Hello World! My Name is Khan…

My Name Is Khan

Shah Rukh Khan has had to face the unjust ways of the world from every corner. Somehow, his film My Name is Khan has proved to be the reel life portraying the real life and vice versa. This film is about an autistic person in the US, who runs into trouble with the police after the 9/11 attacks because his name happens to be Khan. And that’s precisely what happened to him last year just before the Indian Independence Day on the 15th of August, when he was on his way to participate in an Independence Day parade in Chicago and was detained for a rigorous interrogation by the airport authorities at the Newark Airport. And the US airport authorities can really be rigorous in their interrogation. He said this was probably because his surname was Khan. This incident caused an uproar in India as it came on the eve of the Independence Day. It appeared to be  a kind of racial profiling and ultimately, the US Ambassador in India had to issue a statement that the causes of the incident will be investigated. Shah Rukh Khan had just finished the shooting for this film in the US then.

Now, this film, when it was about to be released, has had to face another kind of communal hatred. Shah Rukh Khan objected to the fact that no Pakistani cricket players had been invited to play in the Indian Premier League and rightly so.  Following this, Shiv Sena the communal Hindutva faction in India, has proclaimed that they will not allow his film My Name is Khan to run in single theatres and will cause destruction to these theatres if he won’t apologise for supporting the inclusion of Pakistani players in this cricket League. Their stand is that after the terror attack on Bombay on 26/11 in 2008, the presence of Pakistani players in this League will not be tolerated.

As I write this, Maharashtra government has made large-scale security arrangements today afternoon, and some 2000 Shiv Sena members have been arrested as they tried to disrupt the film screening. Some 45,000 members of Western India Federation of Indian Cine Employees of Bombay are reported to have watched the film today, registering support to Shah Rukh Khan.

The action of Shiv Sena shows the worst kind of communal hatred, aimed at making the society dysfunctional. This can also be called a kind of racial and communal profiling. The Pakistani cricket team has nothing to do with the people involved in Bombay attacks in 26/11, but cricket in India generates sentiments related to misplaced identities that places Pakistani team as the “perpetual enemy.” Associating it with the attack of 26/11 is taking this sentiment to even more violent levels and disrupting a film on this basis shows to what extent the communal Hindutva forces are willing to go to spread poison in the society. This film screening, cricket match with Pakistan and 26/11 attacks are three unrelated incidents, but intertwining them together to achieve the aim of spreading communal hatred can only be done by the worst form of communalists. We have been fortunate that the government has taken timely action and the film is being screened, but the ideas of hatred have already been disseminated.

23 Responses to “Hello World! My Name is Khan…”
  1. John Burgess says:

    Communal hatred is an easy thing to develop, a harder thing to get rid of.

  2. Archana says:

    Thanks, John for your response.

    Bollywood film, cricket, religion and politics – this post couldn’t have been more “Indian,” isn’t it?

  3. Mahmood says:

    I have three points to make –

    First, this may well be an advertisement strategy for Shah Rukh Khan to get publicity out of these incidents, so that his film can sell.

    Second, those who want to do politics on the basis of caste, religion and region should be dealt with strictly, as this kind of politics divides the nation.

    Third, Shah Rukh Khan doesn’t act in films only as a Muslim, nor is he associated with any politics related to Islamic identity. Rather, his contribution in films is as an Indian actor and his films deal with many issues related to society, politics and culture of India, not only of Muslims. Hence, people should understand his identity as an Indian actor, not as a Muslim alone.

  4. lynn says:

    hmmm, so many food for thoughts!!! dis incidents has led NDTV to run the entie news on this story, itself, not that many people complained!!!
    I think this story is significant for many reason
    1. Shahrukh Khan has to finally been forced to take a political stand which he had otherwise had been politically very correct
    2. SRK’s brush with the laws both in India n US creates news on prime time channel, is a cause for concern? not that i am belittling his isse but da focus on his story also means many imp news have been sidelined.
    3.This incident proves that SRK, like many others is not invincible, as they all need to give an explanation for any differences that people have due to their upbringing
    4 Last but not the least, in da real world, no matter how much we try to celebrate differences, differences is the 1st casualty in bringing wedge in the society

  5. oby says:

    I am amazed that Shah Rukh Khan was profiled at all. Wouldn’t he be traveling in first class, well known and certainly able to prove who he was??? If he arrived in the USA via an Indian flight such as Jet airways (love the commercials) certainly there was a way to avoid that whole embarrassing scene.

    Being an American I know nothing about cricket , but if there were Pakistani players that deserved to be on the team due to their talent then I think they should be. I would’ve thought that sports would transcend these sort of attitudes and I would have thought that Indians would want the best team possible. However, I guess they wanted to poke a finger in the eye of Pakistan due to the bombings more than winning.

