Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aamir Khan : Actors as Activists...

This appeared in Bombay Times today.... look at the mess Om Puri finds himself in after his attempt to play actor-activist at the Anna Hazare jamboree on Ramlila grounds. Poor chap is going blue in the face retracting his words and apologising for calling MPs 'Naalayaks' and 'Ganwaars'. Most of India agrees with him, btw!

Amir Khan: Actors as Activists….

“The Parliament has spoken.The will of the Parliament is the will of the people.” Thus spake Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Too little, too late.But at least, Anna called off his 12-day fast and India sighed with relief.Aamir Khan made it to the most photographed dais in Indian history at Ramlila grounds, a few short hours before the impasse ended. He sang, but didn’t dance.Unlike some other opportunistic actors from Bollywood who shamelessly derived mileage from the event, Aamir sensibly skipped gimmicks , yet made his presence and position felt very strongly . Unlike those minor players, ever ready to be associated with any and every ‘good cause’ , Aamir picks his strategic battles very well. While some popular stars displayed support by wearing Anna topis and T-shirts to events , others tweeted and blogged, but the majority stayed put and remained mum. This is the way it has always been in our film industry . Taking a political stand and lending your name\presence to any movement requires a strong sense of conviction and commitment. Especially if that movement is remotely ‘anti- government’, as Anna’s protest certainly was. Actors are a vulnerable lot. It’s a peculiar damned- if –you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t situation that comes with several pitfalls. Most actors are scared of getting on the wrong side of the ruling party or the cops. They know they can be harassed, hounded and exposed ( raids!) by those in authority.This is why most of them prefer to play ball with the establishment, and stay out of trouble by not taking anybody’s side.While a few have taken the plunge officially ( Shatrughan Sinha, Raj Babber, Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Jaya Prada), others fight shy of disclosing their loyalties, preferring to remain studiedly neutral and non-committal.
This is where Aamir Khan is different. Cynics may call his most recent Anna-outing, yet another marketing ace, perhaps a run up to a new movie he is either making or backing ( Peepli Live- 2 ?), but even if it is just that, it still requires dum to go out there and pledge unconditional support to a high profile, controversial, even explosive cause. When Kiran Bedi turned all gooey, coy and coquettish in his presence and asked a silly question (“Will you bring all your friends from Bollywood next time?”), Aamir deftly evaded a direct reply – like any good politician.That apart, his presence at the rally sent out a strong signal. It was about Aamir the individual, Aamir the citizen, taking a stand, not just against corruption, but indirectly against the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. In an age where the culture of camps continues to prevail, this was seen as a defiantly independent move, more so, because the other Khans had maintained a safe distance from a burning issue that had India up in arms for close to a fortnight.
Should actors be compelled to articulate their political positions? In Hollywood, they do. They use their considerable clout to influence public opinion during any national crisis. American Presidents, aware of the power of Hollywood, actively court big names and encourage stars to campaign for them, or speak up when required.From expressing their views on gun control laws to gay marriages, Hollywood big shots make themselves heard across international platforms. Aamir Khan, ever ahead of the curve, and never one to stick with the herd, has demonstrated once again why he more than anybody else in Bollywood, continues to command such a unique position. After all this adulation,his fans will be most disappointed, even disillusioned, if he does indeed capitalize on the Ramlila Grounds’ visit to announce his next film based on Anna and the Famous Fast. Watch this space.


Ambika said...

I choose to remember Aami's presence at the Janatar Mantar where the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists were protesting to. This was close to Rang De Basanti's release. The visit, and his "attempt" to understand the cause fetched the TV channels all the TRPs they run after, while the activists were left frothing and fuming at the "hijack" of the movement.
I don't know if his visit to Ram Lila maidan has some purpose or how much is his understanding of corruption and if bribe was demanded of him or given any bribe. Perhaps his passion will cool off after his movie releases la Rang De Basanti. I haven't heard anything about Aamir's interest or support in Narmada Bachao Andolan after that
Btw...did India pick up on the candle light movement after watching RDB? M curious

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Mickie Sorabjee said...

Breaking News & Annaasides
Both houses of Parliament rose to the occasion to unanimously adopt a 'sense of the House' on Anna Hazare’s three conditions for an effective Lokpal bill: establishment of Lok Ayuktas in the states, a Citizen’s Charter, and inclusion of the lower bureaucracy in the Lokpal bill, and “resolved” to consider these three factors as key to an effective Lokpal with the debates on the bill to be forwarded to the Standing Committee on the Lokpal bill.
The thumping of the desks after FM Pranab Mukherjee’s speech seen and taken as a voice vote and as adoption of the resolution reminds one of lessons for students of law:
• When you are strong on facts, thump the facts.
• When you are strong on law, thump the law.
• When you are weak on both, thump the table.

