SRK ‘s Article on Outlook Turning Points 2013 [Published By The New York Times]

I am an actor. Time does not frame my days with as much conviction as images do. Images rule my life. Moments and memories imprint themselves on my being in the form of the snapshots that I weave into my expression. The essence of my art is the ability to create images that resonate with the emotional imagery of those watching them.

I am a Khan. The name itself conjures multiple images in my mind too: a strapping man riding a horse, his reckless hair flowing from beneath a turban tied firm around his head. His ruggedly handsome face marked by weathered lines and a distinctly large nose.

A stereotyped extremist; no dance, no drink, no cigarette tipping off his lips, no monogamy, no blasphemy; a fair, silent face beguiling a violent fury smoldering within. A streak that could even make him blow himself up in the name of his God.
Then there is the image of me being shoved into a back room of a vast American airport named after an American president (another parallel image: of the president being assassinated by a man named lee, not a Muslim thankfully, nor Chinese as some might imagine! I urgently shove the image of the room out of my head).

Some stripping, frisking and many questions later, I am given an explanation (of sorts): “Your name pops up on our system, we are sorry”. “So am I,” I think to myself, “Now can I have my underwear back please?”
Then, there is the image I most see, the one of me in my own country: being acclaimed as a megastar, adored and glorified, my fans mobbing me with love and apparent adulation.

I am a Khan.

I could say I fit into each of these images: I could be a strapping six feet something – ok something minus, about three inches at least, though I don’t know much about horse-riding. A horse once galloped off with me flapping helplessly on it and I have had a “no horse-riding” clause embedded in my contracts ever since.

I am extremely muscular between my ears, I am often told by my kids, and I used to be fair too, but now I have a perpetual tan or as I like to call it ‘olive hue’ – though deep In the recesses of my armpits I can still find the remains of a fairer day. I am handsome under the right kind of light and I really do have a “distinctly large” nose. It announces my arrival in fact, peeking through the doorway just before I make my megastar entrance. But my nose notwithstanding, my name means nothing to me unless I contextualize it.

Stereotyping and contextualizing is the way of the world we live in: a world in which definition has become central to security. We take comfort in defining phenomena, objects and people – with a limited amount of knowledge and along known parameters. The predictability that naturally arises from these definitions makes us feel secure within our own limitations.

We create little image boxes of our own. One such box has begun to draw its lid tighter and tighter at present. It is the box that contains an image of my religion in millions of minds.

I encounter this tightening of definition every time moderation is required to be publicly expressed by the Muslim community in my country. Whenever there is an act of violence in the name of Islam, I am called upon to air my views on it and dispel the notion that by virtue of being a Muslim, I condone such senseless brutality. I am one of the voices chosen to represent my community in order to prevent other communities from reacting to all of us as if we were somehow colluding with or responsible for the crimes committed in the name of a religion that we experience entirely differently from the perpetrators of these crimes.

I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in india. There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighboring nation rather than my own country – this even though I am an Indian whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave my home and return to what they refer to as my “original homeland”.
Of course, I politely decline each time, citing such pressing reasons as sanitation words at my house preventing me from taking the good shower that’s needed before undertaking such an extensive journey. I don’t know how long this excuse will hold though.
I gave my son and daughter names that could pass for generic (pan-Indian and pan-religious) ones: Aryan and Suhana. The Khan has been bequeathed by me so they can’t really escape it. I pronounce it from my epiglottis when asked by Muslims and throw the Aryan as evidence of their race when non-Muslims enquire.

I imagine this will prevent my offspring from receiving unwarranted eviction orders and random fatwas in the future. It will also keep my two children completely confused. Sometimes, they ask me what religion they belong to and, like a good Hindi movie hero, I roll my eyes up to the sky and declare philosophically, “You are an Indian first and your religion is humanity”, or sing them an old Hindi film ditty, “Tu Hindu banega na Musalmaan banega – insaan ki aulaad hai insaan banega” set to Gangnam Style.

None of this informs them with any clarity, it just confounds them some more and makes them deeply wary of their father.

In the land of the freed, where I have been invited on several occasions to be honored, I have bumped into ideas that put me in a particular context. I have had my fair share of airport delays for instance.

