Before questioning Salman Khan about speaking to Pakistani news channel Express 24/7, since they have blocked Indian channels, the Shiv Sena should first ask why Veena Malik is to participate in “Bigg Boss” or Wasim Akram and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan can judge reality shows. This is not the main argument against Salman. As we have not had any major attacks since then, we are stuck on 26/11. He said what some of us wrote about right then about the hype “because elite people were targeted. Attacks have happened in trains and small towns too, but no one talked about it so much”.
He is right. He went wrong when he exonerated the Pakistani government, adding: “Our security had failed. We have had a lot of attacks earlier, and all of them were not from Pakistan. They were from within also.”
The security issue has been discussed in the Indian media and a PIL (public interest litigation) was filed by the Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare’s widow. Salman should not have said what he did because he is not qualified. However, does this make him anti-national? We have had political leaders who hobnob with unsavoury characters who look the other way while people create fissures within the country. More importantly, why are only the Khans asked about these terrorist attacks? I would like to get the opinion of Akshay Kumar or Aishwariya Rai on this issue. Besides, do these actors represent the Indian Muslim population?
Curiously, the moral police did not object when Nandita Das took her debut movie, Firaq, on the Gujarat riots, to the Kara Film Festival where it received the best film award. Yet she stated, quite unnecessarily: “People were saying that the Indian media has been attacking Pakistan and making sweeping statements that were unfair. They don’t sympathise with Kasab at all. They called him a Kasai.’’ Did she not expose chinks in our armour and act as unsolicited diplomatic courier?
Those asking Salman to apologise were mum when Adnan Sami contacted top Pakistani leaders over threats received regarding his marital issues. He said it was to ensure that the wrong people were not accused. Had there been a serious attempt on his life, on what grounds could the government of his country of origin point fingers at India?
Even parties like the Shiv Sena that demand “outsiders” like Biharis and UPites should be thrown out of the city treat these celebrities with kid gloves. It is about protecting commercial interests.
Veena Malik is already throwing attitude that the other 12 contestants be selected carefully, “so that they are up to my level”. Unfortunately, the channel as well as the media, and by default many viewers, will be taken in by the buildup and assume this human laundromat is important. Singer-actor Ali Zafar reveals professional selfishness when he talks about moving to India for better prospects: “My first home is Lahore. But I’d like to make Mumbai my second home … I feel singers and other artistes should be exempt from politics.”
The hostility that he finds unbearable affects him precious little in the studios where he can record for Bollywood films. Has he seen the pain of those faced with jingoistic revulsion only due to their nationality on both sides of the border?
Salman Khan may get away with a temporary ban on Dabanng that will up its value and make him a ‘munna ho gaya badnam’-level martyr. Others are not as lucky. And a note for Ali Zafar: Forget a second home, many do not have even one home in our countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2010.