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How to joke about rape like Salman Khan and get away

Vinayak Chakravorty
Vinayak ChakravortyJun 25, 2016 | 11:04

How to joke about rape like Salman Khan and get away

We need to understand what Salman Khan is. I use the word "what" and not "who" because we know very well who Salman Khan is. We know he is the superstar who rules Hindi filmdom right now, thus commanding the mindspace of an overwhelming majority in Bollywood-addicted India.

Realising the "what" aspect about Salman’s persona would perhaps let us fathom where his flippant rape comment was coming from. Salman Khan is a phenomenon created by smart marketing forces, to fulfil the need of a politically-incorrect larger society that is constantly in the need of idol worship.

Which essentially gives him an aura of infallibility in the illeducated spread of confusion that is India.

salman-khan-in_062516105516.jpg
The result is a Bad Boy image bigger than the man or his superstardom.

But that sort of infallibility comes to every screen superstar, you could argue. What sets Salman apart?

Unlike other Bollywood superstars, one can safely infer Salman Khan has not grown up in all these years. His success is not necessarily the product of a personal understanding of his craft.

He is still an overgrown spoilt brat who has had greatness thrust upon him because India has somehow madly fallen in love with whatever it is he does on screen.

Given the unconditional fan frenzy that he commands, Salman seems to be overawed by his own success. The situation in turn spawns an ego trip, which blurs the line between how a man ought to behave and not behave in public.

Last weekend’s lip-slip before journalists was such an instance. Because, just like it is with his life and career, Salman normally does not plan what he says either.

The result is a Bad Boy image bigger than the man or his superstardom.

It makes Salman an object of censure for those who feel he has just been fortunate to scale the heights riding sufficient good looks, lots of steroids and very little talent.

But it also continues endearing him to his fierce band of loyalists who become more protective about their superstar with every new soup he hauls himself into.

For Salman, the sheer force with which his loyalists rally behind him has been the reason of his sustained superstardom. They simply will not let go of their hero.

Very few superstars are fortunate to have such unquestioned fan fidelity. A random example would be Tamil icon Rajinikanth. But while Rajini has always maintained the dignified image of a gentleman, Salman, like everything else about his life, has never given a damn.

Perhaps he never felt the need to. The larger audience base that props his superstardom has never quite been interested in political correctness.

His rape analogy may ruffle feathers on social media, but his real fan base — the masses — could not care less.

Unlike today, when even the multiplex crowds are swooning over Salman, his hardcore fans were loyal to him even when he made rubbish flicks that often passed off misogyny as comedy.

He has come to be a mascot of sorts of that population segment, many among which are often driven by twisted notions of machismo that deem rape jokes cool.

Did Salman have that idea in mind, when he blurted out an awful slice of his mindset?

Last updated: June 25, 2016 | 11:04
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