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Indian Idols

Friday, November 27, 2015
By Deepa Gahlot

A lot of space in all media has been expended on Aamir Khan’s statement about wanting to leave the country, so much so that he had to issue a rebuttal and emphasise his love for the country.

It’s still a free country and people can say whatever they want and other people have an equal right to protest. The problem here is that our film crazy population has put stars on a pedestal and then want them to behave the way they deem fit. They have to always be dressed well, look glamorous, live blameless (in the eyes of their fans) lives and parrot politically correct opinions. These days, it is even more important to be careful before saying anything, because of the online trolling and offline idiocy.

Aamir has got more flack than normal for something that so many people must have felt and said several times, but Aamir has to wear his patriotism on his sleeve and wave the flag conspicuously at every occasion possible—one because he is a star who is believed to be different from the others in intelligence and social responsibility, and two because he is a Muslim.

Aamir has, in his films, TV show and offscreen appearances projected himself as a thinking actor, who has well informed opinions on major issues. He has, in the past, faced a boycott in Gujarat, for supporting the Narmada Bachao Andolan. But this time, he said the wrong thing at the wrong time, or, at least reported as having done so.

Rishi Kapoor made the most sense when he tweeted:  Mr & Mrs Aamir Khan, when things are going wrong and the system needs correction, repair it, mend it. Don’t run away from it.  That is heroism!

Because people expect film heroes to be heroic in real life too – and this is an unrealistic expectation—they would expect a star of Aamir’s power to somehow find a way to help them cope with the situation, not leave them in the lurch and escape to a safer place (though, where that might be is tough to say!) Why they should want people who play parts for a living step off screen and rescue them from whatever crisis they are facing is baffling. But then over the last few years, stars are increasingly taking on public roles, whether as political (and commercial) brand ambassadors or public service messengers, appearing at media and marketing summits, making fiery speeches (mostly ghost written); people emulate not just what they wear, eat, read, listen to,  but also what they think.  It’s that tragedy of the country that its people cannot find other heroes or heroines other than film stars. But then their idols should not be condemned for having feet of clay!

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