Salman Khan's veiled admissions in past show he foresaw conviction in blackbuck poaching case
Salman Khan’s superstardom and massive following amongst Indians has not prevented him from being given a five-year jail sentence for shooting a blackbuck, a rare and protected antelope in Rajasthan. Ironically, Khan, who has been declared not guilty of a hit and run case, will now have to spend a night in jail for the killing of this animal before his case goes to appeal.
Salman’s constant run-ins with the law and endless litigation seem to have worn the actor out, and has impacted his life at multiple levels. Often, through veiled responses to eager interviewers, or while talking to the media, the superstar has referred to the weariness that he feels and fatalism that has set in with his legal troubles. His potential jail term has been one of his life’s biggest burdens.
Someone who responds to controversial questions with tongue-in-cheek humor, or sharp sarcasm, Salman has stayed consistent on his explanation of what happened twenty years ago. Stating that his co-stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam Kothari and Sonali Bendre were returning after having wrapped up shooting for Hum Saath-Saath Hain, Salman had told a leading news channel (NDTV) in 2009, “ One day, while driving by after pack up, we saw a blackbuck that was stuck in a bush. The whole herd was there too. It was really scared. It was petrified. We fed it biscuits. We had packed up early that day and had come back by around 5 to 5:30 PM.”
Yet in 2008, a year earlier, Salman had confessed to Koel Purie on India Today, “I was not the one who shot,” adding that there was “a long story there.” During the same interview, he had cryptically stated, “I am not the kind to start crying in front of the TV camera. If I have to go to jail, I will go with a blank face because that's my destiny and if possible, only I can change it. If I had done any uncool thing, I know I will have to suffer. But if I haven't I know I will get out of it."
Salman’s veiled references to being innocent of shooting the blackbuck has led to much speculation as to who else could have done it. During the course of a conversation off record, the author had remarked about the case to Saif Ali Khan. The princely star withdrew from an engaging conversation immediately, wearing a stone-faced expression and reiterating that it was unfortunate. One could not get a word beyond that.
And yet, Salman has never stated the name of a perpetrator. Not in the courtroom either, when he has stated that he is innocent, and that he had admitted to the crime under police pressure back in 1998. It boggles one’s mind to imagine that he would take on so much pressure and the burden of a long drawn out court battle if he is not guilty.
The superstar has often remarked sarcastically on the sensationalist nature of media coverage. When his kite flying photo opportunity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter’s prime ministerial campaign had hit headlines, Khan was quick to denounce any political favors or leanings for the PM. His father is known to be a good friend but Salman himself, did not pander to populist sentiment. For a man that could benefit from powerful political favor, his neutrality is admirable.
Perhaps the only times when Salman has expressed his anguish with his situation in the blackbuck case is when he answered questions about his marital status. Salman has often been repeatedly asked about when he might tie the knot, especially by Hindi news channels. His annoyed expression would often be a promo played on loop, to gain TRPs. But Salman has deflected this question steadily. People who have closely interacted with the superstar have stated that he did not want to commit to a marriage for he did not know if someday, he might go to jail. In hindsight, Salman could have made a personal choice to stay unmarried because this blackbuck case has stretched out to 20 years and he never had clarity on what the future might bring.
His penchant for charity is well known. With the Being Human Foundation, Salman made his charitable initiatives into an organised process. Skeptics have always mulled over the fact that publicising his charity efforts helped dilute the verdict on the hit-and-run case in Salman’s favor. That a legal process could be so affected seems a bit far-fetched. But Salman’s generosity towards those in need, his friends and close circle and also his family, has been his way of doing penance. A commonly held belief, that giving to those in need will help dilute one’s sins, Salman does consider some of his past doings as incorrect and has referred to them with a tone of regret.
This piece is NOT written in favor of Salman Khan, far from it. It is a reflection over a conflicted and highly successful person’s state of mind. It is never easy to know what a movie star feels given the multiple layers of publicists and managers, and various advisers. But Salman’s remarks in public and amongst his friends do indicate that the superstar has resignedly accepted that some day, a life behind bars, might become a reality for him.
Follow the LIVE updates of the blackbuck poaching case here.
Updated Date: Apr 07, 2018 11:35:14 IST