Earlier this week, Bollywood’s favourite bad boy Salman Khan got acquitted in 2 of his poaching cases by the Rajasthan High Court. Isn’t that surprising? Not!
Salman Khan along with Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and others were allegedly charged with killing 2 black bucks in 1998 while shooting for Hum Saath Saath Hain. They didn’t care much for beautiful, endangered animals back then, and it looks like they don’t care much for them now, either! So all that’s happened in the 18 years since the alleged incident is witnesses turning hostile, and evidence that has suddenly gone missing, resulting in the acquittal of the superstar. While the acquittal is sadly unsurprising, it leaves us with a lot of food for thought.
What if a common man from a village in Rajasthan had the same allegations slapped on him? Would he be walking around scot free, raking in crores of rupees and going to work like nothing happened? We’re guessing not.
And it isn’t the first time Salman has escaped the clutches of the law, either. If we didn’t know any better, we’d say we’re growing tired of baby sitting an overgrown man-child who never learned to take no for an answer, and never allowed anyone to discipline him.
And we blame ourselves for this, in part. We throw money at cinema screens during his movies, and we throw ourselves at him when we see him in public. We wait with bated breath for Bigg Boss’ never ending seasons just to see the host shake a leg with some hot model or the other every weekend. And we visit restaurants established in his honour, only to ensure we pass the word on to 10 other people whether we liked our experience or not. Why? Because Bhaijaan.
But for how long? For how long are we going to be ‘theek hai, galti ho gayi’? Will we stop when he’s acquitted for running over an innocent street urchin, when the sole eyewitness to the accident is ostracized by society and left to die? Or when said eyewitness actually dies? Maybe we’ll stop when his ex-girlfriends call him a woman beater and walk around with black eyes and bruises on their body. Probably when he plays the epitome of chivalry on screen, and in the same year makes a casual remark about rape and brushes it away.
Because, regardless of his shortcomings, his charity-established-as-an-aftermath-of-guilt, and his blatant callousness towards decent public behaviour, he is Bollywood’s most sought after actor. He may not be the hero we need, but he does have Bollywood at his beck and call. No one wants to be the next Vivek Oberoi. Or the next Arijit Singh. No one wants to get into Bhai’s bad books. What if he ends our career? What if we’re left to fend for ourselves even though the industry is staring at us?
The tragedy of this whole situation is that we will not stop. We will not stop falling over each other to watch his latest release first day first show. And we will not stop abusing random strangers online for having an opinion about our beloved Bhai. And we won’t stop calling him Bhai, Bhaijaan and every other word that bestows respect and places him on a pedestal. Because what good will that do? A few people boycotting his releases will barely make a dent in any films’ earnings. Opinionated people will be trolled and attacked on social media. And people trying to protest even in the smallest ways will be forced to go into hibernation.
And he is every bit the hero we need. Only on screen. Polite, chivalrous, respectful and mature. He is a delight to watch, even with his heeled shoes and two left feet. He’s charming, entertaining and sometimes the only reason a film is worth watching.
But Salman, as much as we love you, it’s high time you took responsibility for your mistakes. For youngsters are learning from you, not your on screen avatars. Because you’re being watched, and while you may never pay for what’s transpired, you may be remembered for all the wrong reasons. And as your fans, we’d hate for that to happen to you.