dailyO
Politics

The joke is on Salman Khan. Why should I be offended?

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi
Suchitra KrishnamoorthiJul 07, 2016 | 18:57

The joke is on Salman Khan. Why should I be offended?

I no longer subscribe to newspapers or watch television. The news depresses me - the old adage of no news being good news coming true every time. It's the same everywhere I look, every page I turn.

Filmstars on their PR overdrive, politicians on their one-upmanship drivel, and oh, not to forget rapists and rich kids of MLAs mowing down the poor and homeless in their BMWs and jaguars.

Same old thing, different day. So I stay away from it. Totally.

I know if there is a situation or an event of significance, the news will come to me soon enough, no matter how stoic my avoidance of it is. And over the years, I also know that there must indeed be an uproar of a "woman-oriented" matter by the way my phone starts to ring frantically.

It's the TV channels asking for a sound bite, of course. Prime time is an important slot - the channels need familiar faces you see. If someone is willing to speak freely, it's even better and the more the merrier. And if they are willing to talk against the leading film stars or politicians, it's a hoot, isn't it?

"So madam, what do you have to say about...?"

"Please madam. It won't take more than half an hour..."

Sometimes I happily accept, if it's a matter close to my heart.  At other times I acquiesce, only because it's impossible to say no after the umpteenth time, or because the telephone call has been timely. When I'm so bored I need to fill up my hours and feel self-important.

By talking about other people.

So this time around a couple of weeks ago,  when my phone started to ring many days in a row, I knew something important must have occurred in the world of news again, perhaps involving womanhood, or filmdom, or both.

Something that had the feminists up in arms.

And I was right.

"Madam, please can you tell us what you think about the Salman Khan statement where he said the shooting of his new movie Sultan was so gruelling he felt like a 'raped woman'?"

"Just half an hour madam, we'll send the camera home."

I tried staying away from the herd but it was impossible. Everywhere I went, people could talk of nothing else. The outrage was everywhere. In their drawing rooms, while partying in their ball rooms, amongst the Twitterati, the chatterati, the glitterati.

"How dare Salman Khan say such a thing ya... how can he trivialise something so serious as rape and compare it to his role in a movie?"

"Does a woman who is raped get paid Rs 100 crore to be abused?"

"Does he even know what a raped woman feels like? I mean why didn't he say he felt like a sodomised man?"

"Can you imagine he's refusing to apologise?"

"Did you know Salman's father Salim Khan has apologised on his behalf? Why should a 70-year-old man apologise for his 50-year-old son? Why didn't he teach him good manners in the first place ya?"

"What is this a PTA meeting - that a father has to come into the classroom and say: 'Mere bete se galti ho gayi. Please use maaf kardo and school se mat nikaalo'?"

I desisted from commenting then but I will say it now.

salmankhan-sultan759_070716064106.jpg
Salman Khan's irresponsible comment was more dumb than malicious.

In my opinion, Salman Khan's comment, "of feeling like a raped woman", was more insensitive and dumb than offensive.

And I only say it today on another bored afternoon: because it is a matter of our collective (sub)conscious, psyche, culture and environment that surrounds it. What we allow, what we imbibe and how we think. This is a matter much larger than any filmstar or his genuflecting tribe of followers or attackers.

In my view, the fact that an actor of Salman's stature and experience said it was a mere error of judgment and a spur of the moment irresponsible act on his part. Actors are under a lot of pressure while promoting their film, nonsense slips out of their mouth sometimes.

But yet it was a typical statement. Certain kind of typical. And that is the real malady here.

It was a statement that is *All Male, On Steroids, Himbo kinda dumb dumba dumb dumb*.  

A locker room, sharing porn on *high school boys* WhatsApp groups kinda folly.  

The *aaj mein iski leke rahoonga* kind of warped machismo that stems from a primordial need to control, dominate abuse abuse. What next, beat your chest and swing from a tree? Drag your woman by the hair and "take" her in your cave?

Hey you may still be Tarzan but me no Jane, dig? And herein, my friends, is where the difference lies.

See, over the last few years I have been shocked to discover that many men indeed talk like that. Yes, indeed they do. But, only amongst themselves. Not when there are women present.

Certainly not *decent women*.

Yes, even your dear friends, husbands and your brothers and kind uncles may talk like that. Even the educated and the so called "genteel".  

We women never or rarely know about it because they don't talk to us or within our earshot that way. We the sisters, the mothers, the daughters and the wives are protected from all this. But yes, men do talk like that amongst themselves and sometimes to those women who are not their sisters, their mothers, their daughters or their wives. Women who are so vulnerable that they have to bear the brunt of this animal in the male.

Women who are people. But who recognises or respects people for just being people. Why some of these men even pat each other on the back for it - the more violent, the more masculine they consider themselves.

Remember Nirbhaya?

So what concerned me more than Salman's thoughtless statement were the women around him who laughed at that comment. What exactly were these women laughing at? Or was their reaction as thoughtless and lacking in empathy as Salman's own lines?

What also bothered me a tad was the outrage that followed. The faux feminism. The need to punish, humiliate and disempower. The clichés. The platitudes. Why are we behaving like moral science teachers? Why are we forcing a man to apologise when he himself cannot perceive his wrong? Why are we attacking the ape rather than educating teaching and training him?

As I am writing this, I am reminded of an incident many years ago at a screening of a movie where a man said of the leading actress: "I doubt if she can make it to the screening today. I mean after last night with me, I'm sure she can barely walk."

The actress (who, this man has not noticed, was already seated at the theatre) laughed the loudest.

I was appalled - I mean, how could she? This ugly man had just said such a vile thing about her in public and all she could do was laugh? The man laughed even louder, when he saw the actress laughing. She laughed again, again louder than him.

I asked her about it when I had a chance later. Wasn't she offended by what the man had said about her? I certainly was.

"Ha, it wasn't about me," the actress laughed again. "That was really funny because that man has nothing there... He was just trying to show off to his friends. He didn't even realise that the joke is on him - why would I be offended?"

Last updated: July 08, 2016 | 19:20
IN THIS STORY
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy