Saturday, April 1st, 2023 01:08:42

Needless Controversy Over Salman Khan’s Remark

Updated: July 14, 2016 1:12 pm

I am absolutely gobsmacked to see how such an innocuous remark by eminent actor Salman Khan has attracted so much of sound and fury especially from women organisations. I am not a diehard fan nor even an ordinary fan of Salman Khan, who excitedly watch his every movie. But yes, I respect not only Salman Khan but also his entire family including his father Salim Khan who are all diehard nationalists and whom every Indian should feel proud of. I have always noticed Salman Khan, his father Salim and his family celebrating Hindu festivals with full gusto just like any other Hindu, even though they are all practising Muslims!

It pains me more to see that even after Salman’s father apologised, still our media and women organisations are not satisfied and they want Salman himself to tender an apology! Salman, it must be noted, immediately after saying that the shooting of wrestling bouts was so gruelling that he felt like a “raped woman”, while he would walk out of the ring after the shot, realised his mistake and acknowledged that he should not have said so. The matter should have ended there.

But alas, that was not to be! Media especially some news channels, which till now keep discussing this only, went full hog in blowing this needless issue into a full-fledged controversy. Taking suo motu cognizance of Salman’s remark, which they term “irresponsible and callous”, the National Commission for Women (NCW) shot off a letter to the actor seeking his explanation in seven days and warning him that he would be summoned before the Commission if he failed to provide a satisfactory explanation. One has always seen Salman along with his family celebrating the festivals of Navratri, which is dedicated to the Goddess, who is a symbol of women power. How can he even dream of showing disrespect to women? Never can he nor can anyone in his family even dream so. Why is NCW running after him so badly, in particular?

I very strongly feel in my personal capacity to which I am fully entitled that, “A mountain is being made out of what is not even a mole”. I am not favouring Salman because he is a very famous actor. I am favouring him because I am fully aware of the impeccable credentials which he and his entire family from generation to generation have enjoyed, are enjoying and shall always enjoy. There is not a single Hindu festival of eminence that I have not seen him celebrating along with his family. Still, he is being targeted. It is pathetic.

Let me recall what Salman had said after a gruelling shoot of a wrestling bout for his forthcoming film Sultan. He said, “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.”

However, moments later, the actor appeared to regret his statement. “I don’t think I should have…,” he said. It was rightly pointed out in an English news channel that as many as 30-40 journalists laughed when he had said the controversial statement. Why are those journalists, who were laughing, not being asked to give an explanation? Why Salman alone? NCW can’t cherry-pick only whom it wants and spare those who were laughing shamelessly at what he said! Why was no action taken against a women member of a Women Commission, who said there is nothing wrong in calling women “sexy”? Why was no action taken when member of a Women Commission takes a selfie with a rape victim? Why was no action taken against a women member of Women Commission in Maharashtra when she blamed women for wearing provocative clothes and asked them to desist from doing so? Such instances are innumerable but media never bothers.

Salim Khan, who is Salman’s father, said in a series of tweets that “Undoubtedly what Salman said is wrong, the simili (sic), example and the context. The intention was not wrong. Nevertheless, I apologise on behalf of his family, his fans and friends. Forgiveness is to pardon the unpardonable or it is no virtue at all. To err is human, to forgive divine. Today on Int’l Yoga Day, let’s not run our shops on this mistake.” In the last line, what Salim Khan had said is most important, which media especially news channels tend to ignore. This small error should not be made subject of discussion on primetime in various news channels, as we have seen actually how relatives of rape victims are called and asked to give their first reaction on Salman’s view on rape.

Did Salman justify rape? Did Salman blame women for rape as many times women, who are members of Women’s Commission do and many politicians do? No. Did Salman made a mockery of Nirbhaya or any other rape women? No. Then, why is he alone being selectively targeted by a large section of the media? They must explain. If Salman does something wrong, he must face the consequences, but you cannot get after him just because he compares his condition with that of a raped women and that too after a lot of non-stop shooting and lifting so heavy persons that people like me can’t even dream of lifting and that too again and again!

Noted filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who again enjoys an impeccable reputation, very rightly pointed out that the actor’s remark had been “misrepresented”. He further said, “I know he respects women like anything. It is a very disgusting translation by someone. He just said one thing that it is a human agony he went through. The deepest human agony is when a woman is raped. He was talking about a metaphor…He is just a child and I know he respects women like anything.” It is most hurting to see that instead of discussing real issues directly affecting women like the brutal murder of a working women in Chennai–Swathi–and whose murderer is still at large and total apathy of the people watching such crimes and doing nothing to help them, a non-issue is being blown out of proportion and media too is only adding fuel to the fire.

Why is Salman Khan, our brand ambassador in Rio Olympics, due to begin shortly, is being targeted? It is because he and his family enjoy impeccable reputation and the whole nation is proud of them. Why is action against politicians like a leader of Trinamool, who before recent Assembly elections said that if his party was not elected to power, he along with his men would rape women of families not voting for his party, not taken? Such instances, where politicians make all sorts of provocative statements even blaming women for rape, are galore, yet NCW does not issue summons against them also.

On a personal note, I worship Ma Kali more like my mother and always chant the holy name of Ma Durga, Ma Gauri and other Goddesses in Hindu mythology. I have always advocated punishment even for marital rape as even husband has no right to rape his wife and my article on it was even published in October 2015 issue of Women’s Era and I received many congratulations from many women from all across India. My articles in favour of women have also been published in various law journals. I have always advocated zero tolerance for heinous crimes like rape and had even raised my voice in various articles published in various law journals that even Judge should not be given the power to reduce the minimum sentence under any circumstances, which most unfortunately had been given till 2013 before the law was amended after the Nirbhaya gang rape incident. I will not be even the last person to justify rape or give any comment on rape under any condition but I have closely read what Salman had said and I know the family bio-data of his entire family and they are the “best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity”, for which all Indians should feel proud of. Hence, the earlier this needless controversy is buried the better it shall be.

(The writer is Senior Advocate in Meerut.)

by Sanjeev Sirohi    

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