Hindi movies are deafening. It isn't just the films themselves. You can't put a TV set on without one of our cine stars selling/telling/endorsing one brand or other. I've never been a fan of celebrity endorsements. Neither as an ad guy, nor as an audience. Hard nosed-businessmen, so careful with their hard-earned 'moolah', seem to lose all rational thought when it comes to the stars. They shell out crores in the hope that these divas and demi-gods will share a tiny bit of their valuable time to launch a luxury brand. The belief that 'hire film star, stocks will fly off the shelves' doesn't cut it for me. So when Salman recommends, say, Hawa fans, his fans will go screaming into the streets, and purchase this new fan. All because, 'Bhai ne bola'.
Shah Rukh Khan was targeted by right-wing leaders for his remarks on religious intolerance in the country last week; seen here greeting his fans on his birthday
This particular marketing funda defies all logic. Who needs an idea when you have an icon?
Shah Rukh Khan represents so may brands that I've forgotten most of them. His larger-than-life persona invariably dwarfs a product.
I just cannot remember what paint brand he endorses as he walks through walls in a tuxedo. But I can never forget the Asian paints promise of “Har ghar kuch kehtha hai”. No film star, just a fab line.
But this week, I find myself hugely protective of SRK.
So when sidey MPs and pseudo sadhus brazenly tell SRK to return to Pakistan, I'm thinking, you ignoramuses, check Google: he's from Delhi.
But he's fighting the baddies alone.
And I'm wondering, where are the other mega stars when King Khan needs them? More crucially, as a community, why don't they all collectively speak up against intolerance. Or just attack the vicious hardliners backs. What are you guys and gals scared of? That your homes will be stoned? That your films will be boycotted? Are you kidding? You are the richest chosen few in Mother Bharat.
I'm not a fan of award wapasi. It's a noble gesture, but not one that's going to stop intolerance. You guys are loud movie stars. Now get with it and get loud.
Why are you guys silent? What stops you guys from speaking up?
Aamir, you've been the country's moral compass. You spoke out against the poor AIB boys when they were in trouble last year. But here, your fellow Khan and comrade needs you to flex those 'Dangal' muscles. And you've chosen this moment to lose your voice. And Sallu…not a single word to support your bhaijaan? And Bachchan saheb? You're selling aggarbattis and cement and Gujarat. How about becoming brand ambassador for 'Issues of intolerance'? Will these paper trollers dare demand you return to Pakistan?
And Akshay? What about you Saif?
Now's the time to beat up some khiladis and anaris.
Just think, if one week, all of you just refuse to release a single film. Just truly boycott the system; I'm thinking the country will come to a standstill. So will the barbs.
These are simplistic solutions, no doubt. But perhaps the time has come to say, “Har actor kuch kehta hai.”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org