The Curious Case of Salman Khan

This article is in making for like years in my head. This week, verdict on Salman Khan was out and he was sentenced for 5 years jail on account of being guilty in poaching of a blackbuck in 1998.

Firstly, let me put a disclaimer that I am not really a Salman Khan fan and would be fair to say that I dislike him for numerous reasons. However, I’ll try to be as objective as possible in unfolding my perception of this verdict and all controversies Salman Khan has been part of.
Here, the time which was taken to resolve this case. 20 years. That is a low even after considering average time people have to wait for justice. With all due respect to honorary court and even after considering nationwide shortage of capable judges and support staff for judiciary, the fact can not be ignored that this is definitely a case of ‘justice delayed’.
Well, this is not the first time Salman is appearing in the court. He was recently acquitted from charges of drink and drive case, where he ran his car over 6 people sleeping on footpath. That was the case which completely spoiled his reputation in the nation’s intellects.
The way events had taken place in that case are remembered by everyone who is in their late twenties or more. That was one of those surprising case where testimony of a policeman was ignored and the police official was later suspended, put in jail and died an early death out of TB, spending his last days on street.
Salman kept on claiming that his driver was driving the car. Entire country was watching the verdict results on TV and many didn’t buy that argument because it didn’t make sense to them.
If your job is to drive a car and you somehow end with your car on footpath, crushing below 6 sleeping men on a cold night and empty roads, I would say, you suck at it !
Was Salman who can afford best and most dependable drivers in the city had that bad driver ? We will never know..
And hey, one of the reason rich people hire chauffeurs is, for events where they can get drunk and still their and others’ safety won’t be compromised.
I don’t think anyone would have bought that argument. However, court can give its decision by proofs and statements produced in front of it.
With not enough proof of being guilty, Salman was eventually acquitted of charges.
And now, the black buck case, where he was accused of hunting 2 black bucks during a film shooting in Rajasthan in 1998. He was given 5 years jail, 20 years after the infamous incident, during these years Salman has cemented his legacy as a Bollywood star with the best box office collection. His fan base has seen exponential growth and watching his film released on Eid is a new cult in metro cities. His PR team is extremely strong and his influence in the Bollywood is better than almost everyone.

Here are 2 points which I would like everyone to understand Salman as an actor..

1. Salman’s influence in the industry is quite remarkable considering Bollywood as a ‘business’. There is no denial that his films have broken box office records in earnings
    and along with his very successful shows like Big Boss, he has been a major influence for bringing business to the industry.
2. However, if I consider Bollywood as an ‘art’ industry his contribution would be average. Call me an elitist, but I believe because everyone watches something or likes something doesn’t necessarily make it good. All Salman movies have one common thread, he is always better, braver, larger than life on the screen.. which I truly hate as a cinephile.

His like Dabang, Dabang 2, Veer, Hello, Bodyguard.. Those films created a cult and an audience which didn’t even realized that their taste and their right to watch something fruitful after paying multiplex ticket is taken for granted.

Of course he is not alone to be criticized about this and Bollywood’s other Stars and film makers also have their fair share in deteriorating quality of Bollywood films.
Let me know dig deeper in that, that is a topic for a whole new article.

Now let’s tackle the killer question here…

 

Why Salman is so hated and loved ?

 

 Salman is loved because..

Very Strong PR

As I mentioned earlier, he has an excellent PR team. Which has worked relentlessly in improving his reputation in the audience,
may it be social media or real life, portraying Salman as a loving, caring guy with an aura has worked probably better than the
team asked for.

Body Builder Salman

He started the insane idea where every hero should have a well toned body.
Remember days when only Salman had that rich muscled and toned torso and his films used to have scripts where he can flaunt it at least once in the film ?
He pioneered that perfect body hero concept which has taken over film industry by now. All teenagers saw him as the only ‘macho’ man in those days, they would be reluctant to accept that six-pack is a cliché in industry now.

Films released on EID

Accept it or not, releasing films on auspicious occasion of eid has worked wonders for him. Salman is by far more connected to Muslim community than any other
superstar in the industry due to this. At the same time, Salman brings home ‘Ganpati’ every year and his father Salim Khan is a well-known progressive Muslim intellect.
This has also kept his reputation as a secular.

Charity

Salman Khan founded ‘Being Human’; a charitable trust which works upon education and healthcare of underprivileged children. Under 2 initiatives names Akshara and Aseema, around 500 children are benefited to take education which they could not have afforded otherwise.
in healthcare sector ‘Being Human’ has funded heart surgeries for children. Its annual revenue is 3 Crore which comes from online and offline sell of ‘Being Human’ watches and Tshirts. Let me give credit where credit is due. That is a commendable work.

