Indian Decade

When an Icon Fails

In an ex-fan’s eyes, while one Indian superstar rises, another falls.

If the recent controversy between the Hindi film Star Sharukh Khan, and Mumbai-based Hindu fundamentalist group Shiv Sena’s catapulted SRK (Shahrukh Khan) into the biggest icon of Bollywood category, one man who seems to be have lost face in the whole spectacle is superstar Amitabh Bachhan. While SRK stood his ground despite repeated threats by the goons and leaders of the rabid group to disrupt his new release, My Name is Khan, in Mumbai and took the fringe fanatic group head-on, Big B (as Amitabh is popularly called) was singing paeans in his blog for the chief of the Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray, calling him resolute and firm and praising his sense of humour.

This praise for a hardcore fundamentalist leader comes on the heels of his newfound friendship with another such leader and the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who is accused of leading a genocide against the Muslim minority in his state in 2002 that killed more than 2000 people and displaced thousands, creating a deep wedge between Hindu and Muslim in the state. Big B’s acts have not gone down well with the right-thinking people of India. A leading English magazine even came up with the front page caption ‘A Man with No Conviction’ for the star.

This sums up the popular mood in India against a man who has been one of the biggest icons in India for almost two generations. I’ve grown up watching his movies, learnt to be rebellious against a system which perpetuates injustice by watching his histrionics and even used to sport his hairstyle despite my father’s and teachers’ ranting. But now something within me rebels against the very idea of watching his new release and I feel really let down by the man for whom I stole money from my father’s pocket to go see, bunked classes in school to catch his latest release and performed rather poorly in my school exams as a result.

It pains me when an icon fails.