I became so sick of being mistaken for some crazed terrorist who coincidentally carries the same last name as mine that I made a film, subtly titled My name is Khan (and I am not a terrorist) to prove a point. Ironically, I was interrogated at the airport for hours about my last name when I was going to present the film in America for the first time.
I wonder, at times, whether the same treatment is given to everyone whose last name just happens to be McVeigh (as in Timothy)??

I don’t intend to hurt any sentiments, but truth be told, the aggressor and taker of life follows his or her own mind. It has to nothing to do with a name, a place or his/her religion. It is a mind that has its discipline, its own distinction of right from wrong and its own set of ideologies. In fact, one might say, it has its own “religion”. This religions has nothing to do with the ones that have existed for centuries and been taught in mosques or churches. The call of the azaan or the words of the pope have no bearing on this person’s soul. His soul is driven by the devil. I, for one, refuse to be contextualized by the ignorance of his ilk.
I am a Khan.

I am neither six-feet-tall nor handsome (I am modest though) nor am I a Muslim who looks down on other religions. I have been taught my religion by my six-foot-tall, handsome Pathan ‘Papa’ from Peshawar, where his proud family and mine still resides. He was a member of the no-violent Pathan movement called Khudai Khidamatgaar and a follower of both Gandhiji and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, who was also known as the Frontier Gandhi.

My first learning of Islam from him was to respect women and children and to uphold the dignity of every human being. I learnt that the property and decency of others, their points of view, their beliefs, their philosophies and their religions were due as much respect as my own and ought to be accepted with an open mind. I learnt to believe in the power and benevolence of Allah, and to be gentle and kind to my fellow human beings, to give of myself to those less privileged than me and to live a life full of happiness, joy, laughter and fun without impinging on anybody else’s freedom to live in the same way.

So I am a Khan, but no stereotyped image is factored into my idea of who I am. Instead, the living of my life has enabled me to be deeply touched by the love of millions of Indians. I have felt this love for the last 20 years regardless of the fact that my community is a minority within the population of India. I have been showered with love across national and cultural boundaries, from Suriname to Japan and Saudi Arabia to Germany, places where they don’t even understand my language. They appreciate what I do for them as an entertainer – that’s all. My life has led me to understand and imbibe that love is a pure exchange, untempered by definition and unfettered by the narrowness of limiting ideas. If each one of us allowed ourselves the freedom to accept and return love in its purity, we would need no image boxes to hold up the walls of our security.
I believe that I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience the magnitude of such a love, but I also know that its scale is irrelevant. In our own small ways, simply as human beings, we can appreciate each other for how touch our lives and not how our different religions or last names define us.

Beneath the guise of my superstardom, I am an ordinary man. My Islamic stock does not conflict with that of my Hindu wife’s. The only disagreements I have with Gauri concern the color of the walls in our living room and not about the locations of the walls demarcating temples from mosques in India.
We are bringing up a daughter who pirouettes in a leotard and choreographs her own ballets. She sings western songs that confound my sensibilities and aspires to be an actress. She also insists on covering her head when in a Muslim nation that practices this really beautiful and much misunderstood tenet of Islam.

Our son’s linear features proclaim his Pathan pedigree although he carries his own, rather gentle mutations of the warrior gene. He spends all day either pushing people asie at rugby, kicking some butt at Tae Kwon Do or eliminating unknown faces behind anonymous online gaming handles around the world with The Call of Duty video game. And yet, he firmly admonishes me for getting into a minor scuffle at the cricket stadium in Mumbai last year because some bigot make unsavory remarks about me being a Khan.

The four of us make up a motley representation of the extraordinary acceptance and validation that love can foster when exchanged within the exquisiteness of things that are otherwise defined ordinary.

For I believe, our religion is an extremely personal choice, not a public proclamation of who we are. It’s as person as the spectacles of my father who passed away some 20 years ago. Spectacles that I hold onto as my most prized and personal possession of his memories, teachings and of being a proud Pathan. I have never compared those with my friends, who have similar possessions of their parents or grandparents. I have never said my father’s spectacles are better than your mother’s saree. So why should we have this comparison in the matter of religion, which is as personal and prized a belief as the memories of your elders. Why should not the love we share be the last word in defining us instead of the last name? It doesn’t take a superstar to be able to give love, it just takes a heart and as far as I know, there isn’t a force on this earth that can deprive anyone of theirs.
I am a Khan, and that’s what it has meant being one, despite the stereotype images that surround me. To be a Khan has been to be loved and love back – that the promise that virgins wait for me somewhere on the other side.

