At around midnight on Monday, I came across a Salman Khan tweet. Yes, @beingsalmankhan. The actor tweeted his grief over the death of former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Salman rued that he could never meet the great man despite having a great desire to do so. Well, unlike his previous tweets, there weren’t too many replies or likes to it. Well, at least, for the few minutes that I checked his twitter handle.
Honestly, speaking, after the furore over his earlier tweets, the actor must be relieved that there was a mild response to his tweets on Abdul Kalam.
Two days back, Salman made national headlines for expressing his views on the impending hanging of Yakub Memon, a convict in the 1993 Mumbai Blasts case.
Khan went on a twitter spree stating that it should be Tiger Memon, and not his brother Yakub, who should be hanged. He urged the Prime Minister of Pakistan to hand over Tiger Memon, if the architect of this heinous crime, one who is being sheltered in Pakistan. Salman equated Tiger to a lomri (fox) who had made the kill but then escaped to Pakistan.
Phew! Long tweets they were, but the one that took the nation by rage was, ‘Hang Tiger, not Yakub’. Well, well, well! Now that’s a recipe for disaster, especially if you’re a Muslim, and one who’s himself mired in legal cases. For all his fanfare at the boxoffice, Bhai was easily going to be trolled on twitter. Most twitteratis slammed the actor for supporting a terrorist, insulting the Supreme Court’s verdict, and by and large, bringing shame to the nation.
Those who support Salman’s freedom of expression were hurled with abuses. Clearly, there was no escaping the wrath of nationalistic twitteratis.
This writer though refused to follow the herd. Not that I supported Salman’s views, but for the first time I was pleasantly surprised that Salman Khan was talking sense. Unlike the buffoonery that he displays on the screen, Salman Khan was simply being Salman Khan. Rather it was un-Salman like to comment on a sensitive issue.
Well, I may not entirely agree with him, but Salman, like anyone of us, does enjoy freedom of expression. And for the first time, the actor appeared to be using his brains rather than his heart or brawn. What wrong did he really say? Don’t we all know that the criminal masterminds of Mumbai Blasts are rejoicing in Pakistan? Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon should be the first ones to be hanged. Haven’t we Indians been saying that for over 20 years? The actor was even brave enough to appeal to Pakistani PM to handover Tiger Memon.
Now was Salman being unreasonable with his tweets?
Absolutely not. While he did err with a few words, but Khan should be praised for commenting on such a vital issue. Often, Bollywood stars, including the legends shy away from expressing their views on topics of national importance. Most simply excuse themselves by saying, “Sorry, it would be unfair on my part to comment on something which I really don’t know much of.”
If you look at Salman’s tweets in totality, the actor has thrown light on few valid points. But to spread your message across, it’s vital to use the right words. Sadly, diplomacy is not Salman’s forte and he erred badly in his choice of words.
Unfortunately, fearing backlash, the actor retracted his statement saying that he never said that Yakub Memon wasn’t guilty. Salman’s father Salim was quick to douse the flames, by saying that his son’s comments were meaningless and he was completely ignorant about the subject at hand.
Last Sunday, I watched Salman on Comedy Nights with Kapil reminiscing his childhood days, how he peed out of fear, upon being whacked by his disciplinarian father. Then Salim Khan used a folded newspaper to whack his children. Well, guess, even though Salman’s now nearing 50, perhaps, Salim Khan would feel the need to do the same Only this time, the newspaper should give way to a cane.