Thursday, December 8th, 2022 20:53:01

Controversy’s Favourite Child

Updated: July 14, 2016 2:16 pm

Salman Khan is an actor with a huge fan following. He is one such actor who guarantees box office success to any film that he stars in, thanks to his popularity! But the actor is also famous for staying in headlines, for many wrong reasons too. The actor courts controversies. Starting from the animal poaching case back in 1998, he has come a long way, but controversies have been his constant companion. Often called ‘Bhai’ by his fans across the globe he has acted in more than 80 Bollywood films, is known for his romantic roles as well as action films and has won several prestigious Indian cinema awards. Khan is one of the few Bollywood stars who has a huge fan following not only across the vast spectrum of Indian panorama but also world over. His fans not only include the middle-class English-speaking audiences but also poor slum-dwellers for whom the 350-rupee ticket does not come cheap. His films are released to coincide with major festivals like Eid and are screened in thousands of theatres, which are in general remain packed for days. Every time Khan romances his heroines on screen, his fans respond with approval; loud whistles fill the theatre when he shows his dance moves; and resounding claps encourage him whenever he beats up the “baddies”.

It is this fan base that gives him the courage to remain in controversies all these years and overcome every accusation with flying colours. He has been controversy’s favourite child all these years. While the hit-and-run incident has dragged on for nearly 13 years, Khan’s fan base has remained loyal — in fact, it has kept growing steadily and the hits have kept coming.

Several of his latest films — Dabangg, Dabangg2, Ready, Ek Tha Tiger, Bodyguard, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo — have been huge blockbusters. The eldest of the three sons of well-known screenplay writer Salim Khan, he is a hit on social media too – his Facebook page is liked by 30 million fans while on Twitter, his followers count goes up to 18.4 million.

For the past few years, he has worked very hard towards shedding his ‘bad boy’ image with some success. His reputation of going out of his way to help needy people whether known or stranger and his devotion towards his family has somewhat created positive aura towards him. Recently he started a charity to help the poor through education and healthcare under the name Being Human. The proceeds by the sale of T-shirts and other products by the charity are used for the charitable work.


Bhaijaan is always in the news, but many times it’s for all the wrong reasons. Over the years he has developed a reputation of being controversy’s favourite child in the industry. He reiterated that image recently after stoking another row with his statement that he “felt like a raped woman” during Sultan’s shooting. This statement raised a public and media storm with public and authorities both upset. The 50-year-old star, made the comments during an interview with an entertainment website to promote his latest film ‘Sultan’, said, “When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight.” Indian media went uproar over the issue. “While shooting, during those six hours, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That was tough for me because if I was lifting, I’d have to lift the same 120-kilo guy 10 times for 10 different angles. And likewise, get thrown that many times on the ground. This act is not repeated that many times in the real fights in the ring. When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman. I couldn’t walk straight,” Salman told, an entertainment website, while Salman’s father Salim Khan apologised on behalf of the actor right after social media erupted, and brother Arbaaz Khan pointed out that Salman’s intentions weren’t wrong, an apology from Salman is still awaited. Responding to the query over the issue Sandeep Mahapatra, Advocate, Supreme Court, said: “Salman’s remarks is definitely in bad taste and demeans women, but in today’s time people go to any extent to get unpaid publicity. However, Indian celebrities have an uncanny knack to create controversies soon before any movie release. The fact that such comments get traction in all media and more so in social media has made these celebrities issuing such comments. The motto seems to be good or bad any publicity is welcome.” He might be right to some extent as we have seen earlier too, whenever a movie of Aamir or Shah Rukh Khan is slated for release, some controversy erupts and fizzles out after serving its intended purpose; the movie becomes a major hit.

In the same vein Amitabh Sinha, also an Advocate at Supreme Court, laments the fact that “Salman’s remarks may does not merit legal issue but the statement is unethical to be made. He is a celebrity that’s why he became an easy prey for the 24X7 media and public. He should have avoided this situation and should promptly have issued an apology. Certainly not issuing an apology is a media gimmick. His film is being released and it seems he wants this issue to remain alive to further his interests.”

