Indian Decade

Unwanted Support

Shah Rukh Khan’s interventions into politics are unhelpful and maybe a bit naive.

Just following on from what Shreyasi had to say about Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan–known as SRK–who upset right-wing Hindu fundamentalist group Shiv Sena for his unabashed love for Pakistan. The group issued a ‘fatwa’ over the film, but Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray ended up making a fool of himself in part because of internal divisions and a no-holds-barred turf war with his estranged nephew Raj Thackeray, who is now a potent political foe.

Domestic politics aside, though, SRK’s comments are worth a closer look. It all started when Pakistani cricket players were not selected for the Indian premier League’s third edition. SRK said in a TV news interview: ‘It (Pakistan) is a great neighbour to have. We (India and Pakistan) are great neighbours. They are good neighbours.’

SRK had already stirred up a hornet’s several month’s back by issuing a ‘clarification’ of remarks by the Pakistani cricket team captain, Shoaib Malik, who had publicly apologized to Muslims all over the world for failing to win the final T20 match against India. SRK embarrassed by leaping to explain what he thought Malik had meant: ‘I don’t think he meant to segregate Muslims and Christians and Hindus and say this was a match between Islam and Hinduism. I don’t think that…’ Clearly, SRK ‘The Over-reacher’ had taken it upon himself to respond on somebody else’s behalf.

Such statements prompted an avalanche of protests, with many seeing SRK as speaking as part of a Muslim brotherhood and on behalf of a country seen by many in India as having inflicted three wars.

But this all begs the question: is SRK being politically naïve or trying to don the mantle of peacemaker between India and Pakistan. Or is he simply unnecessarily poking his nose into issues he should have steered clear of? It won’t win him much appreciation when time after time questions are raised following terrorist attacks about the possible role of Pakistan, its terror bases and its terrorist organizations, be it directly or indirectly.