Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cons of being a superstar

The first lesson that I learnt as a journalism student was that as a journalist I can never be biased. My reporting, writing etc. can never be prejudiced for or against any particular individual. Four years have passed hence and I have always tried to keep that little and vital piece of information in my journalistic head. However, as I observe the glitzy media world surrounding me I find the lesson I learnt being squashed mercilessly as the power hungry media folks (especially the TV ones) vociferously hunting down big names and stars in the greed of getting some eyeballs.  Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan seems to be the latest victim of this greed.

Seemingly always in the limelight SRK seems to have become a victim of his own superstardom as he found himself in an ugly fracas with the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) folks who have banned him for 5 years from the Wankhade stadium for misbehaving and abusing the security personnel. The incident happened after the conclusion of the IPL match between SRK’s team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Mumbai Indians, which incidentally was won by KKR. If one were to believe the MCA’s version of the story SRK was highly drunk and beat up the security guards when they merely asked his daughter to move away from the boundary ropes. When I first read the story I was astounded that a person of the caliber of SRK would do something like this. The more I read into this (I chose not to follow television news as I consider them the most biased and irritating medium of our media) the more I am convinced that the MCA version is hogwash.

I have never really been an SRK fan and I thus write this without a shred of biasness and just by what my gut feeling tells me. I observed the pictures of the incident where an agitated SRK has his fists clenched and eyes seething with anger. A question pops in my head. Why would SRK be so angry? Especially after his team has convincingly beaten the Mumbai Indians that night. I then closely listen to the audio of the incident. Lots of shouting and abusing. A person, probably a security guard calls SRK a ‘bewda’ (drunkard). Another one abuses him and tells him that they would throw him away. Not one to take things lying down SRK gave them back word for word. Even if he was drunk, SRK is one of the biggest stars of our country and to call him such names is not just downright insulting it is shameful. Moreover, SRK it seems was one against 20-25 people and yet the MCA says it is SRK who should apologize.

In the press conference that he called the next day SRK stated that he found the security people roughly handling his kids and their friends who were playing alongside the boundary ropes and thus had to intervene. If I were to put myself in SRK’s shoes I would have behaved in much the same way myself. If someone dares touch my family I would try to rip them apart. Least of all when it’s my kid. I would most definitely lose my cool if someone called me a bewda, abused me and told me to get the hell out despite being the owner of the team that just played the match there. SRK was well within his rights to let his kids play alongside the boundary ropes. I am not much for generalizing but it is a known fact in India that security people can be quite arrogant and unnecessarily high-headed. I have been a victim of that myself. It is quite a familiar sight to see someone with a tag of security hanging around his neck rudely trying to shove you aside in long queues. It could have been very much possible that someone thought of trying to get his 15 minutes of fame by trying to ‘show SRK his place’. He would have thought of going back home and telling his son coolly.. “You know what beta..Aaaj maine Shahrukh Khan ko uski aukat dikha di…mere saamne koi nhi tikta..”  

The BCCI too is quite tight-lipped on the issue. Probably relieved that the incident has taken some light away from the spot-fixing controversy involving some local players last week. Why try and resolve the issue when people are so focused on SRK  bashing at the moment isn't it??  Being a superstar does have its privileges but it does come with a fair amount of cons as well, this seems to be one of them.

Not to forget many people from our beloved Kolkata are jumping with glee on this news. The very people who in the first IPL considered SRK as the best actor of the country are now enjoying the ‘dirt’ that he is in. That has nothing to do with the ‘greatest captain’ being kicked out from SRK's team I believe?? On the flip-side there are others who are welcoming SRK at the Eden and his ‘home’ Kolkata. I am sorry to say this is not about us versus them. Not Mumbai versus Kolkata. This is not the time to take pleasure at someone else’s failings and become a jii huzoor’; something that this state’s people are known to be. The issue has larger ramifications.

SRK has been one of the biggest stars that the country has ever produced after Big B. His contribution towards Indian cinema is invaluable. I have never been an SRK fan but over the years I have really started to admire his character. The way he presents himself to the media, his sense of humour, his extreme level of passion and hard work towards his work are things that everyone can learn from. Moreover, he made his foothold in the industry without the help of any chacha or mama or papa. All on his own like Big B.  It is thus hard to fathom why someone of SRK’s stature would behave like this.

In India this always seems to be the case. When someone gets unusually famous people try and bring them down. Big B, Dhoni, Narendra Modi and SRK are all fine examples of this who have all faced the downside of their popularity. People without trying get into the real issue just lap up whatever the media tells them and start hurling stones at those figures without once sitting to think and acknowledging what the real truth is.  Once you are famous, the media gets bored of saying good things about you and is always in the hunt for delicious wrong doings that might get them eyeballs. The MCA fracas is very much the case in point. An article in the Times of India of stated that the days of brand SRK is slowly dwindling away. This, despite his last film Don 2 being a blockbuster. The very journos who were licking his feet a few weeks back are now excitedly questioning his behavior without really bothering to verify the reports. Come November and you will find these very media people hounding SRK for ‘exclusives’ on his new film.  If I sit and start talking about the disgusting levels to which the TV media has risen to it would perhaps require a book or perhaps another article now that I think of it.

The incident made me ponder and realize a few things. That the TV media is the worst medium of representation of news in our country , that security guards and officials in our country need to be properly trained for high-headedness and arrogance, that the people of our country can very easily be misled and finally that being a superstar is not an easy task in this country. I might not be a SRK fan but I shall not be persuaded to believe utter rubbish. Not that it would make a difference to him, but I a non SRK-fan stands by his side and believes that he is right in what he did. Lastly, I thank him for bringing us endless entertainment over the years and for his contribution towards Indian cinema to take it to the level it is now. To hell with those who don’t think likewise.

(PS.: To those who believe what I said is right, one small piece of advice. Do not be misled by the ‘support’ that Mamata Banerjee has shown towards SRK. She has only her political interests at heart. We would do better than to listen to such imbeciles.)

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