Published On: Wed, Nov 25th, 2015

Amir Khan is Paying Heavy Price for His Wife’s Fears

aamir khan bollywood - india intolerance

By Aasef Chauhdry

Recently, the legendary Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, while talking at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, joined the debate of rising intolerance in India by giving a most alarming statement and said, “(Wife) Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm. You feel why this is happening, you feel low. That sense does exist in me.”

This seems to have come out of nowhere. In fact, his message of ‘intolerance’ has quickly become quite ‘intolerable’ for a lot of us. Daljit aka DJ of Rang De Basanti fought against injustice and gave up his life. As host of Satyamev Jayate, the Khan criticised corruption and urged Indians to fight it alongside him. And remember Bhuvan in Lagaan? That poor fellow, along with his village men fought against the arrogant officers of the British Empire.

And what does the real Aamir decide to do? Leave the ‘Incredible India’ he’s so far been promoting! The bajrang-dal-protesters-agaiactor who has always been vocal about bringing change in India is now thinking of changing his postal address. Aamir Khan, who has been born and brought up in India, today feels insecure in his very own country. If there’s one actor who’s had smooth sailing in the film industry, it’s been Aamir. He has never been called a Pakistani agent by Hindu radicals (unlike other actors we know). He never had to assert his ‘Indian-ness’ (unlike Sania Mirza). However, now the Superstar Aamir Khan’s comments on growing intolerance have not only create fury among the radical Modi followers but have provoked sharp reactions on Twitter with his industry colleagues Anupam Kher and Ram Gopal Varma, also who are asking “When did ‘Incredible India’ become ‘Intolerant India’ for you”.

Suddenly those colleagues who were keeping their 50 years old friend very close to their hearts have turned against him for speaking truth. Anupam Kher, who shared screen space with Aamir in “Dil”, “Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin” among others, hit out at him saying, “India has made him what he is”. Not only this, Anupam in fact sent him a tweet as well,saying, “”Dear @aamir_khan. Did you ask Kiran which country would she like to move out to? Did you tell her that this country has made you AAMIR KHAN. Did you tell Kiran that you have lived through worse times in this country but you never thought of moving out?”

Aamir Khan’s comments on growing intolerance have provoked mixed responses on various media forums and public. While several of his industry colleagues have hit out at the actor, many people, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, have also come out in support of the actor. Nevertheless, the extremist Hindus have lashed out at him madly and have made comments like, “Go and live in Pakistan; I will buy you the ticket if you want to take the first flight out of India; how dare you criticise the country that has given you so much”. For disturbing evidence of our growing intolerance to criticism and freedom of expression, you need to look beyond such bitter, unstable reactions to actor Aamir Khan’s statement that his wife Kiran Rao suggested leaving India.

Aamir Khan has every right to express his fears, to share his concerns. Frankly, any Indian would have battled with private demons after being treated the way Aamir Khan was after the release of PK. Bollywood films have successfully ridiculed god men before, most recently in Oh My God! But PK hit the screens after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) came to power last year on the wings of a strong popular mandate for its leader, Nar1endra Modi, hence Amir Khan had to face the music and as a result, newly empowered radical Hindu organisations affiliated to the BJP pounced on PK after its release. Nationwide protests were being organised outside cinemas, even vandalising a few and forcing some to cancel screenings.

Currently poor Amir Khan is in a great fix and paying for his straight forwardness and honesty through his nose. The reaction of hostile crowds outside his residence and elsewhere in India condemning him confirm his wife Kiran Rao’s thoughts about feeling unsafe in India. The life of a common Muslim in India is becoming difficult with every coming day. One can understand that if a person of Amir Khan’s stature can become unsafe in intolerant India then what could be the fate of lower class Muslims of this sham secular country of the world?

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