Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Good, The Bad and The Choice

I often wonder what it would feel like to be a celebrity -  to know that any act, small or big, in your personal life can spark debates on TV channels and hashtags on social media, to know that there are millions of people who try to emulate you, and who are willing to lay down their life for you. What actually makes it overwhelming is the fact that these millions don't know you personally, and you haven't met, heard or seen anyone of them (at lease consciously). It is power of its own kind, and I can imagine it is easy to be drunk with this power. Today's blog is about one such celebrity, who hogged the limelight and headlines last week. Pretty obvious, the Bhai of Bollywood.

Let me clarify at the outset that this blog is not a reaction to Bombay High Court's suspension of Salman's sentence in the Hit-and-Run case, and neither is this a character assassination of Salman Khan. A lot has already been written and I really don't care if he is an angel from heaven or devil incarnate, he still makes terrible movies. This blog is slightly inspired by the plethora of reactions generated by #SalmanVerdict and the utter pointlessness of them.

First off, my response to his ardent fans : Refer to my first paragraph, and realize that since you don't know him personally, any attempt to defend him, that is not supported by hard facts, is illogical. Sure, he might be big on charities, but you really don't know where the proceeds for that charity come from. And if he is so generous of heart, he doesn't need to publicize it (remember the saying : Neki kar dariya mein daal). And true, the story of how he adopted a young girl from the streets and raised her well and gave her a big bang wedding is moving, it still doesn't compensate for taking somebody else's life due to sheer irresponsibility. Oh, and for those who say that him entertaining and inspiring so many people with his films is charity in itself (yes, this argument was made - I am glad we don't have a jury system), it would have made sense if he hadn't been paid for it. And the "Tere Naam" hairstyle is probably the worst thing he ever inflicted on the masses, in my humble opinion.

Now, my take on the reactions from his Bollywood buddies: I kind of get it, you know. Think about it yourself, you know someone, you work with them, share a good rapport with them, and then they get caught for doing something illegal, you don't start hating them altogether, and don't rejoice at them being caught, at least not openly. You either stand by them, or reserve your comments (a luxury most Bolly celebs don't avail). It's just human nature. And let's not forget that Salman is one of the most powerful people in Bollywood. A lot of the young actors who supported him on social media owe their filmy career to him. He has been responsible for the careers of a certain Superman, a certain Fukra, a certain Shona, and also the career (or lack thereof) of a certain ex-boyfriend of a certain ex-girlfriend. So they are not going to point a finger at him. Probably the only young celeb who kind of hinted that he may have been in the wrong, is the daughter of a Bollywood veteran known to speak his mind, and so she has strong backing of her own and can say it. We'll see what she says if a celebrated director-cum-showhost gets in trouble. The reactions of these celebs are results of the relationships in Bollywood, and one can't really judge them.

The reactions that you CAN judge, are by a popular singer and a socialite. They suggested that the poor people who got harmed by Salman's car should not have slept on the footpath. And this is the point where the actual issue at hand comes up: CHOICE. Those people injured and killed by Salman's car did not have any other choice but sleep at the footpath. Had they had one, I am pretty sure they won't have slept there. Salman, on the other hand, had the choice to 1. Not drive when he is that drunk, 2. Not run away from his blunder.

You see, this case is not about whether Salman is a good guy or a bad guy. The case is about the choices he made, and their consequences - for the poor chap who died on the street under his car, and for the rich spoiled brat who was driving it. This case is about driving under influence, and hitting and running. A wealthy man like himself could have called a driver (it may not have been as thrilling as driving when you have the rush of alcohol, but it won't have cost someone their life). Even if he did what the Court says he did, he could have taken that man to the hospital, or at least not let his poor driver take the blame some thirteen years later. Life would have been easier for him that way, not that it is too difficult now. Sure, Salman must have transformed from the drunk, animal hunting, girlfriend beating brat he allegedly was, to a man with the heart of gold - but the choices he made stick, with him and with the people he hurt. And everyone should face the music. Whether or not the system delivers is a different story altogether. 

My last word is to all those responsible citizens of the country who rejoiced when he was convicted and were appalled when he got the bail: Don't make the same mistakes he made. Otherwise you lose the right to self-righteousness. Next time you go to a pub, and have had a little too much to drink, make the right choice and call a cab. Don't drink and drive.