Unmarried

Salman,52, never got married. He had his name linked up with several Bollywood actresses many times.
The fact that he is unmarried has helped him elevate his ‘Bhai’ image in the singles and college goers.

Salman is hated because…

Unruly behavior

Apart from being engaged in multiple court cases, Salman is no shy to Bollywood controversies.
Salman verbally talked rubbish with Aishwarya Rai after their break-up in 2002, as per Rai’s interview to TOI.
Later on, such claims were also made by Vivek Oberoi, another Bollywood celebrity.
He also had found himself in the controversies over his comments over 26/11 attack and Yakub’s death penalty.

Being Human

His charity work is also a reason he has faced backlash for. Numerically speaking, many organizations in Maharashtra itself have worked on more ground root level
for underprivileged and in more adverse conditions. Many of them have spent decades and we have activists devoting full-time for such noble causes. However,
Salman’s charity work has been given quite more publicity as he is Bollywood superstar and his influence and fan base has widespread his philanthropist image
at early stage of his organization.
The fact that his charity work started in 2007, after his image deteriorated in court cases, people also see this charity as a PR act to improve his image.
I will refrain myself from making any comment on this if it is true or not as we won’t know for sure, however, one thing is definitely true that his charity work has worked
like a double-edged sword for him. Earning him fans and haters.

Bollywood Big Boss

 It is said that one just can’t survive in Bollywood industry standing against Salman. His longevity, influence and sheer amount of money he can bring to the box office has made every new star impossible to take stand against him whatsoever. His recent discord with Arjit Singh is testimony of this.

Personification of Injustice

I have saved the most important reason for the last. Because I knew what is going to happen. When I started writing this article, Salman was sentenced for 5 years imprisonment. By the time I reached end of the article, he has been granted bail.
Most of the Salman haters hate him not necessarily as a person. They hate what he represents. 
They look at Salman Khan as an example of how law and enforcement can be outsmarted by the rich.
Both court cases of Salman Khan had suspicious events. Prime witness Police constable Ravindra Patil was suspended from duty, his testimony was ignored and he died before the case was finally over after Salman was acquitted of all charges in Dec 2015. This case too took 13 years.
In Blackbuck hunting case, the judge who announced verdict on him found himself transferred to other court within 48 hours. Coincidence ? It could be..
But I believe in probability.. 😛
All the hate Salman Khan receives comes from the fact that people of the country who saw/read about crimes he was accused of and the fact that he got away with them as ‘Not Guilty’ in one and bailed out in other, has steered a negativity about judiciary in the India.
Common man is more afraid of legal actions which could be taken against her\him if he does anything wrong than anything else. Such cases make that common man believe that law is not same for poor-middle class and the rich.
‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’
George Orwell’s simple line becomes a bitter pill of harsh reality to swallow for an average Indian citizen.
Common man of this country who thrives to feed his family, looks at such court cases over celebrities as not only a verdict on the accused but also a judgement on judiciary. The stupid common man who is not forgiven for forgetting his helmet or PUC receipt finds out that a film star is accused of running over people sleeping on footpath and is acquitted of all charges eventually, his obvious reaction is not to trust the verdict’s legitimacy. Transfer of judges is beyond reach of common man.
When such things are observed in case of a celebrity, common man tends to believe in manipulation of justice.
May be Salman was never guilty, in either case. May be he was innocent all the time. But the fact remains that tide of the court cases which would have taken small ships of common men to the ocean bottom, couldn’t dent Titanic of a wealthy celebrity. It has rather lifted him up on a nationwide sympathy ride.
My Verdict :- 
 I have praise for Salman’s charity work, irrespective of whether it is a PR gimmick or not.
However, I have acute criticism for the way he has conducted himself in social life in his past years and also for many average films he has been part of. As an actor, when you don’t need to earn money for living, I would expect him to experiment and put his skill on the test rather than presenting same stuff in different package.

As a person, If he is acquitted of all charges eventually, he should consider that as a rare chance he is given and conduct himself in a way which should gain praise from his hard critics as well.

Charity is a service best delivered in absence of buzz. 

If found guilty, I don’t think he should be given an exception due to his social service as it will set a wrong precedence.
“The way the accused killed two innocent black bucks in violation of the wildlife laws…he is a film star, people emulate him and look up to him ..” exact quotes by the judge who sentenced Salman for 5 years.
May that be a lesson for every celebrity out there.
When thousands of eyes are watching your dance, you can’t afford a wrong step. 
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