– Shah Rukh Khan,

17 Comments

  1. wall-D
    wall-D
    January 29, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    What a shame! A mean maligned beast nature of this guy stooped him to lower than Kasab. Atleast, kasab could take some stand in his life and fought for what believe in. What this guy is? A Pure opportunist. He reminds me of shakuni from mahabharat. :( And shame on me that once i was fan of this guy.

  2. Tippu Sultan
    Tippu Sultan
    January 29, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    This is what sets SRK apart. In a nutshell SRK is one of the few intellectuals in the film industry. Now Wall D tell me who can beat that! And your critique smacks of someone who is either virulently illiterate or lack the comprehension required for such intellectual writings.

  3. jealous hater of srk
    jealous hater of srk
    January 29, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    Nly unpad gawars wil criticize srk after reading this article
    Thanks rajeev fr posting it
    Good to see u back..

  4. Alfa.one
    Alfa.one
    January 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    @tipu – spot on. Dont question these to members like w-D. They, in the first place did not understand the issue and answers or do not want to understand as they r big bloody DUDs. They cannot rise above english vinglish and dumb husband eater sridevi or khiladi bhaiya akki SIR.

    1. ank_16n
      ank_16n
      January 29, 2013 at 11:13 PM

      though i agree with u about certain things u said about WallD but whats the difference between u and WallD when u are bring the names of sridevi or Akshay kumar……..just for the sake of it..!!

      didn’t expected this from u but what can i say …….u urself defined this “”They, in the first place did not understand the issue and answers or do not want to understand as they r big bloody DUDs.””

  5. ady_koolz
    ady_koolz
    January 29, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Haters Listen to SRK response in Media !!!

    1. ank_16n
      ank_16n
      January 29, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      i have not listened yet …can u tell me whether SRK Bashed Rehman malik for his Statements ??
      or did he said any thing about Hafiz sayeed??

      what did he said actually can u elaborate ??

  6. ady_koolz
    ady_koolz
    January 30, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    @ank_16n

    He read a long statement…Here is the link

    http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/read-shah-rukh-khan-s-statement-on-controversy-over-his-article-323901

    There is no jingoism here ….It is sad that a person have to prove his patriotism..

    1. ank_16n
      ank_16n
      January 30, 2013 at 12:38 AM

      i have posted what he said in the event(cnnibn article) u can comment on that post..!!

  7. Alfa.one
    Alfa.one
    January 30, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    @ank – I also never expected these type of comments or posts from u (did u see any comment from me criticizing u before ?) , as I was thinking u r one of the sensible guys here on NG and unlike some D who knows only how to hate and put hate articles here on this forum. U have posted the article but didnt read it. Now asking has he (SRK) reacted on Malik or not. When Ady Coolz put the link u said u have not listened.

    SOOOOO, please dont write before getting into full issue and act like DUDs or DUMBOs, which I firmly believe YOU ARE NOT !!

    1. ank_16n
      ank_16n
      January 30, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      “”U have posted the article but didnt read it. Now asking has he (SRK) reacted on Malik or not.””

      u can check the time i made comment and when i posted article….
      comment towards Ady_coolz was before after that i searched the news read it and posted it… and asked him to comment on that article what’s wrong did i do ??

  8. Serenzy
    Serenzy
    January 30, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    “LOL D has never made any sense so its better u leave arguing with him”

    ‘LOL-D’

    Hahahahahahahaha…
    ROFL… LMFAO!
    :D :D :D

    Great Find JHOS!
    :bow:

  9. Dino
    Dino
    January 31, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Super excited for this one. Ofcourse BO collections will be low as its not a mass friendly genre. However, looking fwd to a nice entertaining movie with adequate amt of twists and turns. Could be another OMG moment for Akki.

  10. Dino
    Dino
    January 31, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    Oops I posted my comment on the wrong thread.

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