If I read, one more hyper-articulate article naming Pathaan as the definitive film of the millennium, that has struck a blow on behalf of the minorities and the oppressed against an India languishing in the stranglehold of Gau mutra drinkers, I am going to flip and throw up at the same time. As a former fan, I am happy enough that Shah Rukh Khan has delivered a blockbuster after a protracted dry spell at the box office but I am less enthused at the prospect of seeing more of this CGI – generated -sculpted-abs-wielding abomination in place of the brilliant actor who dared play the irresistible anti – hero in films like Baazigar, Darr and Anjaam.
Moreover, I draw the line at proclaiming him as a beleaguered victim just because he istrolled on occasion for his half – assed not – quite political proclamations on social media and had to deal with his son being arrested on trumped up drug possession charges, who has risen from the ashes to emerge as a triumphant champion of secular India struggling to assert itself against divisive politics. Given the extent of his wealth, fame, and power, he is better equipped than most to weather a storm so let us hold back on the pity already and save it for the more deserving. Like those unfortunate Indians who can’t afford three square meals a day, a roof over their heads or a potty beneath their bums and are about to lose their hard – earned LIC retirement funds thanks to the murky machinations of Mr. Adani.
Let’s face it, while there is much to love about King Khan, a small – time television actor who bucked the odds to emerge as the undisputed Badshah of Bollywood before Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Manish Malhotra got their claws into him and remade him as an overly styled lover boy who became increasingly risk – averse when it came to taking up meaty roles worthy of his considerable talent, it is nevertheless confusing as to why he is being projected as some sort of saint by all those starstruck journalists who are otherwise constantly crowing about fact – checking. Are they just going to ignore the Dawood controlled influence of the underworld in the 90s which saw the emergence of the Khan triumvirate or the fact that the IPL itself is a monster money – laundering scheme and anyone who is as closely associated with this enterprise as SRK is, cannot reasonably be viewed as Mr. Squeaky Clean?
Most importantly, why are so many insisting that a middling Bollywood film heralds the beginning of a new World order where love and acceptance has overpowered hate and intolerance? That is every bit as stupid as saying that the marriage of Siddharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani has reaffirmed our collective commitment to love and peace or that hugging a Cow is going to magically transform our lives, filling it with positive energy and untold benefits. Be smarter, people and free your befuddled brain from Bollywood machinations.
This article originally appeared in The New Indian Express Magazine.