre samveta yuyutsavah,
Mamakah pandavascaiva kimakurvata sanjaya.”
“On the holy (Dharma) plains, the field of righteousness, the field of the Kurus, gathered together, eager for battle, what did they do, Oh Sanjay, my people and the sons of Pandu?”
Look at the irony, a blind King, who has no sense of justice or righteousness, talks about “His” ancestral fields being the symbol of Dharma, asks Sanjay, the narrator who brings him news from the battle field about what, eager for battle, “His” people and “They” did?
And who are these “They”? His own real brother’s children, his own loving family!
The true cause of Mahabharata, the war that destroyed India’s heritage was this- the perceptions of “US” and “THEM” and the blind eye that justice turned towards setting the house in order or to stop the raging battle inside!
Alas “history repeats itself twice, once as a tragedy and second as a farce.” In India’s case, it is far too many. Let us, please stop creating battle fields over everything and give reason a chance.
It’s time we allow Aamir or any other fellow Indian to express his grievance and listen to it than react and take it as aimed against our false sense of national or religious pride. It’s time we see through the games of media and politicians and bring an end to sensationalism and divisions.
As for Aamir, I would quote from what you said when you claimed Saint hood while commenting on your fellow actors who took part in an interesting roast event- ” I completely believe in freedom of speech, no issues. But we have to understand that we all have a certain responsibility.” Guess what, it applies to you too! It’s time you leave your “concerns at home”, at home, when you come out to express yourself as “The” Aamir Khan. India is still tolerant and perhaps that is why it is hurting people more. And you know that too as you can see how many voices speak on your behalf even today!
As for wives and their fears, I also get depressed and despondent when my wife shouts at me or tells me do certain things. But I bow my head, hear her silently, freely use my both ears while taking it in from one side and throwing it out of another and then merrily, drown her sorrows over the next glass of my favorite poison while continuing to think and act for myself!
India is changing and if you have the power to influence, please continue to be the leading catalyst for change that you are! That is the least you could do, if not for us than for a nation that has given you so much back or for your child, whom, in the memory of one of your ancestor, a great man and a true patriot, Maulana Abul Kalam, you proudly named Azad!
Cheers man! And enjoy Aamir and please let him enjoy India! As for people like me, bring on something better media, but please make it humorous this time!
Posted in Times of India- November 25th 2015. Link below-