Here’s why Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh retracted statements on intolerance

  • Jyoti Sharma Bawa, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 27, 2016 15:01 IST
My Name is Khan and I am afraid to share my thoughts: Did an intolerant India force both Shah Rukh and Aamir to eat their words and retract comments?

Ask us what we are wearing at the next award function. Question us about how we made those six-pack abs, or eight-packs as the case may be. We will even answer why Bollywood films don’t make to Oscars.

But don’t, just please don’t, ask us about intolerance, or eating beef in India, or anything which is even remotely political. For that makes us issue statements which are true reflection of our personal beliefs.

Read: Being tolerant? Twitterati slams Aamir Khan, wants to protest Dangal

Our statements are then linked to approaching polls, or polls that just went by. They then take our posters and give them a good thrashing in the streets. They sometimes blacken our faces on the posters, or both. The more inventive ones order our effigies and set them afire.

Protests against Aamir Khan after his comments on intolerance. (PTI)

They hold protests which may attract five people but will get the attention of millions when broadcast on national television. Fringe political leaders start offering us one-way tickets to countries which regularly make to world’s top 10 least travelled countries.

Read: My comments on intolerance affected Dilwale collections, says Shah Rukh Khan

Do they wait to consider that we are as much of Indians as they are? The fact is as important to them as written and bound scripts in Bollywood.

Telling them My name is Khan and I am an Indian will hardly cut any ice. We take a deep breath and sing under our breath, ‘Haters gonna hate’.

But then they start hitting us where it hurts the most. They picket our films and attack the theatres showing them. They attack brands we endorse and they take our face away from campaigns for we are not incredible enough anymore.

Read: Shah Rukh retracts comments on intolerance

We can take criticism; we cannot take box office losses. We may be the stars of the film but it is a team effort of everyone from director, scriptwriter, cameraman, crew, extras… everyone. When a film is affected, it hits everybody.

The tag of being anti-national is even harder to digest.

They also remind us that any country which made PK and My Name is Khan superhits cannot be intolerant. That makes us wonder about the cases filed against the film or the protests; you think that was the doing of aliens?

Read: Aamir Khan no longer the face of Incredible India campaign

And by aliens we mean nude men and little green beings. We don’t mean people from across the border – either legal or illegal -- we have no views on them.

In the meanwhile, Dilwale is taking bigger losses than its weak script and terrible direction will justify. After all, this is the country that made Happy New Year and Bodyguard superhits.

All this makes us tie ourselves in knots. We start by saying that India is intolerant and we follow it up with an explainer of why we said what we said. Then we say we never said it.

Since the vitriol is still flowing, we blame it all on media – everybody’s favourite flogging horse (very shrewd move that, a lot like politicians. We are learning all the time). We also say that we respect the people and every single gaali that they gave us (social media is very judgmental; you got to keep social media happy).

It has got so convoluted by this time that Baba Ramdev would have trouble to get into this position. Even we are not sure what we said, why we said it and do we still mean it.

At that point, we start talking about our films, and films alone. Unfortunately, that’s what the judge and jury on Twitter is doing too – they are calling it #BoycottDangal.

So, here it is one more time: I am 50, I am a well respected star of my country with millions of followers but I will only talk about my work, my diet, my clothes, my next item number, my next 20-year-old heroine, my house, my car…

And political issues, you ask? Let us leave that to the politicians, they are doing such a good job of it in #IndiaSoTolerant.

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