Looks like we are in the news again! The film people, especially the stars and their families somehow always stir up the media, electronic as well as the print. But, most of all, their deeds, if they involve government agencies, dominate the social media, which is more vocal and hence powerful. The stars do crave for attention and the media needs them as much, too. They even spend big bucks to get attention but, at times, there comes a media glare that puts them in a spot. Unfortunately, at such times too they end up buying space. Know what I mean if you check the entertainment and info media pages of the last few days.
Aryan Khan, the 23-year-old son of Shah Rukh Khan, along with his friends, has been accused of using banned drugs at a rave party while on a Goa-Mumbai cruise liner. Nobody or just a few would know or care to know the names of those others who have also been arrested. As far as the media, including the social media is concerned, the news would mean nothing if a star or a star son was not involved.
As the story goes, there was a tip off to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) about a rave drug party slated to take place on a cruise liner. The NCB personnel traveled on the same cruise pretending to be fellow revelers and, in due time, raided the rave party. One of those involved in the party happened to be Aryan Khan, the son of actor Shah Rukh Khan. All hell broke loose as the news spread.
Shah Rukh always knew how to use media to his own advantage. There were three Khans in contention during his time and he got himself branded as King Khan, making sure it was picked up and duly amplified by the media. So far so good. All is fair in competition. But, making comments just to stand out from others to sound, kind of, hep, modern, open-minded and so on can have implications.
Shah Rukh Khan with wife Gauri Khan was being interviewed on the popular TV show, on Star TV. When asked by the anchor, Simi Garewal, if he will spoil his son, Shah Rukh had replied with something to the effect that he had told his son when he was barely three-years-old that he can go ahead and have sex, do drugs and enjoy life. Of course, the proud mother, Gauri, had intervened to say that the son was three-years-and-two-months!. Now that the son has decided to live up to the advice, so be it. To his credit, it must be told that, at least, Shah Rukh, is not seen in any media or TV channels, lamenting his son’s arrest or defending him. Well, the son also needs to learn the implications of things he does.
Shah Rukh Khan may have hogged the headlines in the media hundreds of times, both paid and merited. His son Aryan made the headlines for the first time, well ahead of his time and all for a wrong reason. But, if he wishes, he can make headlines again all his life, and turn what is happening now into an experience while growing up.
Take the case of Sanjay Dutt, for example. Sanjay was convicted for his involvement in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts and convicted for the possession of arms. He was found guilty and sentenced. He spent his time in jail. Anywhere else, any other profession or business, the man would have been branded, distanced socially as well as in business. But, Sanjay came back to films as a celebrity! The people, moviegoers as well as others did not only forgive him but, in fact, sympathized with him. He was ‘Bichara Sanju!’
Similar has been the case with Salman Khan, accused of causing deaths of footpath dwellers while driving under the influence of alcohol in Mumbai one late night. He is also an accused of being involved in another case of hunting black buck during a film shooting outing in Rajasthan. It has been years now, he has been in and out of jail. But, people have nothing but sympathy for him. In fact, he has given some of his biggest hits during this period of braving court visits and spending some days in jail. Earlier, late actor Raaj Kumar, enjoying a huge following for his stylized acting and dialogue delivery, while working for the police force, had caused the death of a person. He had to attend his shootings taking leave from custody. Thereafter, he went on to build a successful acting career.
Aryan Khan can be certain, such hiccups will never haunt him in life were he to choose a career in films! In film business, especially for a star, such things don’t matter because, they don’t matter to the masses.
As for people who try to justify what Aryan was indulging in, it is strange. Nobody says, Hey, kid, okay you made a mistake. Try to get over it or some such. Instead, the reactions are: Oh, he is only 23, a kid. Now, whoever defines a 23-year-old as a kid is a juvenile himself! In fact, when Shah Rukh Khan did his first few assignments like Wagle Ki Duniya, Dil Dariya and Fauji (which earned him popularity) on television, he was 23 himself! And, by the time he came up with his first super hit, Deewana, along with Rishi Kapoor and Divya Bharti, his 28th birthday was celebrated on the sets of the film.
The other aspect of the film industry is jumping to the defense of another star or kin. Any such case or a death in a filmy family, the condolences and funeral attendance depend on how successful is his or her survivor, not what the deceased’s own merits were. There are numerous examples.
So, some like Suniel Shetty, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan (he has issued a sermon for Aryan) and others have jumped to either the defense of Aryan or condoled him or his father! Missing logic and commonsense, is it not? In simple words, it defines hypocrisy. Who is awarding brownie points here!
Then there are those calling it ‘singling out of Aryan’ just because he is a star son! Is it? There are others who have been taken in by the law for the same case. But, your sympathies are limited to Aryan Khan and, they may be 23 or 21 or whatever more, but how do you care? You don’t know them because they are not star kids and they don’t matter, do they? In fact, those who say such things are singling out Aryan and drawing attention to him!
And, if it is any consolation, over the last few years, the biggest of film celebrities have hit the headlines for drugs issues. The investigations nets spread around biggest of names in the film industry. These matters have a tendency to evaporate soon. Has any celebrity ever been jailed in a drugs-related case?
(Vinod Mirani is a veteran film writer and box office analyst. The views expressed are personal)