General ramblings

Aamir Khan Comes of Age

Funny title, I know. Considering the fact that he’s forty plus. But that doesn’t stop him from portraying the role of a college yuppie in Dil Chahta Hai or Rang De Basanti. When Rajnikanth can romance women half his age in movies like Sivaji, then why not Aamir, the chocolate hero of Bollywood?

On one hand, we have Bhaichung Bhutia, the captain of the Indian Football team, who saw through the political make up and more importantly, truly stood up for the humanitarian causes that should have been central to 2008 Beijing Olympics and refused to be the torch bearer and on the other hand, we have filmi personalities like Aamir and Saif Ali Khan, who have proved that they are just that- PR agents with the intelligence level of a cockroach. Aamir, in the following video, demonstrate his IQ level and tries to reason why he feels so proud carrying the torch:

He says something along the lines of “It’s a great sport! Such an amazing sporting event, that is world’s best sporting event!” (Looks like he’s at a loss of words). On being further asked to talk about the environmental issues, he says that he does his bit by conserving drinking water and by turning off the tap whenever required to do so. The host of the show is only too keen to label him as an ardent support of social causes. Excuse me? Great stuff Aamir! That’s all that we can expect from a critically acclaimed actor like you, right? After all, politics and sports should be kept “separate”.

In his blog, he goes on to defend his stance by using weak arguments such as:

I have the highest respect and regard for the struggle that the people of Iraq, Kashmiri Pundits who have been displaced, Kashmiris in general, and the people of Palestine, are going through. I have named above just a few instances of human rights violations…In fact if we were to try and find on this planet a place to hold the Olympic Games where the government of that place has not been responsible for human rights violations (in one way or the other), then I suspect that we would be left with very few options, if any at all…I am no one to tell any group of people how they should conduct their struggle. I am not part of it and am not going through what they are going through. But my heart goes out to them.

Yet, he feels the need to equate the condition of Palestine and Kashmir with the genocide in Tibet. How can these be the same? There is a lot of difference in the way India and Pakistan handle Kashmir and in the way China is handling Tibet and other regions. After all, we don’t need to tell any group how to conduct their struggle, but we also don’t need to come ahead and behave in a manner that might be construed as suggestive of the fact that we’re indirectly associating with the wrong-doings of the organizer of the event.

Oh, and we all know how much Mr. Aamir Khan doesn’t tell anyone (read: Shah Rukh Khan) else how he/she should be earning his/her money (Read: He condemns SRK’s dancing in people’s weddings/award shows etc. He also makes it a point to publicly declare his dislike for Mr. Bachchan’s acting in Black. Of course, condemning people in the film industry is not the same as condemning a country’s violation of basic human rights on a global scale, right? You need more brains to do that).

Let’s not forget his harried attempt to come to the spot light during the Narmada Bachao Andolan. All of a sudden, we had Aamir talking about the rights of the villagers who had lost their houses. Where was he all these years when they were suffering? He remembers people’s plights only when he has a movie in the line or when he needs the media publicity. Who can express it better than Arundhati Roy herself? This is what she had to say

The poster boy of Coke coming here to express his solidarity with the Andolan is meaningless unless he gives up his campaign. If he does it, then he gets zindabad from me and others.

B Raman, of Rediff India, has something equally poignant to say in his Open Letter to Aamir Khan:

The importance of your participation and of the participation of Saif Ali Khan to the Chinese was not only because you are both widely-admired film artists. It was also because both of you are widely-respected Muslim personalities.

The importance of the participation of football hero Baichung Bhutia to the Chinese was not only because he is a football hero, but also because he is a highly-respected Buddhist personality. He saw through their game and declined to let himself be used by the Chinese to serve their psychological warfare agenda in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai. One hopes he does not change his mind under pressure from our Communists. It is a pity you have not seen through their game.

So there! You have it, dear Coke boy. It’s best if you stick to what you’re good at: Shunning Indian Awards and lobbying for the Oscars and making the headlines for your new hair style. Leaves the sports to the real sportsmen and leave the politics to the people who understand it. There are no re-takes here, unfortunately.

Related Reading: Beijing Politics- Why Bother? By Shefaly

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19 thoughts on “Aamir Khan Comes of Age

  1. I really dont get it. What does the film personalities got to do with Olympics? Is it only for the publicity? Maybe the sponsors want more coverage on the Indian newspapers.