Contrary to what Madam Sushma Swaraj ranted in her dig against the head of our country that he seldom speaks and when he does his party men never listen to him, the actual hero here is our humility personified Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who once again showed that when pushed against the wall, Singh is King. Manmohanji authoritatively ordered his trouble-shooters FM and Law Minister that impasse between his government, the opposition and civil society be resolved in a way that allowed Anna Hazare to break his fast in the belief that people power had triumphed even while Parliament preserved its dignity as the institution alone vested with the power to enact final law. The message sent out was loud and clear to those in Team Anna dictating terms instead of exhausting constitutional methods.

Anna Hazare while exercising his constitutional rights of freedom of speech/action, was stubbornly refusing to accord Parliament its rights under the constitution to execute procedural norms. Activist Hazare may have awakened hazaarein khwaishen in the man on the street and put MPs on notice about an anti-corruption fight, but the real victor here is the supreme Indian Constitution.

Poor Gandhiji, India quotes the Mahatma and his ideals in perpetuity, and in spite of giving us countrymen our freedom from foreign shackles, he has always had and still does have many detractors who blame him for some of present day woes and partitioning of the nation. Let us sincerely hope the septuagenarian Gandhian Hazare is able to deliver and in the not too distant future ungrateful Indians don’t hold him responsible for starting something that spirals out of control into anarchy by vested interests who hijack his movement.
On a humorous note, Anna Hazare’s movement of the people has induced/inspired another type of mass movement among our elected representatives themselves. They are contemplating en masse exodus from Parliament to start their own NGOs in order to escape accountability to the ominous Lokpal.
• On an aside, does anybody know who footed the bill for the 13 day jamboree at Ramlilla Grounds and who has shifted Annaji to hospital and is going to underwrite his hospitalisation cost_ the tax-payer or his NGO?
• And by the way did anyone hear North Indians complaining about Marathi Manoos descending in hordes in the political capital like some confrontational Maharashtrians do about Ambedkar’s followers turning up in thousands to celebrate their leader’s anniversary rituals bi-annually in Mumbai?
• Without intending to minimize Anna Hazare’s media covered 13 day feat, is it not a known fact that many Jains observe a rigorous water only fast with intake allowed only between the hours of ten and six in the daytime for anything from a week to chosen number of days even as they go about normal routine work? Presently thousands of devout Jains must have undertaken this 31 days Maskashman since the eleventh day of Bhadrapad Suklapsksh

Vinod Kumar said...

Whatever was in my mind is echoed here. And I love Mrs.De, the way she expresses it.

goodluck said...

Even if he announces a film, nothing wrong. It will help the movement alive for times to come. He is the only top actor who has the guts to state clearly what he wants from this movement.

As I said earlier this movement may have all the makings of a huge drama, but the sincerity of intention cant be questioned.

And a marathi manus has taken all India as his battling ground instead of starting another regional outfit.

Anna Sena will have all India presence and let it fight elections as a third national party apart from Congress and BJP.
It will also have a taste of how difficult it is to govern a country.

Anna Sena, I say.

Chintan said...

it certainly needs some mind and heart to do what you truly believe in. lalu prasad yadav very happily made fun of actors supporting,he surely doesn't understand not all dance at the weddings...

kakaka said...

didnt you call Aamir khan the most overrated actor on Koffee with Karan once, hahah. Let me guess his career graph if moving up so more sucking up to do.

goodluck said...

Shobhaa's favourite actors are SRK and BigB. She never liked the other Khans that much.

Latha said...

First of all I object to the words, 'jamboree', 'tamasha' etc when it is not for the rich & the famous but for the poor & the middle class of India that he has fasted.
The lame duck PM as usual listened to his coterie to request anna to give up his fast for free without getting anything in return for the people of this country who supported him day & night. By doing this he was not cheating anna, he was cheating us. 11 days they never cared, thinking that anna could be coerced, blamed & pressurised by the traitor Agnivesh & the high & mighty in the parliament & the 'paid channels' like CNN IBN & NDTV to give up the fast. If anna had given up his fast, nothing would've been achieved. He was far too clever to read their mind & insisted on fasting till the bill was passed. 11 days it was team anna's problem as Pranab Mukherjee rightly put it. 12th day was crucial as the doctors had warned. If his condition got worse, the govt will have a lot to answer the people of this country & they as usual cannot manage a crisis in a nice way, bankrupt that they are. When it became 'their problem', they gave in. Anna's strategy worked.
Manmohan Singh was hailed by us as 'Singh is king' when he got the nuclear deal signed. But now he is 'Chatur Singh'.
As regards Om Puri, they want to move a privilege motion ! He was 'impeached' by Nidhi Razdan in 'left, right & centre' with 4 politicians pitted against him. He was so terrified that he cowered, cringed & apologised several times over. Even when one of the boys said, 'he has apologised. Period. Leave it', the sadistic Nidhi was in no mood to do that & kept on pounding him like a cannon fire. How much does the govt pay ndtv Nidhi & cnn ibn Sagarika Ghose for this kind of tamashas which nobody except the govt enjoy ? Are we a taliban state ? Why this intolerance ? When the ex super cop Arun Bhatia tried to defend Om Puri, the multiproged attack turned toward him. Shame ndtv ! You are supposed to represent us instead of licking the boots of the baboos !
Later the otherwise just Headlines Today also made Om Puri eat his words many times over & shrink in front of Rahul Kanwal. What are we proving to the world ? That we are a bunch of uncouth people with zero tolerance ?

