Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shahrukh Need Not Be A Silent Spectator And Yes He BELONGS to India

I am not exactly a Shahrukh Khan fan even though I find him extremely compassionate each time that I have met him. There is something genuinely nice and simple about him. Being away from Twitter gives me the luxury of rising up to controversial news items a bit late in the day. I am fine with that. Now, when I read this silly write up on the so called Muslim-Victimhood card allegedly played by Shahrukh in an article in a magazine, I was simply appalled. (http://m.firstpost.com/bollywood/kingvictimhood-shah-rukh-khan-biteshand-that-fed-him-603618.html?page=2). The easiest thing to do is to misjudge Shahrukh's thoughts out-of-context. And yes, it is true that being a Muslim, life is most certainly tough in India. 

I have stopped travelling in train from Mumbai to New Delhi as we have faced relentless jibes the moment it is disclosed that we are having a Muslim name. If some zealots cause mayhem  at Azaad Maidaan, one has to be constantly on guard against insensitive taunts. Narendra Modi's 'efficacy' is hammered in the face now and then. The intention is not to laud Modi's management skills, the intention is to rub it in your face...that's how 'you guys' ought to be disciplined. Urdu is a beautiful language but it has been obfuscated out of the country in a planned manner by labeling it as a 'Muslim' language. Urdu is such an intrinsic part of Punjabi culture but gradually it is dying there too. During my childhood, in a Pakistan-England cricket match for example, I used to support England. During an India-Pakistan match, obviously my loyalties were with India. But as the time went by, during an India-Pakistan match, it is assumed that I must be sympathetic towards Pakistan and hoping for 'them' to win. I have stopped justifying my loyalties. I don't discuss an India-Pakistan match with friends any more. I don't want to appease anyone. 

My father's great grandfather was a Rajput Hindu who later converted to Islam. We've been brought up in an extremely secular atmosphere. My mother excitedly watched all the episodes of Mahabharat and Ramayan on television and lauded Krishna's teaching on 'Karma'. I don't support the ghetto mentality of Muslims in India. They need to constantly keep making efforts at becoming part of the mainstream. Many are making that effort but much more reassurance is needed. Muslims should not be expected to prove their loyalty at every small instance. Much more steps are needed to step up the confidence building measures. 

Talking about the silly write up by Venky Vembu, the headline in itself is condescending and patronising. When Vembu says, 'King of Victimhood: Shah Rukh Khan bites the hand that fed him', he needs to make a correction. It is not the 'hand that fed him'. The man has 'earned' his place under the sun. Objectively speaking, if you travel to any part of the world today, there are many people who know India because of Shahrukh Khan. I have interacted with his fans from Peru, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Korea, Middle East, US, UK, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and many other countries. Many of them are NOT Asians. They don't understand Hindustani but still they love Shahrukh Khan unconditionally. In turn they end up loving India because that's where Khan is from and that's where he Belongs. 

It is time everyone realises that India is a pluralistic society. India is a democracy where everyone has a right to speak out their mind. It is most certainly not fair to constantly put a group of people into corner and relentlessly make them feel guilty. Shahrukh Khan may have messed up in his personal matters last year but he has every right in the world to express his concerns on national issues rather than being a silent spectator. 


  1. Sir, thank you for the honest article. It is sad when people are forced to remain silent. In this situation the society will never be civilized and secular. And you're absolutely right, I'm from Russia, and I became interested the India only because you have SRK.

  2. Thank you so much for voicing your support for SRK. Seldom do I read texts that are so full of hatred towards someone as the hogwash by Venky Vembu. This guy seriously needs to go on a long vacation; maybe then his reading comprehension will improve. And I'm NOT Asian, by the way, I'm from Poland. It is thanks to SRK that I got interested in Indian cinematography, in Indian culture, in India itself. I've never ever heard of a Mr. Vembu. Up till now. I wonder who gave him the right to expel one of India's finest gem from his country. Shame on you, Mr. Vembu.

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  4. Culturally we are all strange creatures when it comes to the line between personal and public beliefs and convictions. At times when those that rant & rage the loudest convince those that are unaware the din can be deafening. But it is the way of the world to speak out of ignorance or some other such streak to fan the flames in either direction. There is no soul attached it seems and the likely target in the crosshairs takes both barrels. Human nature is very fickle and which ever way the wind blows leads one to be cautious. That being said there is no earthly reason to compromise not to prove a point but to be a lonely voice but not a martyr.

  5. My pleasure Svetlana and Kate...its not a matter of supporting Shahrukh...its a matter of putting things in perspective i guess...

    Agree with Margaret...as always your views echo my sentiments too


  6. I really understand, Faridoon, that there is much more to the matter and that it's not about taking sides only. But I also do get an impression that more and more often when SRK has something important to say, be it on Twitter or during the press conferences or otherwise, his words are immediately taken out of context and misinterpreted. The journos have a new "controversy", various so-called experts have a reason to analise/humiliate him publicly and SRK has to explain, issue statements, apologise... And he's quite alone in that while usually his biggest "fault" is that he's a very intelligent man who has his own point of view. Do the Indian media people really prefer to listen to, write good stuff about and stand by the dumbo celebrities? Only because they have family connections and SRK doesn't have any?

    To finish on a more positive note and because these are my first comments on your blog, I really appreciate your work and it is always a pleasure to listen to your interviews with stars. Keep on the good job :)
    Greetings from Poland.

  7. Dear Mr. Faridoon,
    I have not read about SRK matter yet, but your words make me feel very sad. Truly hope your daughter doesn't have to bear similar things. We are not Christians or Hindus or Muslims or... We are only humans, and all of us share the same love for life and the same fear for death.
    On a lighter note, years ago I read some interesting books on Islam, but I must admit (please, don't laugh! I also smile to myself when I think of that) only thanks to Muslim Indian actors I began to interact comfortably with Muslims living in my town. The Khans have the merit to show to Western fans a new image of Muslims. Why should I feel fear of Muslims now? When I meet a Muslim on my train, coming back home after work, I start immediately to exhaust him/her talking about Indian cinema... Muslim is no more synonymous of terrorist (as Western media keep on telling us) in my subconscious: the first thing coming to my mind when I listen or read the word Muslim is KHAN TRIO !!!

  8. Thanks Kate. Not everyone in media is bad or having wrong or unprofessional attitude.

    Thanks for your thoughts Celeste


  9. You called the write up by Venky Vembu SILLY and CONDESCENDING and PATRONIZING. Hope you have the moral fortitude to hold a mirror to yourself and your article.

    You are entitled to your opinions but not to your facts.

    Warm regards and all the best...

  10. Well, Anonymous, i don't respond to or respect people who don't mention their names. Anonymity is the second name for cowardice If you wish lets meet face to face and then talk about 'facts' or whatever you were talking about.