Friday, May 8, 2015

What’s in a name!!!

I would say there is everything in a name; good or bad is what we have to decide. You must be wondering what I am talking about. Well if you have missed the recent Bollywood drama involving the ‘Dabangg’ man Salman Khan then let me give you a sneak peek into the recent developments to the 13 year old story. It was the fateful night of September 2002. A soaking drunk, high flying Bollywood celebrity, recently heartbroken, decided to drive his imported Land Cruiser back home. Having driven for a while he loses control of the convertible sedan and rams it over 4 pavement dwellers. 1 died 2 severely injured and 1 crippled for life. The case dragged for 13 long years and in these 13 years the victims retreated to life in the oblivion (apart from the one dead) and the star went to bag projects worth crores of rupees. After 13 years when finally the most delayed verdict was delivered, the social network and the Dabangg’s friends jumped into action; defending and accusing. 

“Pavements are not for sleeping”, said one of the friends. Pavements are not for driving cars either, isn't it!

“He is a nice person with a golden heart”, another said. Every person is nice, no one is a born ‘Satan’; but actions speak louder than words!

“He has shaped more lives. What’s the harm if he has taken one in that process” (Okay this is a derived meaning; no one has actually put the feeling into words). What about the lives of the victims he hasn't cared to shape? What about the family of the victims he hasn't thought to care?

Being Human after killing humans doesn't make you a Human. You are still a perpetrator who cared less about the law and the people. What makes you a human is caring about the people who have been the victims; who have been left behind. If your name makes a difference then why not make something out of that name! There must be something in your name that has made you the victim in spite of being the accused and the victim has vanished into thin air.

Reports of how much revenue Bollywood will lose because of the 5 years of exile is hitting the headlines, but how life has been for the innocent, homeless victims doesn't even make to the side-lines of the newspaper. Forget about remembering the victims, we do not even know their names. And adding to the predicament, how many of the ordinary people accused of similar crimes get bail on the same day? There are scores of people with the same crime but with a different name and different social status who have been languishing behind the bars for years without getting bail. Such is the power of a name!

In the year 2006, Alistair Pareira, son of a rich businessman from Mumbai killed seven construction workers sleeping on the pavement and injured eight. He was awarded a 6 months jail sentence by the Sessions Court which was later extended to 3 years and a fine of 5 lakhs by the High Court. So much for taking 'Seven' lives!

In 1993 another Bollywood celebrity brat Puru Rajkumar crushed 2 people under his wheels. It was the first case of drunk driving for any Bollywood celebrity who had cared little for these pavement dwellers under the influence of alcohol. But no case was registered in his name; infact he was allowed to go without even an FIR let alone charges of homicide and a fine of 1 lakh rupees. Such is the power of name and money. 

Recently Aishwarya Rai Bachchan posed for an ad of Kalyan Jewelers where the greenish blue eyed diva was seen sitting on a couch with a dark and skinny boy in the background holding an umbrella. People started talking around how racist the ad is; how the dark boy in the background and a strikingly fair lady sitting in front on the couch reflects our colonial mentality; how the ad projects child labour in the spot light. The more the people spoke, the more meanings to the ad were derived resulting in a public apology from the ignorant diva and taking down of the advertisement by the company.

Drunk driving is not a rare phenomenon in our country. Ordinary people who crush other ordinary people under their imported wheels are infamous in my country. Then why Salman Khan going to jail created such buzz. Again as I said it’s all in the name. An example has to be set, even if the example has been delayed for 13 years, that everyone is equal in front of the law. Whether it is Sanjay Dutt possessing an illegal arm; Salman Khan crushing a man under his wheels or Salman Khan killing a black bug in 2009, you flout the law and law will catch up with you. A celebrity’s name comes with its share of glamour and responsibilities. In some parts of the country a certain celebrity is treated like God himself. So can ‘He/She’ make mistakes? And if he/she does will it be forgiven and forgotten? Again it’s all in the name; the name comes with influence, mass influence. In a vast country like ours, if ordinary people make mistakes, it is forgotten, but if a celebrity makes a mistake even if it is out of ignorance we derive various connotations out of it. These connotations are neither forgotten nor forgiven. Setting examples with the name of the celebrity, whether it’s no driving when drinking or polio eradication from the country, endorsing of a product or highlighting the various social evils creeping in our society, tends to mass appeal. Salman Khan might be a gem of a person; he might be doing extraordinary work in helping people through his charitable organisation; he must be a great friend and a good son, but that doesn't give him the right to ruin lives. A reality which can neither be forgotten or forgiven because being Salman Khan the celebrity is not equal to the Salman Khan from my neighborhood and if being Salman Khan is equal to being Salman Khan from my neighborhood then Being Human and Being Equal is what we should strive to achieve without Being Biased.

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