Dissent of Twinkle Khanna's auction of Akshay Kumar's Rustom naval costume is naive and misplaced

Prakash Katoch

Apr 30, 2018 15:51:57 IST

The news of Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar being trolled for announcing the decision to auction the naval uniform worn by Akshay Kumar in Rustom, the movie for which he won a National Award, has been hot news past two days. But to see a debate on the issue on a prominent TV channel and witness some of the veterans airing squalid views, intentional or unintentional, was unexpected. In fact, had the TV bothered to check the antecedents of a particular troll crying blue murder on social media, which are well known in many circles, the debate could perhaps have been avoided.

Dissent of Twinkle Khannas auction of Akshay Kumars Rustom naval costume is naive and misplaced

Akshay Kumar in a still from Rustom. YouTube

As per reports, the information about the auction was first posted by Akshay Kumar on social media himself. This was followed by a post from Twinkle Khanna on  all her social media handles that the naval uniform her husband Akshay Kumar wore in the movie Rustom will be going up for auction, and that the proceeds from the auction will go towards the cause of animal welfare. The auction reportedly is being organised by the website SaltScout, which has already received a bid for Rs 5 crore.

Some of the flak against the auction is centred around: One, uniforms and flags need respect and auction to raise money is unacceptable;  two, uniforms are dear to soldiers and therefore cannot bought/sold; three, auction of uniform amounts to being “insensitive”; four, even if it is a movie costume, it “somehow” represents the Navy; five, auctioning a uniform for charity is a cheap initiative; six, uniform should not be auctioned because only someone worthy of wearing it should be able to own one; seven, the auction money should go for better cause than animal welfare; eight, uniform is not a piece of cloth for movie stars to make quick money; nine, permission to wear uniform comes from the office of President of India, and the like.

We are a free country with total freedom of expression (less the uniformed fraternity) but the threat of giving “bloody nose” to Twinkle indicates mentality of a village goon. But let us examine some of the aspects of this controversy, even as some are partly acknowledge by some trolls. First, there is a difference between a uniform a soldier wears and a duplicate or a costume that Akshay wore in Rustom. Second, Akshay did not serve in the Navy and is not selling its uniform. Third, even if Akshay had served in Navy and was selling that uniform, there have been plenty cases where veterans have sold their medals – even gallantry awards for some reasons; fourth, Akshay did not need the permission of the President of India to wear the naval uniform simply because it was a representational costume, not actual uniform; fifth, Armed Forces representational flags are sold, yes sold, on Armed Forces Flag Day; sixth, the National Flag is available for sale in run up to Independence Day and Republic Day even on road crossings/red lights; seventh, duplicate medals are being sold in the civil market in Delhi Cantonment, as also in many parts of the country, and same is the case for military uniforms, not combat dress alone.

The auction of a naval ‘costume’ in no way denigrates the naval ‘uniform’. It is a different issue that anyone who buys the ‘costume’ for the type of price mentioned above, will most likely give the ‘costume’ more honour than the actual ‘uniform’; but that is not the issue here. How many of the trolls who are up in arms against auction of Akshay’s Rustom costume, and how many veterans that are voicing dissent on TV have done so, when soldier’s uniform is being periodically disgraced in the country – and this is not only about stone-pelting and radical mobs physically attacking soldiers in the Kashmir Valley? How many of them have taken up blocking sales of medals and uniforms in civil markets? How many of them have taken up issue of wrong uniforms worn in movies and soaps?

For trolls who say that the auction money should go for better cause than animal welfare, perhaps would have been happier if the money went to Bharat Ke Veer run by Akshay Kumar to financially help the families of martyrs. But then charity is seamless, depending on how one views it. It should have been apparent from Bharat Ke Veer that Akshay, and by extension Twinkle, are no less nationalist than soldiers, and cannot mean disrespect to the soldier’s uniform.

The author is a retired lieutenant-general of the Indian Army.

Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 15:51:57 IST