Sunday, 1 August 2021

Kind Khan on not being like Meryl: I’m an actor, not a vocal leader

MUMBAI: When multiple Oscar-winning actor and living legend Meryl Streep took the stage at the 74th Golden Globe Awards ceremony, little did she know that her speech against US President-elect Donald Trump would make pundits back in India criticise Indian actors and celebrities for not being politically vocal and honest. In her much-celebrated (and criticised) speech, Meryl Streep, on winning the Cecil B. DeMille Award, spoke against Donald Trump and rebuked him for his ways, in particular, his mockery of New York Times’ disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski at a Republican rally. “It kind of broke my heart when I saw it,” Streep said, “and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was in real life. That instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in a public platform, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for others to do the same.” Now, in a recent interview published in Hindustan Times, when Shah Rukh Khan was asked why stars wouldn’t talk about “real issues” in India, Shah Rukh said that he would go ahead and say something only if the journalist he speaks to would put across his views exactly as they are, without adding or deleting anything.

“Get me a top TV journalist who puts my views across as they are, without trying to add their own point of view. Then I would say something. I have said it before, and I rue the day I said it (shared my opinions.) It is about how much views are put across, which is very sad. And then the same people ask, ‘Why doesn’t Shah Rukh Khan say anything?’ No, I won’t say anything. You say it, but you can’t tell me what to say,” Shah Rukh was quoted as saying. To put things in context, back in 2015, when Shah Rukh appealed to Indians to preserve and uphold secularism, a massive hate campaign was launched all across India to paint Shah Rukh as an intolerant anti-national and harm the box-office collections of his film Dilwale, which had released just after the controversy. “Religious intolerance and not being secular is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot,” is what Shah Rukh had said which got him into trouble. Now, Shah Rukh is in no mood to invite trouble when trouble is all the more out there, looking for easy targets like him. Regarding Meryl Streep’s speech, Shah Rukh said, “You like Meryl Streep so much, run her tape. God bless you; you have Meryl Streep saying it, so why do you want someone else to say the same thing? Why do you want to be a copycat like you always have been? It’s stupid.”

When asked about his opinions on whether Streep did the right thing, SRK said, “I think Meryl Streep said a wonderful thing. We all have to be like that, and I am not talking about just artistes. Also, whenever something happens somewhere, they are like, ‘Why isn’t Shah Rukh Khan commenting on it?’ But I don’t want to. I am an actor, main koi vocal leader thodi na hoon (I am not a vocal leader, right?). So, what the lady said is marvellous. She found a platform and she found people who appreciated what she said. In India, everybody has so many opinions that they want to pick on something others say.” Interestingly, Shah Rukh had some choice words for Indian journalists vis-a-vis American journalists. Hear him out. “I think journalism in the US is different. Journalists there became stars and are now past that stage. And so did I when I was 10 years into stardom. I have reached a stage in life where stardom is taken for granted. Indian journalists are the new stars. When they are used to it (stardom), I will speak my mind, as I know that they will then – like real stars – treat it (what I say) with respect,” said Shah Rukh. Shah Rukh is returning on the big screen very soon with Rahul Dholakia’s Raees on January 25. The gangster film also stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Pakistani actor Mahira Khan.

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