On July 8, the National Commission for Women (NCW) will get a showing of Sultan, first day first show. In flesh and blood. That is, if Salman Khan deigns to appear. If all goes according to plan, the Dabangg Bhaijaan will utter the five-letter word to apologise for his “felt like a raped woman” comment. India will then be a safer place for women.
(Psst. ‘Sultan’ ka ticket hai kya, weekend show ka?)
1400 km away in Karimnagar district of Telangana, a 23-year-old girl who aspired to be a police officer, cares two hoots for Salman's “sorry”. In February, she was allegedly raped, filmed and blackmailed by three of her batchmates. The trio threatened to post the video clip on social media and assaulted her for ten days. Unable to take it anymore, she broke down and told her family what had happened.
Four months after the incident came to light, the video clip is still doing the rounds on Whatsapp. Complaints to the police, social activists say, have not stopped a voyeuristic society from shaming a helpless girl.
Does the need to seriously follow up on such cases occur to the NCW or to state women’s commissions? Have they made serious efforts to stop the circulation of the rape video? And what does it say about India's civil society – We, the Hypocritical People of India – who insist Salman say sorry, but won't think twice before sharing the video that captures the brutality of India's daughter being violated?
Karimnagar juxtaposed with Salman Khan has held up a mirror to a duplicitous India. And to Bollywood, where it does not matter if your surname is Khan. What matters is the first name that goes with it.
How else does one explain Bollywood's radio silence on Salman Khan's crass comment while Kamaal R Khan for his equally disgusting comments invite a change.org petition to ask Twitter to take his handle down, with several of the industry's well-known names urging you to sign it. You aren't to be blamed if you do not know who Kamaal R Khan is. He is a flop actor turned self-proclaimed ``best critic''. He calls himself KRK and you can guess why. K.K.K.K.Kamaal.
K se yaad aaya Shahrukh Khan, the incredibly intelligent actor with a sense of humour. Well-read and well-informed, SRK usually has an opinion on everything. But he chose to sing “yeh dosti hum nahi chodenge” with friend-turned-foe-turned-friend Salman, and posted pictures on social media of 'Karan Arjun' riding bikes. `Raees' promotion ka tweet @BeingSalmanKhan se pucca!
The other wrestler in Bollywood, the multitake-perfect Aamir Khan (Satyamev Jayate, rings a bell?) will only give weight loss tips. Farhan Akhtar, actor-director, and more importantly, founder of social campaign “Men against Rape and Discrimination” is on silent mode as well. Mum’s the word because “Aise hai bhaiya Bajrangi”. After all, who would want to give Vivek Oberoi company! ‘Queen’ Kangna Ranaut is the only prominent actor to disapprove of Salman's insensitive “metaphor” (Subhash Ghai, not me). But no one is taking a cue from the National Award-winning actor and saying Kaho na terrible hai. Especially after singer Sona Mohapatra got a taste of the depths to which Salman fans could sink.
KRK, for those who aren't among his 1.18 million followers on Twitter, is an obnoxious troll. Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood – all hate him. And since he is NOT Salman Khan, He Khan be booed. And finally forced to bow down.
He has now promised to mend himself. The might of Bollywood wins.
But the film industry is not the only part of India being human to Sallu Bhai. After members of its fraternity insensitively giggled when Salman used the rape analogy, the media went overboard on the story, junking everything else, because Salman means TRPs. Not that the same media that expects Bollywood to condemn Salman, applies this yardstick to itself. It has no qualms about letting the Khan promote his 'Sultan' in the garb of news on tv channels, the hashtags of #insensitivesalman, #sultanofarrogance notwithstanding.
In the dhandha of films and news, the wallet matters. Period.
If the Rajasthan instance is anything to go by, chal beta selfie le le re beckons at the NCW office this week. Salman helps this body, which chose to look the other way when Mulayam Singh Yadav crudely said, “Boys will be boys, they make mistakes”, keep itself in the news. Or when the latest bad tune in town, playback singer Abhijeet linked Swathi's murder in Chennai to love jihad and then showed his pathetic vocabulary with a string of unprintable abuses aimed at a woman journalist who took him on.
If Kishore Kumar was alive today, he would have kicked Abhijeet for becoming famous by singing his songs.
As I write this, a 10-year-old girl in Hyderabad has been raped and killed and her body thrown on the railway track. The accused allegedly is a 30-year-old man who came out of prison on July 1, after serving a one-year sentence.
Bhai, tum sorry bologe ya nahi.