    Its like asking PT Usha to host Filmafare awards or the Oscars.

    I mean why cant they do that.
    Do we really need actors and politicians in the sports events too?
    Okay then Mr Laloo Prasad should be our new Hockey Captain to revive the team as he helped our railways.

    Let Amir Play for India as well. may be In the long jump.

    The actors are everywhere. Well they have even bought cricket teams. I ……..

  2. Pingback: Olympics 2008 « The Crapbook

  3. As a fan of Aamir’s I have been disappointed with his approach. He is basically rationalizing his decision to carry the torch, that’s all. I always have had this high regard for Aamir after he spoke up for the rehabilitation of poor farmers. And he got a lot of flak for that. His films were banned in Gujarat. I admired him for standing up to his statement despite that.
    He should not have defended his carrying the torch. He should have realised that it’s best not to say anything. No comments should have been his approach. Aamir is a very intelligent guy though I can’t say about Saif. Everyone makes mistakes and I think he’s made one now.

  4. janmadhyam says:

    Aamir,
    Wish we weren’t born in this generation… where-in the greater the idiot the larger the applause and that too isn’t recorded… !! SAD ISN’T IT??????????

    How much more are you going to stoop!! and shame this planet… This new Hitler IS SO APT. i did suggest to you in blog and you seem to take my advice… at least on the surface level…
    Your conservative use of water (to bathe and wash your hands!!) HAHA!! how many liter’s per day… great compensation for the 7-10 liters of water that coco cola using for every 300 ml bottle. How many bottles of coke do you drink and thanks you millions drink…??

    Please don’t shy away from using some more water But READ n TRUST the wisdom of those who don’t have much to gain… if you are not willing to look at FACTS.
    Whose advice do you seek… before you make any of the choices ??

    The media is brain dead… and bankrupt! so won’t comment on them…

    About Tibet… wish you had taken a beating from the police at least once in your real life… may be you would have been a different man.
    Didn’t you ever rebel against authority…?? at home or elsewhere…?
    Shame on you!

  5. Sometime back I read a blog by someone whose author compared Aamir Khan to The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark, with whom I completely agree. The recent actions by Aamir takes him close to being a Peter Keating.
    And I rate SRK above Aamir because at least whatever SRK does he does it openly.

  6. lallopallo says:

    Your post reads like one sided selective criticism of a celebrity.
    He might have his flaws but that doesnt undermine many of his qualities and achievements in life.
    Minor corrections here too..he was not forty plus when he acted in DCH..he was around 35 and he played a character who’s out of college (25-26ish)..I dont think that’s a crime for any actor..besides, he looked perfect in that part..
    In RDB, he played a character who’s finished university since atleast 5 years and is just hanging in there ..so, he played a character who’s in his late twenties/early thirties..He was around 39-40 that time..again, not a big crime..
    It’s fine if you dont agree with his views or dont like his movies or find his arguments unconvincing, but equating his intelligence with a cockroach is simply mean and unwarranted.

  7. Xylene- That’s the question that’s stuck in my mind too! What do Aamir and Saif have got to do with the Olympics? They have been hired for publicity partly and also because of the fact that they’re Muslim personalities and perhaps their involvement with justify what China has been doing, even though this might not be Aamir and Saif’s intention. That’s the reason I think they are cockroaches. They are in it for the publicity too, with no respect for th genocide and other atrocities.

    Nita- Standing up for the rights of farmers and stuff is all right, but he is not really in a position to speak for them. What with him being the Coke boy and all! Coke is one of the biggest consumers of water and contributes to the environmental mess! He can’t have it both ways. If he’s so bothered about the well fare of the farmers and the greenery of the planet, then he needs to stop endorsing Coke firstly.

    Janmadhyam- Thanks for your comment. You are echoing my thoughts exactly. He says that since India has not raised an objection against China, then who is he? Oh well…now only if every man were to let the political policies of his/her country dictate his actions… and since when has the political stance of one’s country been an objective reason for not protesting? So this is something like “George Bush invaded the Iraq and since the Govt. is fine with it, then who am I to object?”. Sad state of affairs, totally.

    Anand- Even I read that comparison somewhere and I was completely speechless. As much as I don’t agree with Ayn Rand’s characters (Esp. Howard Roark), I don’t see how Aamir is/was like Howard Roark! Roark shied away from publicity and everything material. Whatever Aamir does is for publicity. Hell, he’s not even a good actor. Roark was at least a good architect, fictitious of course.

