Dear friends of Salman Khan, please do everyone a favour and stop tweeting
If you were on Twitter yesterday, the onslaught of tweets from celebrities following Salman Khan's verdict was difficult to survive.
Yesterday was a study in why some people should never have been taught to read, write or communicate with others. And no, I don’t think I’m being too harsh.
Superstar (he cannot be described as an ordinary Bollywood actor) Salman Khan was sentenced to five years in prison for running over five pavement dwellers, 12 years ago. Four of them were injured – leading to loss of limb in one; another died. In the years between the original incident and Khan’s conviction, Khan roamed around freely, earning multiple crores through his films and promotions, doing charitable work and campaigning for politicians like Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa.
As far as the case was concerned, there were denials by Khan, a chauffeur who obligingly popped up out of nowhere and claimed to have been at the wheel on that fateful night, and other obfuscations. When the verdict was announced yesterday, Khan reportedly stayed calm in court. The same cannot be said for his colleagues from Bollywood or friends in Mumbai. They went into a veritable overdrive of verbal diarrhoea and an overt display of how disconnected they were from reality and propriety.
If you were on Twitter yesterday, the onslaught of tweets from celebrities following the verdict was difficult to survive. I understand everyone loves Salman Khan; mainly he’s Bill Gates-meets-Kid Rock-meets-Johny Depp. He seems to be some sort of benefactor, do-gooder and party boy, all rolled into one. Unfortunately, he also appears to have a dash of Chris Brown and Puru Raj Kumar in him. Still, one can understand why his colleagues would want to voice their love and support for him. After all, thanks to him, many have careers in Bollywood and money to spend.
But must they voice their love for him at the risk of sounding like bimbos stuck in ivory towers?
This is a collection of just a few of the gems we were subjected to yesterday. Leading the light-on-morality brigade was of course jewellery designer Farah Khan Ali, who seems to have an IQ of 2, at best. According to her –
The govt should be responsible for housing ppl.If no 1was sleeping on d road in any other country Salman wuld not have driven over anybody.
— Farah Khan (@FarahKhanAli) May 6, 2015
It's like penalising a train driver because someone decided to cross the tracks and got killed in the bargain. #salmankhancase
— Farah Khan (@FarahKhanAli) May 6, 2015
No one has obviously told Farah Khan Ali that people sleep on the road because they have nowhere else to sleep. Also, they were sleeping on an elevated pavement, not expecting a drunken superstar to drive on to the pavement and over them. However, that’s too much logic for Khan Ali, it seems.
The singer Abhijeet followed this up with –
— abhijeet (@abhijeetsinger) May 6, 2015
— abhijeet (@abhijeetsinger) May 6, 2015
(She’s deleted the tweet, but it’s seared into some of our memories.)
Parineeti Chopra displayed that all the education in the world can’t stop you from casting aspersions on what should effect a judge’s verdict – inner beauty or a murder committed.
Hurts to think of what could happen. We will always be with you. Hope the judge sees the beauty of a human being that Salman Khan is.
— Parineeti Chopra (@ParineetiChopra) May 6, 2015
Bipasha Basu decided not to exert herself and instead quoted a doyen of propriety and stellar judgment, the Bombay Times’ editor Priya Gupta. I’m just happy we were spared a picture of Deepika Padukone’s cleavage, thrown in for entertainment value.
And if you think I’m picking on Chopra and other actors – who seem to be hell-bent on proving they shouldn’t open their mouths unless they’ve been given a written script, even if they have only 140 characters with which to display their ignorance – politicians weren’t far behind.
Member of Parliament, Milind Deora had this to say:
India's judiciary may have spoken, but for those of us whose lives @BeingSalmanKhan has touched so deeply, his sentence is a major setback
— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) May 6, 2015
Since Khan had touched the lives of the pavement dwellers quite deeply, I’m hazarding a guess that the verdict and sentence weren’t a major setback for them.
It’s bad enough when you tweet something insensitive. It’s worse when you try and explain it, as both Farah Khan Ali and Abhijeet tried to, making the case for themselves – and their fraternity – even worse.
Khan Ali’s garbled arguments on NDTV and Headlines Today amounted to her criticising the government who should provide housing for everyone. After all, we pay taxes, so why should we see people sleeping on the streets? Of course people will keep getting drunk and driving on pavements, so these accidents will keep happening if the government doesn’t ensure housing for everyone.
Now do you get why I think her broadband and 3G access should be taken away from her?
Abhijeet went one step better while explaining his low IQ and stupid tweets. On Headlines Today, he said – and I quote – “Why should any human die like a dog? Twitter there is a limitation. Salman or anyone, they ever kill a person who sleep on the road. If suicide is a crime, then sleeping on the road should also be a crime. There should be a law against it”. Abhijeet’s only saving grace is that his grammar is so bad, it’s difficult to tell precisely what he means by “they ever kill a person who sleep on the road”.
Even if you set Dumb and Dumber aside, consider what Khan’s other colleagues are saying. Dia Mirza said Khan saved her mother. Others pointed out what a kind and wonderful person he is and that he’s saved many other lives. Ergo, the verdict is “unfair”.
Journalist Bachi Karkaria said it best on NDTV when she said that just because he’s paid for the medical treatment of however many people – at last count, it seemed Khan has treated more children than Doctors Across Borders has – it doesn’t absolve you of or give you the right to murder one person. That’s not how life works. Or the justice system, thankfully.
Even I had tweeted that Puru Raj Kumar and Sanjeev Nanda got away with just a couple of years in jail for running over and murdering many more people. And that I do feel that a necessary example is being made of celebrities and that no one is above the law. Today, with the spread of social media and the public pressure you can exert through it, it is very difficult – I would say almost impossible – for public figures to get away with committing any crime or misdemeanour.
Also, thanks to social media – especially Twitter – celebrities are no longer able to stay secure and away from the commoners. Because some of them lack a filter, we are now privy to their drawing room utterances at which we could previously only guess. The fact is that if you’re a public figure, you can’t just shoot off 140 characters of rubbish and think you won’t be taken to task for it. If you think otherwise, it shows a complete absence of understanding of the medium and its users.
What Twitter and our celebrities’ propensity for shooting their mouths off has done is prove to us that sometimes people are just pretty botoxed faces. And that the popular opinion that celebrities feel that they can get away with anything – whether it be beating up fellow diners at Wasabi, or sexually assaulting their colleague’s maid – is correct. That they might actually have to do the time for their crime seems like a bitter pill to swallow.
It would be advisable that their PR teams teach them how to exercise as much social media dexterity on their personal tweets as they do to promote their films. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with celebrities halal-ing black bucks, walloping others and running over people in real life; at least spare us the onslaught of idiocy in the virtual world.
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