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women (NCW) demanded an apology within seven days from Salman Khan. While Salman has replied to the notice given to him by the NCW, The National Commission for Women said Bollywood actor Salman Khan had not apologised for his snide remarks and added that the body was studying a reply sent by Khan’s lawyer. “Salman Khan’s legal counsel has written to us. All I can say at the moment after going through the letter is that it is not conciliatory. He (Salman) has not apologised. It’s a four-page, very legal sounding explanation that he has given,” NCW chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said while speaking to Hindustan Times. She further said that there has to be deterrence in the form of stringent action so that public figures think twice before making loose comment on women. “I believe that some kind of a stringent action is required to send the message that people, especially those in public life, can’t get away easily after making such comments.”

Here one question arises: Is the women’s body targeting Salman just because he is a superstar?  Because one thing is very clear here that immediately after making the remark, Salman realised what he had said and felt apologetic about it, as can be heard in the audio of the interview available on various websites. But the TRP hungry media muted the real version and hangered upon the ‘raped women’ part only and created an unnecessary furore. Anurag Kashyap, director rightly commented, when asked about his response on Salman remarks. Seemingly at the risk of sounding like he was defending Salman even though he called Salman’s remark “thoughtless” and “daft”, he pointed out one very important anomaly on the part of journalists present at the interview. If one listens to the audio of the interview, one can listen journalists laughing at Salman’s guffaw and Anurag Kashyap asks one important question, why did no journo at the event ask a follow-up?  One can assume that those journalists who did not ask that questions were subsumed by the craving for the headlines his remark would offer, and that they were thinking of their own careers being made instead of doing their job, which is asking tough questions.

Let’s throw some light on Salman’s top 10 controversies


The Salman-Subhash Ghai spat

A lanky hero then, Salman entered Bollywood through a brief and a low on impact Biwi Ho Toh Aisi, but it was Maine Pyaar Kiya that catapulted this young hero to super stardom. But it was then famous and in control Subhash Ghai who passed a snide remark at Salman that lead to the entire furor. Salman reportedly gate crashed in to Ghai’s party and subsequently got into a fist fight with the veteran film maker then. But with Salman’s father Salim Khan’s intervention, things have bettered off now.


The ugly Salman-Saroj Khan feud

One feud that never got solved till date is this one. Salman, the superstar today had reprimanded dancing queen Saroj Khan for putting in added importance to Aamir Khan’s steps, giving him a better audience appeal while he was left with some nonsensical maneuvers, especially in the ‘Yeh Raat Aur Yeh Doori’ number fromAndaz Apna Apna. Now that the talks of the sequel to this buddy romcom are rife, one wonders if Salman would ever let Sarojji make him move and dance to her beats.


The love-gone-wrong saga of Salman-Aishwarya

They met and they sang, Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam to each other instantly but they were unaware of the series of happenings that were about to unfold.Aishwarya Rai’s attitude and self esteem and Salman’s foul wrath cut short of their longevity to be together. While Salman’s love turned towards obsession, with threatening calls, door bamming and severe psychological mood shifts, Aishwarys issued a press statement stating that their relationship was more than over and was the cause of Salman’s defamation. Reports of harassment and repeated hounding also followed!

The Somy Ali mishap

Salman had always been a loverboy since he was in his teens. Crushes, infatuations and girlfriends galore, this handsome pathan was always in news for his alleged linkups. While he broke Sangeeta Bijlani’s heart to move over to Somy Ali, it was Fate that caused them to drift apart yet again. But one can never forget the entire rumour-being-blown-out-of-proportion of Salman emptying a Cola bottle on Somy’s head.


The boisterous comments against Hrithik-Aishwarya’s ‘Guzaarish’

The harshness against Aishwarya was always palpable as Salman avoided even a chance encounter with the lady. While blatantly refusing the Guzaarish team the permission of promoting their film on the Bigg Boss stage was pre-ponderous, Salman passed some really disrespectful comments about the film, after its release. The disparaging remark not only soured his relationships with his favourite Sanjay Leela Bhansali but also hurt the sentiments of the otherwise silent Hrithik Roshan who took off to Twitter to voice his opinions.


The Vivek Oberoi-Salman Khan public brawl

Madly in love duo Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya were going strong together until the Salman tornado hit their love affair to cause ransack. Vivek immediately called a prèss conference making it a point to delve into each detail of his conversation and rift with Salman Khan. From a murder threatening to the alleged 41 calls, Vivek laid it all in public and Salman has maintained distance from the Company starlet since. While Salman’s career took over to a mammoth magnitude, Vivek, who had enormous potential, sank without a trace.


