Friends, Indians, countrymen,
I see that there is much hullabaloo over the statements Aamir Khan, the eminent Bollywood actor, made recently. But before we can actually talk about his words, we must acknowledge the Dadri lynching episode first. For those who are unaware of this, this incident refers to the mob attacks made on a Muslim family in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. The family consisted of 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi, his son Danish, his elderly mother and wife. On the night of 28th September, 2015, the mob dragged the family outside, repeatedly kicked and stabbed them, and hit them with bricks. This led to the death of Mohammad Akhlaq and seriously injured his son Danish. Oh, I almost forgot to mention why the mob was so upset that it felt compelled to end another man’s life: because there were rumours that the family had consumed beef. Yes. They decided to eat beef in the privacy of their own house, which, I guess, is completely unacceptable. What is totally acceptable is getting KILLED for it. *slow clap*
One would think that would be the end of it. But no, no, no. This story grows even more unbelievable. After the people involved in the attacks were arrested, the locals decided to PROTEST. Yes. And by protest I don’t mean the peaceful kind, hell no, we love Gandhi, but what’s the fun in a non-violent protest? You can’t possibly have an impact unless you burn a good ol’ car or two. So that’s what they did. The locals torched vehicles and vandalized shops- yes, they destroyed property belonging to civilians who were completely uninvolved in this entire argument.
Consider the following scenario: There was a poor shopkeeper, let’s call him X (I can’t even name a damn hypothetical guy for fear of people immediately classifying him as Hindu or Muslim and then factoring in that into the argument). X didn’t give a shit about whether Akhlaq ate beef or not. But a whole bunch of insane Hindu zealots did. Let’s call them J (for jobless). J went and killed Akhlaq, and then got arrested. Now the relatives R of J will, by definition, be Hindu zealots too (seems to be true in this case, at least). They couldn’t possibly stay quiet: R had to show the government their displeasure! So R went and destroyed X’s shop. See what happened there?
As India never shies away from a good debate (meaning tuning into Arnab Goswami every night and letting him do all the shouting for us), the topic “Is India growing intolerant?” was hotly discussed by every academic, non-academic, and person-who-must-speak-for-the-sake-of-fighting. So when Aamir Khan was asked what he felt about this, he said:
“(Wife) Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet.”
Let’s analyze his answer sentence by sentence:
- Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India: True.
- For the first time, she said, should we move out of India?: Just a thought, nothing written in stone. Guess what, people have thoughts all the time. Are you saying you haven’t had ONE thought EVER in your life that was disloyal towards your country?
- That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me.: He expresses his disbelief over his wife’s thoughts.
- She fears for her child.: I would too if my child could be murdered for eating beef. Wouldn’t you?
- She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday.: This was in the context of Muslim safety, and I’d like to direct you to this article: Violence against Muslims in India. The page says that there have been over 10,000 deaths in Hindu-Muslim communal violence since 1950. Let that register. 10,000 only in communal violence: an average of 1861 deaths over religion every year. Of course, this line was entirely hyperbolic- a superstar’s family obviously has no need to worry about safety.
- That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet.: This was Aamir Khan’s conclusion- mind you, it was Aamir Khan’s conclusion, HIS opinion, entirely HIS own, not yours, not your wife’s or your dog’s. It’s like the Khap panchayat saying: “Eating chow mein leads to rape!“. Or me saying: “I feel like all the elephants in the world should be painted purple!” An opinion is an opinion is an opinion. It can be wrong, stupid, based on unverified facts, irrelevant or even true. But you know, it is entirely possible that… drumroll please… it is NOT the same as yours! Whoaaaaaa!
I apologize for the heavy sarcasm in this article. I just can not believe just how strongly we feel about things- without good reason to. Consider the following tweets to Aamir Khan (by Anupam Kher, Ram Gopal Verma, and Paresh Rawal, and some other regular people):
@AnupamPKher: Dear @aamir_khan. Did you ask Kiran which country would she like to move out to? Did you tell her that this country has made you AAMIR KHAN.
@RGVZoomin: Isn’t Aamir,Sharuk,Salman,3 Muslims becoming biggest stars of a Hindu country proof enough that india is tolerant?
@SirPareshRawal: If I believe this is my motherland then I will never talk about leaving it ….but I would if I had believed otherwise …
@rageshjagasia: 6.5 lakh customers uninstall @snapdeal app until 7 pm. @aamir_khan let’s down his sponsors and the whole of India. #AamirKhan
@BJPRaniganj: Hello @snapdeal and @godrejgroup deleting you since Ur brand ambassador #AamirKhan opened my eyes #BoycotSnapdelGodrej
Phew. The amount of emotion we have pent up inside is clearly evident. Celebs coming into chime about this issue, people asking Aamir Khan to leave India for good, and others doing their bit to uphold India’s pride by deleting Snapdeal’s app (I am not even going to get started on the ridiculousness of acting out against Snapdeal for this).
For everyone saying “India has MADE Aamir Khan”… yes, he has been blessed with adulation from the masses for a long time now- but it’s not some sort of pity love or charity. Aamir Khan has consistently made good movies (except Dhoom 3, what a bummer that was) and entertained you all. He is the only Bollywood actor with some respect for stuff like dialogues, script, and acting in a movie. So all of you who say “Oh, we made you Aamir Khan, without us you would be nothing!” can go suck it. He is a talented man and would have had his success anywhere.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even the guy who felt that by deleting Snapdeal’s app, Aamir Khan would feel utter shame over his unfortunate words. But if you must make a comeback, make a good one- look at the facts, look at what he said, analyze it. And whatever you do, keep anger out of it. Anger blinds reason. Anger blinds logic. I feel like whenever something like this happens, our reactions are completely churlish and inane. From the seven lines in his statement, all our ears heard was: “Should we move out of India?“, and this is what we reacted to by saying: “You want to leave India? Fine. We don’t need you anyway. Shoo.” That’s the summary of it all- something a 5-year-old would say.
India’s reaction towards Aamir’s words only drove his point further home- they couldn’t tolerate his views on intolerance. Funny how things go, huh? A country’s maturity is reflected by its attitude towards the criticism it receives. And we can either shout ourselves hoarse about our awesomeness or we can face the fact that we are not perfect. We are not incredible. And it’ll be a while before we can be everything we tout ourselves to be. Till then, everybody needs to just chill the fuck out.
I’ll leave you with the funniest tweet I’ve seen over far over this matter-