He's been everyone's favourite star since Taare Zameen Par hit the bull's eye. But when actor Aamir Khan made an appearance at the third Jaipur Literature Festival recently, there were quite a few raised eyebrows.
Reason? His comment on the media's way of functioning. Khan remarked, "All news channels should be called entertainment channels." This comment from the entertainment industry's blue-eyed boy has left many disappointed.
Mita Kapur, director of Siyaahi Literary Agency, former festival director says, "I think TV channels have a lot of gravitas. It was certainly not an appropriate comment to make, especially since he is from the entertainment industry."
Putting across the point rather succinctly, author Kunal Basu of The Japanese Wife, says, "Bollywood is everywhere. Undoubtedly, the level of interaction with Bollywood has increased in the last few years. But news channels are doing a lot to give this festival a much-needed boost."
Other side of the coin
While there have been strong reactions to the actor's comment, there have been some who agree with Khan's view.
Designer Ritu Kumar points out, "When Aamir speaks on an issue like Narmada, it becomes news. It's a matter of perspective."
Publisher Urwashi Butalia of Zubaan Books echoes the same thought. According to her, the entertainment factor is much more in television today. "But significant TV channels are doing a fine job too," she adds.
Delegates including author Indra Sinha, filmmaker Aparna Sen and festival director Namita Gokhale gave Khan's session a miss.
Gokhale's absence did not come as surprise as she was never in favour of the presence of Bollywood stars at the festival.
"The reason is very simple," she explains, "their presence takes the focus away from literature."
Malayali poet K Satchidanandan feels that star power makes sense only if they discuss books or literature. However, managing trustee of Jaipur Virasat Festival, Mahaveer Sharma defends the Bollywood participation saying, "Stars add value to the festival and draw huge crowds."
This may be true. But as expected, Khan's session was all about Taare Zameen Par and Rang De Basanti.