The 2002 Hit-and- Run Case

A heavy alcoholic Salman drove his car past into a bakery, taking the life of a pavement dweller and injuring three others. A strong case of culpable homicide and illicit driving was issued against him but was later removed. Even till date he faces the angst of the case and is yet to be exonerated from the same.


The Shah Rukh- Salman altercation

Five years back, it was Katrina Kaif’s birthday that stormed the media nationwide with a wide eyed coverage of two totally drunk celebrities who let it all out at the party. Boasting of two big names, two idlosed public figures, things could never be the same between the once-upon-a-time friends Salman and Shah Rukh Khan. Though both stars have been tight lipped regarding the cause of the fight, it was reported that a snorting remark on Aish by SRK fueled up the entire scenario, with Salman and Shah Rukh being at loggerheads ever since.

The Chinkara Poaching Case

The blackbuck shadow that gnaws him till date has been one of the major lows in Salman’s prolific career. Under a fit of merry making, Salman Khan shot a Chinkara, one of the most endangered species while shooting for Hum Saath Saath Hai in Rajasthan. The hunting expedition led to several criminal cases being lodged against the mega star and he is still busy taking rounds of court proceedings even ten years after the case was filed. He was also convicted to the Jodhpur jail under a two year sentence but was granted bail later.

Salman’s public comments to Pakistani channel

After the much talked about and hyped 26/11 attacks, unabashedly munh-phat Salman while giving an interview to a Pakistani channel had made some nasty statements questioning the national authorities on the footage and importance given to the elite affected during the mishap at the Taj, Mumbai while the attacks in the buses and trains were neglected. Salman also went on to advocate that Pakistan was not to be blamed for the entire happening which drew a lot of criticism and condemnation from our national leading groups, hurting religious sentiments at large. Later Salman quickly retorted with an apology.


Trivialisation of Rape

The Salman issue has the potential to trivialise the issue of rape in the country. The statistics available on National Crime Records Bureau’s website shows that there has been 9.2 per cent rise in rape cases from 2013 to 2014. A total of 36,735 rape cases were reported in 2014. The shocking figures are a clear indication of the ever deteriorating plight of women in this country. Even after this, what a member of the Rajasthan Women Commission did was unpardonable. An image of a member of Rajasthan State Commission for Women clicking selfies with a rape victim has gone viral on social media.

The image shows Somya Gurjar, a member of the state’s women’s commission, clicking a selfie while the chairperson, Suman Sharma is also looking into the frame. The uproar over social media has led to the chairperson to seek a written response from Gurjar.

“I was talking to the victim when the member of the commission clicked these selfies. I am not aware when she (Somya Gurjar) clicked. I do not favour such act and has sought a written explanation from her. She has been asked to submit the explanation,” Sharma told the news agencies. Both the officials had apparently gone to meet the victim at the Mahila police station. The victim is a 30-year-old woman from Alwar who was allegedly raped by her husband and two brothers-in-law. The husband and his brothers have tattooed expletives on her arm and forehead for not giving Rs 51,000 as dowry. The member later on submitted her resignation over the issue.

 As the social media erupted in rage in the wake of Salman’s comment leading to the National Commission of Women summoning Salman over the same, the issue of rape culture and trivialisation of rape has once again taken the centre stage. Although an apology from Salman is still awaited, the latest selfie controversy gives a fresh twist to how rape and rape victims are literally used and abused for personal point-scoring, taking home moral brownie points, and now, even more shamefully, being reduced to a mere prop for self-indulgence.

It all started with Abhijeet Mukherjee calling women ‘dented and painted’ figures on national television. Then Mulayam Singh Yadav again ranted in the same tone. He tried to earn brownie points from the male folk by stating that rapes are minor mistakes committed by boys, because boys will be boys! Later on Abu Azmi compounded the misery by stating that women involved in rapes should be hanged as well.  The winner in this category would be Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal, who openly threatened to send his men to rape women of the opposition party in case of any untoward incident.

When these leaders can go scot free even after making such dastardly comments then why is media making mountain out of a molehill with regard to Salman’s statement is a question that everybody must ask. These leaders are our policymakers and when they make such an insensitive remarks it affects the whole gamut of our society. So instead of making Salman a |scapegoat, one must understand the metaphor against what backdrop it has been used.

by Nilabh Krishna

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