I punch myself: Shah Rukh Khan's bitchslapping blunder
Here are four reasons why we think the only one reeling from the Shirish Kunder smackdown is King Khan himself.
by Lakshmi Chaudhry and Sandip Roy
Shah Rukh caught Shirish Kunder by his hair, dragged him to the ground, and then kicked and punched him at the Agneepath party. Or so claims Mrs Kunder, aka Farah Khan, who went on to piously declare, "Shah Rukh has always told me that physical abuse is the worst way to sort out a problem, and that it means the person who’s hitting has either a personal or professional crisis going on. So it saddens me to see him doing the same."
Public meltdowns are almost de rigeur for celebrities. A lifestyle of excess, narcissism, and constant insecurity is bound to take its toll, and surely we shouldn't grudge them an occasional lapse in reason. The SRK loyalists like Ameesha Patel quickly leapt onto Twitter to declare their support: "Glad@iamsrk told shirish off n put him in place. srk has done so much 4 farah.they shud b grateful n not abusing srk." Dabboo Ratnani eloquently tweeted: “Without any bias I fully support Shah Rukh.” But none of this will mend the PR damage done by the Bollywood tamasha. Here are four reasons why we think the only one reeling from the Rs 150 crore bitch slap is King Khan himself.
One, Shirish who? Amidst the Twitter storm generated by the silly fracas, Emaan Khan elegantly hit the mark: "What did @BeingSalmanKhan say upon hearing that @iamsrk slapped @ShirishKunder? "Who is Shirish Kunder?" Exactly. It's all fine and dandy to make headlines for scuffling with a superstar like Sallu. That's a true cinematic clash of the titans. But wrestling with some no-name director on a couch is an unforgivable violation of the Bollywood caste system. Alpha actors don't beat up nobodies. They ignore them. This wasn't a smackdown but a smack "up" for Kunder, elevating him to SRK's level. Kunder's promised he's not filing an FIR. He doesn't need to. He's probably too busy lining up his Bigg Boss appearance.
Two, unintended confession of failure. After months of blithely touting Ra. One's success – and shrugging off its far too many critics – SRK's thappad amounts to a damning mea culpa: Ok, fine, Ra.One sucks. And I'm mad as hell about it. This is not the man who loftily pronounced, “I am happy with the success of Ra.One. I am happy that people are talking about the film be it a good or bad way." Khan has spent his whole career perfecting the “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn" persona. Turns out he does give a damn, even about the sniping of chhotus.
Worse, he also ensured that every publication republished Kunder's nasty tweets. All of us are now fully reacquainted with bon mots like this one: "The super hero in Ra.One has all the powers in the world, but to entertain." And Farah has made sure the story is no longer just about Ra.One but a 40-plus superstar in the midst of a full-on "professional crisis". Note to Shah Rukh: Never punch your face to swat a mosquito.
Three, I am SRK not Salman K. Everything in the movie business is staged, including the public lives of actors. Each "real" moment caught on camera or circulated as gossip is an opportunity to burnish that oh-so-fake star persona. Drunk brawling is perfect PR fodder for Salman – who remains beloved despite killing humans and endangered wildlife alike — but not for India's favourite damaad. Khan became king by playing the charming, nice guy you could bring home to mama. Even as the bad guy, he is the dimpled Don who never gets his knuckles dirty. All this dishum-dishum, action hero-baazi just doesn't work for him — either on- or off-screen. Now that he's saying he didn't smack anyone and it's all a "misunderstanding", the story is getting even more juvenile. You cannot chant "om shanti om" once you have unleashed the mardaangi. Even a sixth grader knows that.
Four, it's a movie, not your wife. There's something a bit unmanly about getting this worked up about a film, even a very expensive one. As every good Delhi boy ought to know, there is only one good reason for a drunken brawl, and that is a woman. A thousand fights are sparked each night in our fair capital because some guy looked at, brushed past, or just strayed in the general vicinity of the wife or girlfriend. What makes SRK's outburst comical is that it coincided with his buddy Hrithik Roshan tweeting out a pic of himself wrapped around Gauri Khan, accompanied by the message: "With the most beautiful and talented girl in the world! And hottest if I may add!"
Now, what kind of asli dilli mard would put up with that?
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