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There is a term in Greek theatre, hamartia which means some kind of an inborn flaw in a human being, a flaw that leads the one affected into a series of controversies and sometimes leads him or her to a major crisis. If there is one man to whom this term applies in this industry, it is our own Sallu Bhai aka the superstar Salman Khan.

If one goes back into the life of Salman Khan, it will get clear that he has been facing one controversy after another and it goes to his credit that he has survived and rules supreme in spite of all that he has gone through.

It all started for him when he abused and threatened a news photographer on the sets of one of his early films SURYAVANSHI for taking pictures of his face smeared with blood (artificial). The incident was taken seriously by the media of the times and it decided to impose a ban on him. No photograph of his was taken at any event at which he was present and there were times that the media even asked producers in whose films he was the hero asked him to be out of the frame if the photograph had to be published. This unusual war went on for quite some time and was lifted only when the Rajshris made a request to the media to settle the matter and his photographs were published after a long gap for the promotions of Rajshri’s HUM AAPKE HAI KOUN.

This was only the beginning for Salman who it seems was destined to face many more controversies in his life and career. He was the “darling” of the gossip and yellow press because of all his “affairs” with some of the most beautiful women.

It was followed by the hit and run case in 2002 when his Land Rover rammed on to a pavement where people were sleeping, killing one and injuring others. The case dragged on for fourteen years till he was acquitted last year. It was a judgment of the Court which was the subject of whispering campaigns all over.

Then there was the case of the killing of the Chinkara’s in Jodhpur in which he was the main accused together with stars like Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and others. It is more than fifteen years now and the case against him has not made any significant progress.

He got into trouble again when he made a statement against Yakub Memon, an accused in the Bombay bomb blasts case and called him “innocent”. Yakub was hanged soon after Salman made his controversial statement.

And now when he has crossed the age of fifty, he has done it again, consciously or unconsciously, using words and an analogy he didn’t realize would get him into one more heap of controversy. He was describing his gruelling shoots in his upcoming film, “Sultan” and while he was all excited about the hard work he had put in to play the wrestler in the film, he said, “working on my scenes were so gruelling that after they were over, I felt like a woman who is raped. I walked like a woman who had been raped”

Hardly had his unwanted statement appeared on one of the many insignificant channels that he was in the thick of a smouldering fire. He could have been more careful in using his tongue and could have compared his hard work in any other way, but he had to be controversy’s favourite child and that was what the media and several organisations representing women like the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the Maharashtra State Commission for Women protest vehemently. Crowds of angry women stood outside his house in Bandra and shouted out slogans against him and demanding an apology for the “wild statement he had made which was a gross insult to women”.

The statement Salman made was “breaking news” and made headlines of newspapers all day long. He could have stopped the issue from growing into a raging fire by using his tongue to heal and he could do it by just apologising for what he had said, but that did not happen and all those for the upholding of the dignity of women are baying for the blood of the same “Sallu Bhai” who was their BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN only till this controversy erupted. The burning issue created by his statement under circumstances only he knows has taken a serious turn with the Maharashtra State Commission for Women has asked him to appear before it or be represented by his lawyer on June 29th with an explanation.

What is also of significance is the fact that none of the industry’s leaders or his colleagues condemned what he has gone on record to say. One senior filmmaker even went on to say that he was “as innocent as a child” and had “the greatest respect for women”. Others either had no comments to make, not even the bold and courageous ones who otherwise scream their lungs out at any time of crisis, but fulminated with words which made no sense this way or that way this time.

It is high time our mighty stars realized that they are worshiped by millions who look up to them as idols and ideals follow the right path and resist anything that can show them in a bad light. It is time they realized their responsibilities as models for people to follow.

They will have to know once and for all that the tongue is a powerful two-sided weapon. It can heal but it can also hurt in the most painful ways. It is for them to realize this sweet but bitter truth. It is also high time that they realized that they cannot shoot of their tongues as they wish. The sooner they learn their lessons from this one bitter experience of one big star gone wrong the better. Trade Magazine



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