Bollywood actor Salman Khan on Thursday skipped personal appearance for the third time before the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW), but sent a letter to the panel in response to the summons issued to him over his ‘rape’ remarks.
Khan had recently landed himself in controversy for his statement that he felt like a “raped woman” after the gruelling shoot for his film “Sultan”, in which he plays a wrestler. He was asked to come for hearing on two previous occasions, but did not turn up. Subsequently, he was asked appear before the commission on Thursday.
Hindustan Times spoke to noted author Rachel Dwyer, a professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS, University of London, for her reaction on the superstar’s controversial statement.
Controversy and Salman Khan go together. He is always going to do something controversial and his fans are always going to support him. His father apologised for him, bolstering his image of a naïve and innocent person who is good at heart. It is odd because Salman is a 50-year-old man, so why does he need his father to apologise for him? In a way, it is also reinforcing patriarchy because it seems to suggest that if the head of the family has apologised, that should be enough. There is no need for Salman to do so.
Why he came up with the remark, the very phrasing, is also odd. Why compare wrestling with sex? Why make a feminine association with it? Also, he said he felt like a “raped woman.” Why did he single out women? Men get raped too.
There’s no point asking for an apology from Salman. He never apologises. It’s like Kate Moss, the model, in the UK -- she seems to have a “never explain” policy. It has been said that his remarks “were taken out of context”. But what was the context?
Salman’s fans will always support him. Most of them are male and they believe that Salman is a very moral person who is good to his family, good to his fans, who does a lot of good work and charity. According to them, all this controversy is manufactured. Some people don’t realise how damaging his words are.
I would say the remark itself was wrong. Of course Salman is not the only person to think like that. It is terrible that anybody would think like this. But that [controversy] is what happens when a celebrity does it. It is undeniable that celebrities have power. Whether Salman wants it or not, he has it.
Though I’m not entirely sure what the Maharashtra State Commission for Women hoped to achieve by asking him to apologise. Today, in the UK, it has become a crime to say something misogynistic. But it’s not yet a crime in India.
Rachel Dwyer, a professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS, University of London, has written several books on Bollywood. Views expressed are personal.