    Lallopallo- It is one sided because I’m not interested in fighting over his acting capabilities. Somehow, I’m tired of talking about his acting skills. Let’s talk about his real life skills now. 🙂

    but equating his intelligence with a cockroach is simply mean and unwarranted.

    I don’t have anything to say about his acting accomplishments, which I think are few and far between and don’t hold up on a global scale anyway. Re: his intelligence level, I think that it’s better to form a rough analysis of his IQ based on his real life actions (Narmada Bachao, and this on) instead of his movies. Aamir the actor doesn’t warrant any IQ skills, right? It is Aamir the person whom we are contesting about in this post.

  8. @ Ruhi: Interesting post and thanks for the hat tip!

    The use of celebrities is a double-edged sword. Because with the over-exposed ones comes their baggage.

    Here is another contemporary story. Harini Calamur has written a eulogy for Charlton Heston, where she suggests that he came off looking like the gentleman in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. I think she may be letting her liking for CH colour her judgement a little because in his case, his support of NRA came as a surprise – not a pleasant one – to many of his fans. One might wonder if there was a negative impact on his “image” but that is moot now that he is 6 feet under.

    So back to Aamir Khan. I think in politically sensitive situations, it is best for such “celebrities” either to refuse to toe the establishment line (so, do not carry torch at all) or to do it wholeheartedly without deviating from the party line. Half-baked explanations of the kind that AK has offered could risk both their day-job (acting, modelling) and their support of social causes. The public may judge them more harshly than they do others, but that is the choice they make by wanting to be noticed, no? Occupational hazard is the technical term as you know.

    On the Coke thing, I have to disagree with your assessment. This is not because I have done strategic work for them in this area, but because that work has given me privileged access to their efforts and the food industry’s efforts in this direction, and I do think in the absence of things being in the public domain, it is all too easy to make a lop-sided judgement about things.

    I also fail to be convinced that somehow endorsing Coke makes AK unfit to fight for farmers. Angelina Jolie advertises very expensive St John clothes. I do not see why she should not also be a UN ambassador. One thing pays rent, the other allows soul-feeding work to be done. Why not? I constantly do it in my own way – about which you know – without compromising my principles (so no work for alcohol firms although they pay hand over fist!). I think it is just a matter of framing the issue.

  9. I am quite divided on this issue. On one side I think its his personal choice. Its not necessary that he must hold an openion on everything and act on it too. Maybe he is just watching Olympics from a higher perspective. Its just a way to bring Nations together, isn’t it?? And is there a country which has not violated the Human rights?
    On the other side, If Aamir stood for various causes earlier, then why not now?? If Saif would have said whatever Aamir said, I could have understood, because he never stood for any cause. But coming from Aamir, it was a little surprising.
    And I have a hunch that maybe the guy is under some sort of a pressure.

  10. @ Shefaly:

    Aamir’s half-hearted attempt here is no surprise. He’s done so in the past and he will do it in the future too. This is what happens when you have only half of the facts clear. 🙂 By putting themselves in front of the public, they are bringing it upon themselves to be scrutinized. Price of being famous, yes.

    Re: Coke issue- Could you give me some instances where the public and the general notion might be wrong? I have read lots of articles on the internet and all of them talk about the environmental hazards of Coke. Examples- High level of pesticides, high water usage, contamination of ground water etc.

    R: Aamir fighting for farmers, no, his endorsing Coke shouldn’t make him unfit for standing up for the rights of farmers. What I feel is that why do things only for publicity? If he is really so concerned about the rights of those farmers, then where was he all those years? Why do something only before the release of a film? (Even though he hadn’t expected the screening of his film to be forestalled). And Coke does use at least 3.2 litres (in their official publication, though the general consensus is that they use 10 litres) of water to produce a litre of Coke. He was supposed to “take up with issue with Coke”. What happened? Do we hear anymore about his support to the farmers? No. Do we know where he took up the issue with Coke? No. What would have happened if he would have taken up the issue? Coke would have dismissed him and signed on someone else. Simple! In a country where there are so many Khan heros, it doesn’t matter which Khan is the poster boy for Coke.

