CELEBRITY OPINIONS: VOICE CAREFULLY

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After Aamir Khan spoke about growing intolerance in the country and  Shahrukh Khan said that one does not need to prove one’s  patriotism. Things have been very different for both of them. They have been strongly criticized and their films and brand value devalued.

Sharuhkh clarified”You don’t have to be proving your patriotism in any other way, except for thinking good for the country and doing good. You have to work for the benefit of the country. If I work for the country in the most kindest way in what I am good at, my country is going to benefit from that. But if I am corrupt, and regional about it, I will be harming my country,” said Shahrukh.

Actually what Aamir said at The Indian Express event was: “When I sit at home and talk to Kiran, she says, ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day.”

From this statement alone, it cannot be inferred that Aamir or Kiran had put a jet in taxiing mode to fly out of the country. If a citizen wonders whether he or she should move out of the country because of some of the events unfolding here, how can it be construed as an exit policy?

Shouldn’t it be treated as an expression of anguish that should be addressed with the gravity it deserves?

The brand ambassador of ‘Incredible India’ campaign also said that he is proud to be an Indian national and does not need anyone’s permission to prove his ‘Indianness’. His words weren’t a threat or a real intent to leave India but a cry of anguish. Anguish that a child from any minority group in India today  may never have the chance to grow up as a normal citizen, that he or she will always be on test, ‘tolerated’ by the great majority at best. People in our corridors of power should be ashamed of this.

As usual whatever he actually meant didn’t matter to the mob mentality of the social media and the right-wing and fence-sitter media. It decided to act. According to them, the person Aamir and brand Aamir had ‘crossed the line and had to be addressed. The first target was Snapdeal for which Aamir was the brand ambassador. Lakhs downgraded Snapdeal ratings and uninstalled the app. Snapdeal was late to react and issue a statement and the protest continued till Snapdeal was forced to remove Aamir from its Twitter home page. This was the first time such severe commercial damage had been done over a mere public statement. Now they wanted more and the target shifted to Aamir’s next film Dangal.

However there was a small catch. Dangal is set to release in December 2016! That’s too far off. Since Dilwale was to be released in some weeks, #BoycottDilwale became the sole target.

Nowadays, it’s unfortunate that even a generic statement can be turned into radical statements by people.

Shahrukh’s statements regarding ‘intolerance’ were misunderstood and had an adverse impact on the box-office performance of his latest release ‘Dilwale’ in some parts of India. Shah Rukh received a lot of flak across the nation for his comments, with many urging viewers to boycott his ‘Dilwale’. SRK had maintained that the people demanding the ban or boycott were “opportunists”. So, while brand Salman Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo made Rs 40 odd crore on the opening day, brand Shahrukh’s Dilwale registered barely half of that at Rs 21 crore. The collections dropped on Saturday, but on Monday, Bajirao Mastani overtook Dilwale!

And brand Aamir Khan’s forthcoming releases may also face the consequences for his general and innocent comment.

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen tore into the vitals of the intolerance debate saying India has been much too “tolerant with intolerance” and that “small but organized groups” are trying to impose their rules on the larger fabric of society in the garb of hurt sentiments.

Fridaybrands.com opines that after the recent edition of so-called ‘sedition’ and intolerance in JNU and last years’ Aamir Khan-Shahrukh Khan generic comments on intolerance and their cataclysmic Bollywood aftermath, it would very prudent for everyone, celebrity or no celebrity to use all words with discretion and extreme caution. Although this state of affairs is very unfortunate and dangerous for democracy in our country, it’s a prudent thing to do nowadays. Express your opinions subtly with a balance.However, we still believe that ultimately democracy and liberalism will win in this country…

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