“Being diverse is a good thing, being divisive is not.”
April 22, 2019, will be remembered as the day Salman Khan’s Bharat trailer dropped — social media was taken by storm, India trend pages massacred, and bhaijaan fans realised that election ke aage Eid hai.
But coexisting somewhere surreptitiously on our Twitter feed was another Khan — with his idea of Bharat.
Not the film, though.
Monday was perhaps just one of those days at Mannat, where you could imagine publicists scurrying around, tracking a barrage of Twitter reactions after two videos of Shah Rukh Khan, almost back to back, dropped.
PM sahib @narendramodi ne creativity ki liye bola tha. Main thoda late ho gaya video banane mein...aap mat hona Vote karne mein!!! ‘Voting is not only our Right, it is our Power.’ Please Use It. Thank u to @tanishkbagchi @abbyviral @parakramsinghr . https://t.co/9280i8BnK3— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) April 22, 2019
First came a rap, a-la Gully Boy style, with King Khan urging every Indian to vote, at 2:29 pm. Karo Matdan: It’s time to vote, about a one-minute video, has SRK crooning to peppy beats and reminding you to cast your vote this Lok Sabha election.
The message was simple — without making it look agenda-driven or toeing the line of any particular party. Here’s a responsible citizen of India, urging other responsible citizens of India to take the power of democracy into their hands. Well, fingertips, actually.
No, SRK is no great singer — unlike bhaijaan, ‘cuz there is nothing he can’t do — but the attempt is an earnest one. And frankly, commendable too.
PM Narendra Modi soon praised Shah Rukh for his video and the message behind it. While some might look at that as a deliberate attempt to ‘colour’ SRK’s message, to be honest, this argument doesn’t hold much water.
And then, at precisely 2:38 pm came another clip — a part of a documentary shared by filmmaker Yasmin Kidwai.
Hear King Khan @iamsrk himself on his idea of India- very grateful that he gave his valuable time to speak to me for my documentary Filmisthaan-The Euphoric state of Bollywood on India & our intrinsic pluralistic culture - pic.twitter.com/kuBW88Alk9— Yasmin Kidwai (@YasminKidwai) April 22, 2019
“...1,600 languages and dialects in our country, and every 10 km or 15 km the dialect changes. I don't know how many hundreds of religions co-exist here. Being diverse is a good thing, being divisive is not. Like art has no religion. I think our country really has no religion. And all of them amalgamated together. India is a beautiful painting and all colours just enhance each other. You take away one colour or start saying this colour is better than the other, I think the painting is not a painting anymore,” said SRK in the video.
Did Shah Rukh Khan just reveal his political alignment in under 30 seconds?
By saying ‘hundreds of religions co-exist’ in India that ‘really has no religion,’ SRK clearly bats for a truly secular nation — crushing the idea of a polarised, one religion-driven country.
When we ‘start saying this colour is better than the other’ we stand the risk of destroying the ‘beautiful painting’ that India is, where ‘all colours just enhance each other.’
Was this SRK’s way of pointing a finger at our political biases?
When SRK says ‘being diverse is a good thing, being divisive is not’, is he talking about constant efforts of othering of a specific section, and our collective failure in accepting the one little truth we all learnt in school — unity in diversity?
And perhaps, if one were to go back to the poll rap, one would be able to hear between the lines.
Now surely, the poll rap was timed — completely in-sync with the third phase of polling that starts today.
Minutes later, the interview excerpt was timed too. Let’s not forget, a gang of publicists are probably scurrying around in Mannat, tracking social media reactions and managing SRK’s image.
Perhaps King Khan has finally decided to exercise the power he always had.