    Perhaps, yes, it is a matter of framing the issue. People will always have different viewpoints. 🙂

  11. @ Amit:

    I think someone who has no opinions will live in a very sad state. He will be a perfect candidate for getting influenced by the media, no? There is no country that has no violated Human Rights, yes. But his words and actions don’t go hand in hand here, unfortunately. It’s like a half baked attempt where his intentions are something else and his action will be something else. Who knows what his real intention is? It might be to get publicity (which might very well be the case; we all know his love for anything International- Oscars, Cannes etc). Saif Ali Khan- I don’t expect anything from his. He’s almost a non-issue here.

  12. @ Ruhi: People such as Amir Khan are leveraging their celebrity, not their knowledge of technical, business and political affairs. Some do take issue with the companies that employ them as their ‘face’. Whether Amir Khan did it or not is not for us to know – yet. I could enquire with friends at Coke in India and find out. You will be amazed at how much effort firms put into improving these things. They do however have to play a public game of thrust and parry while things improve. It is not as easy it as it looks. Whether you work inside a corporation or work freelance, you will see that things are not linear or predictable.

    My point is simply this – the assumption that companies are evil just because they make profits is as bad as the assumption that somehow the masses are always right. Seeing and being able to negotiate a way around complexities – while doing as best as we can to ensure equity, sustainability and fairness – is the most a human being can commit to. Amir Khan may be trying his best, who knows. But so are firms. And so should consumers. After all, if people stopped buying Coke, the question of 10L-water-for-1L-Coke would just be a moot point, would it not?

  13. Xylene’s words rn’t false.In spite of actor they r also human being like us and they hv the right to take their their own decision as well.Amir and Saif r k in their ways.

  14. very very impressive blog. Intelligence levels of a cockroach – while that is hilarious, cockroaches may be filing a defamation suit. Wish these guys could be like SRK – crystal clear in what he wants and thinks.

  15. wow…great blog ruhi .. 🙂
    i knew the title was deceptive as i know how u feel abt amir 😀 .have had enough arguments with u abt him..dont wish to continue…
    i know u would win.. 😀

  16. Shefaly- Yes, nobody knows what happened between Coke and Aamir Khan. There are lots of corporate layers that come in between and I’m sure the issue is not simple. Nevertheless, even if it takes 3.2 L (the official figures) for 1 L of Coke, we are looking at a 3.2:1 ratio. And if the company has done something about it, then I’m sure it would be well publicized. But I haven’t heard of anything of that sort.

    Definitely companies cannot be penalized for having profits. If that were the case, then no company would ever survive and such an attitude would bring down the world economy. About consumers buying/boycotting Coke- the funny thing is that in India, the avg. Coke consumption is just 1 (on a standardized index), but the Coke consumption in the US is around 142 on the same index. I don’t have an official citation here because one of my profs. had shown me an academic paper on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s correct. Anyway, so yes, the bottomline is that there is not much Coke consumption in India when we compare it on a global scale.

    Abhi- Sure, everybody has a right to take a stand. Problem arises when people make their decisions on half baked information.

    Raman- Precisely my thinking. 🙂 Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog. Even though I’m not really a big fan of Shah Rukh, I’ve got to accept the fact that the guy really knows what he does and what he wants! Kudos to him for that.

    Arvind- Great blog? You’ve visited my blog for the first time, eh? Re: Aamir- You are right! Let’s not argue. You do remember what happened the last time, right? 😉

  17. ulag says:

    i agree with you about the fact tht aamir khan can b very opportunistic about dealing with specific issues only around the time his movies are released. Time and again he has shown that. But i think he has a point when he said that if we go looking to hold olympics only in countries with No human rights violations we’d be left with very few choices. Such sporting events are meant to bring the world closer without any mention of the political differences. Even during the ancient games wars between the participating greek city states would be put on hold till the end of the olmypics. Despite Hitlers virulent “Aryan” superiority theory, black athletes did take part in the games and jesse owens famously proved him wrong.
    Which country hasnt committed Human rights violations? If today we boycott the Chinese olympics for their human rights record whos to say that pakistan and china wont do the same for the delhi commonwealth games in 2010. Our human rights record is abysmal too. True, that there is no comparison between tackling armed insurgents in Kashmir and the North East and China’s crackdown against peaceful monks; but who gets to decide what falls within the line and what outside? Each country has its own view when it comes to such matters. I dont think boycotting serves any purpose. We can show our support to the Tibetan cause in many other ways than holding the olympics hostage.

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