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obssesor said...

The problem is that we look at everything from a conspiracy angle...these poor chaps don't stand a chance because we judge too soon and too wrong.

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goodluck said...

I agree with Omar. If murugan etc can be excused why not Afzal Guru? One just cannot have one rule for muslim and one for hindu.

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Anil Kumar said...

Nidhi Razdan is not on NDTV as a news anchor or some one who can hold debates. She is there because of her looks.

Barkha Dutt can do a very good job but her agenda's are same as Congress party's agenda. She goes extra mile to take Muslim's issue even if it means breaking this country into pieces. And when there are issues which haunt Congress party, she normally goes into hiding and her program BUCK STOPS HERE doesn't even come on those days.
As we have changed name of different cities....Shouldn't we request Prannoy Roy and company to change the news channel's name from NDTV 24X7 to Mulla's News Channel 24X7.

And by the way how much do they have to pay to get award of best news channel - English. Who are those jokers who give such ratings??? Their names should be in public domain.

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चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

Now manish tiwari and om puri stand on the same platform.

Pooja Rathore said...

you are right about the dum factor,Aamir had the dum to stand for the cause he believed in ,its not easy,will definetly watch this space.
Happy Ganesha Chaturthi!

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Anonymous said...

You see many people get touched by different things, This latest demonstration by Anna Hazare or whatever you want to call it touched many people, it invoked peoples inner strength which had been bogged down for many years. When this happens, people tend to join what they believe is right - and they use whatever means they can to show support and voice their opinion. Actors have their popularity and fame as their disposal and in many cases can change politics.

Let's imagine for one second - all the actors in bollywood (movies, dramas, etc) decided to strike/boycott making movies unless a law is past to setup up an independent body to tackle corruption and who's dealings will remain transparent to public at all costs. This such decision would shake the hell out of any government and would bring down the corrupt people on their knees.

My point is - people have power, but when were busy fighting each other (helped by media to make news albeit false to sell) the corruption spreads down to the local taxi driver and even he becomes part of a system hell bent of controlling you. But when the 'people' wake up - no power can stand in their path to seek freedom and justice.

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*Aham* said...

aamir has not been as a great actor, definitely not half as good as he manages his public profile.

id not consider it wrong if he had some hidden agenda if it is anyways for the larger good. so, mujhe lagta hai, we should not dissect his motives and try to excavate what is there in the marketing maverick's mind.

i love the fact that plain-jane-chashmish (read Kiran Rao)doesn't pick up the microphone or bask in the glory of her pati-dev with a Luis-Vuitton handbag to pose for the shutterbugs.

aamir's mind ... wonder even if bill gates could manage to decode it.

and his speeches are well calculated and articulated... his strategies - well defined.

any other actor will look a daft bloke, to endorse and stand against the mighty coke.

well the difference between the aam-tam-jham ranjha and heers of bollywood and aamir
is the same as being the herd and being heard.

Anonymous said...

I'm as much pro-Anna as any other patriotic Indian commoner. However I feel that Aamir's support on the last day of the "fast" was just a publicity stunt.

Aamir Khan couldn't express his support when Anna's movement was in its "initial & peak stages", probably fearing a possible "IT raid initiated by the government". Once the resolution was passed in parl' and Anna's fast was nearing its successful end, Aamir comes out of nowhere to stage a hoax in the name of social activism.

These top rated film stars rule the roost in the "black money circuit", and they are making a mockery of the "anti-graft movement", by their participation.

I'm sure Anna too felt the same about Aamir.

lalsub said...

@ first commenter Ambika and last commenter Soccerfan 777.

You guys are plainly ill-informed. Aamir may be as publicity conscious as the next star--but in this case I feel that he is to be respected and not dismissed. Aamir was in fact one of the first people to support Anna, right in April, when Anna went on his first fast. At that point, Aamir wrote to the PM and Anna about his views and concerns regarding the Lokpal bill--then continued to be in touch with team Anna, as per media reports. Aamir was in fact one of the 250 people chosen by Anna's team-- a 20 point questionnaire was answered by Aamir and many others; rediff published Aamir's answers/views. Aamir felt strongly that the PM should be brought under purview of Lokpal.

And Ambika should know this---Rang De Basanti was released on Jan 25th 2006; Aamir participated in Narmada Bachoa Andolan sit in much later--in mid april 2006--well after RDB had exhausted its theatre run. And Aamir actually lost due to his participation--his film Fanaa (a May 2006 release)--was banned in Gujarat--and Aamir received plenty of flak from Gujarat govt, public, BJP and their supporters.

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