Tuesday, August 18, 2009


That Shah Rukh Khan allegedly invoked the name of U.S secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an attempt to 'soften up' immigration officials at the Newark Airport is of far greater significance than the debate currently raging over the rights and wrongs concerning the star's detention.

By trying to invoke 'status' to seek exemptions, SRK has instantly turned from victim to transgressor and has relinquished the right to protest.

Of course back home SRK's supporters, some of whom are in government, have missed the point completely. The majority that has examined the issue have chosen to focus on the merits and demerits of U.S immigration protocol and the transgression that is social profiling. Few have asked the more basic question: What made SRK think that by dropping a name or two he could get a government official to ignore his duties or bend in compliance?

In 'our' part of the world people's actions are informed by what we routinely refer to as the 'baap ka raj' attitude. Status in 'our' part of the world is everything.

The upper caste believes his status grants him the right to subjugate, the cricketing icon believes his celebrity elevates himself above the game, the politician thinks his seat of power exempts him from the laws of propriety and the 'backward' thinks it is his right to expect privileges.

Consider this, on the day Shah Rukh Khan landed back in India, elsewhere a former minister of the realm and a serving member of Parliament, theatrically indignant, threatened to launch a 'militant movement' against the nation. K Chandrashekhar Rao's grouse: The Union government hadn't lent a sympathetic ear to his impassioned calls for separate statehood for Telangana a region in Andhra Pradesh.

And on the same day across the border in Maharashtra the state's agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat was arrogantly dismissive when it was suggested that he had violated the law of the land by entering the cage of a Tiger cub for no other reason than to ostensibly amuse himself.

Like KCR and Thorat, SRK's genuinely hurt because his experiences have conditioned him to believe that a 'nobody' cannot question a 'somebody'. His celebrity status, like it is the case with other stars in India, has guaranteed him the license to disregard rules that apply to the lesser mortal. Recent history is replete with examples too numerous to list.

KCR, the former Union Minister believes his status as a Member of Parliament accords him Constitutional immunity and the privilege to say whatever he feels like, however outrageous even if it verges on sedition or inciting violence. KCR's thinking has been conditioned by what he sees around him. All too often his ilk have flouted the law - killed, raped, robbed, bribed but seldom brought to book. Had any other ordinary citizen stood on a street corner and preached sedition he would have been thrown into jail no questions asked. No one would have stood up in support and quoted from the charter of rights.

If this is true of KCR then the Maharashtra State minister believes his status allows him an automatic right to help himself to the state's resources. If a Minister or bureaucrat can run up millions in unpaid bills and never brought to account then Throat, the minister in question, has a right to think he too can help himself to any state resource.

SRK’s sob story hasn't gone down well with the global media because the rest of the world is flat. Status doesn't automatically open doors, buy privileges or guarantee exemptions. It may masquerade as a calling card, a coat of arms or an old school tie but it certainly isn't treated like a badge of honour or a license to dodge rules.


  1. I endorse your view Rahul...very well written

  2. I think this issue was blown out of proportion!!!
    U've hit the nail on its head....Rahul!!!

  3. Too much importance is being attached to a non-event.

  4. Rahul..good writing. well, This had to happen especially when JS went against the beliefs and ethos of his party. There have been incindences in other parties including congress as well.Sharad Pawar's NCP was result of similar kind of incident when he went against the idea of soniya gandhi as PM of India. So far as this case is concerned, an experienced leader like JS should understand that what ever he writes, thinks and believes is not only his as an individual but also of a responsible office bearer of an opposition party of a democracy. He should have anticipated the after effect of release of the book.
    Freedom of writing and speech are all fine in democracy but they should be in a deciplined way. What ever JS wrote did not go well with BJP and probably with Indians as well.
    I think whatever BJP did was probably call of an organisation embarassed by the act of one of its office bearers. Mr. JS should not cry foul about it and move on.So far as RSS is concerned, a lot of People writing about it do not know it and have not made enough efforts to understand it.

  5. Each country has its own set of rules – some are more stringent than others. A visitor always has the choice to either go or not go to a destination that makes him\her uncomfortable. It is time our movie stars, politicians , cricketers and other ‘VVIPs’ woke up to a few international ground realities. The outside world is neither interested in nor impressed by any individual’s local status. Good, it happened to SRK. This is the sort of publicity no amount of lolly can buy.
    I think it was a clever promotional stunt for his next movie.
    What has he done to get a special treatment? Just a Bollywood actor !