This appeared in Times Of India
The Saif-Iqbal punch out story is still limping along, but it may soon be consigned to the dustbin. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. It will work in Saif’s favour if the media loses interest. And in Iqbal’s favour if the media keeps up the pressure (Jigna Vohra-J.Dey case would have been buried a long time ago had the press not stayed with it relentlessly). I think what is really bugging people in the Saif brawl is the issue of privileges and preferential treatment that celebs expect as their birthright. The word that keeps popping up is ‘entitlement’. Not the fault of the celebs at all. This is how the system works in India. Forget big ticket movie stars, watch how petty politicians and their lackeys bulldoze their way through sticky situations…. and everybody obliges, cops included. But, in the present more aware and citizen-empowered environment, the aam aadmi is displaying a belligerent mood. So, no amount of hiding behind the rather comical “We come from respectable homes”( then behave respectably, dammit!), arguments is likely to influence public opinion, which is hostile and aggressive. Bad behaviour is unpardonable and cannot be condoned. What is expected from a mature, educated professional ( let’s leave all that ‘Nawab’ nonsense out of it),is a straightforward , upfront account of what happened. Difficult, yes, without compromising his legal position. But definitely more honourable in the long run. If Saif is proven guilty, punish him. If not, get off his back.
Nope, being a high profile movie star is not easy. Never was, never will be. And times have changed a great deal from that era when that amazing trio of superstars (Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand) ruled the roost and never once attacked each other , either verbally or physically. Maintaining a level of decorum in public places has been thrown out of the window decades ago by an arrogant segment of Bollywood. What actually transpired that night in ‘Wasabi’ will be hard to establish without cctv camera footage.We have to rely on police expertise to piece it together convincingly enough. But one thing’s for sure, it will bear a negative impact on Saif Ali Khan’s image ( the other men from his group are non-entities). It is equally true that the public gets a sadistic thrill when a high profile person gets into trouble with the law. The upside of being a pampered celeb, comes with the downside as well. Perhaps, Saif was the chosen one for this particular reality check. But this avoidable incident should serve as a lesson to other celebs not to take the law into their own hands, rather, fists!