    I will say this however…there MIGHT be a little something to the publicity angle. Here in the USA Indian or any other foreign films for that matter, rarely make it to the mainstream movie theaters. they are considered “art” films. as such they are generally seen in big cities like New York or San Francisco where they might be a bigger audience for them or in a theater in a heavily Indian populated area.

    But this film is being shown in the mainstream movie theaters so someone must think that it will have an audience of consequence.

    Like Lynn, I do think that differences, even though talked about and celebrated in the real world can get dicey when required to put into action.

  6. Archana says:

    Hi Oby,
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, that’s why the uproar in India – everyone thought Shah Rukh Khan would be recognised by the US authorities. Finally, the Indian Embassy in the US had to identify him before he was let off! Incredible, isn’t it?

    It is being said in the Indian media now that his PR department has used these incidents to the best of the advantage for the film. The worldwide distribution rights of the film have been sold to the Fox Studio for a billion Indian rupees. That’s how it is being screened everywhere. So, the publicity angle is important to study.

    Cricket in India arouses strong sentiments. People take the support to a team as reflections of where one’s loyalties are placed. It’s somewhat like the Soccer elsewhere. But cricket is a game where the team that plays well should be appreciated. Hence, you are right that good Pakistani players should be included in a cricket league.

    You are right, the real challenge before a multi-ethnic, multicultural democracy is to survive through all the rough edges. But it’s a challenge worth meeting.

    Do watch the film if you get a chance. I’ll see if I can watch it and write a review of it in one of the posts here.

    Thanks, Lynn and Mahmood for your comments.

  7. Chitra Nayak says:

    Divide and rule, everything for the vote bank and common man has to suffer.

  8. Archana says:

    Thanks Chitra, for your comment. You are right, divide and rule is the worst part of Indian politics which is eroding our civil life today. The only way to counter it is not to fall into the trap set by the politicians – regardless of their party alignment – ranging from extreme left to extreme right.

  9. pranav says:

    why maha govt delayed in taking action against shiv sainiks. It has now become clear that it is all about politics and vote bank nothing else. cong maintained to go slow on this issue instead of taking stern action against the culprit.. show some courage to arrest the boss……..nobody is interested in maintaining cosmopolitan image of mumbai..can mumbai survive or grow without sweats of Bihari and UPites Bhaiyya….If Bihari dares to attack Marathi manus in Bihar and elswhere..what will happen….!!!!!!!!Pls prevent Mumbai become another kolkata…One day all celebrities including businessmen, bollywood stars and cricketers might shift to Noida or some other places..if this trend continues…….
    as rgds to MNIK. its all marketing….basically indians are secular by nature…80 percent people residing in remote areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Chhattisgarh, North East, Uttarakhand, Orissa are not bothered about the secularism and MNIK..more than 50 percent people living below poverty line are busy in earning their livelihood…media particularly urban those in metros are more about it…film is basically for entertainment not for marketing..just enjoy..who can enjoy….those who have surplus money…think about those who are in majority who are suffering from kala-azar, malaria, anemia, malnutrion, donot even bother to think about MNIK…think of those underprivileged people who are out of school..think of those who have not been treated by any doctor…MNIK is for elite…english speaking sophisticated people including politicians who are privilged to discuss or talk about secularism in their drawing rooms….

  10. sunil balani says:

    Isn’t it sad that after 62 years of independence and thousands of years of civilized history we are boisterous about something as basic and broad as religion which is supposed to be a path to reach the ultimate peace.
    First of all , people like shahrukh , Azaharuddin and Imran Hashmi should realize that it is not fair to bring in religion and cast every time things do not go their way.
    Second Regarding these Shiv Sena nothing can be said because they are doing it on purpose to gain cheap popularity and are playing communal card.These people should be punished publicly for making such outrageously stupid statements.What right these people have to act the way they do? Makes me wonder what law enforcing agency are doing? why are they tolerating such nuisance ? makes me think if we deserve democracy?

    Please check out my post when Karan Johar was in problem with Raj Thakre . Link for ready reference


  11. Hilal Ahmad says:

    Dear archana,
    MNIK has really put the ugly face of Politicians in India especially the fundamentalists like Shiv Sena. The good thing is that RSS and BJP, otherwise not secular party, have acted as a mature party and dared to call spade a spade. This is one plus I find in whole drama.
    Publicity for the film does not appeal me as it is Shahrukh as an actor has a good mass appeal and once Kajol and Karan join they give good and hit films.
    Publicity for sainiks may be a possibility, an act to gain ground lost to Raj’s MNS can’t be ignored.
    Communal act of Sainik- not for the first time. GoI has given permission to Pak players to play in India no reaction by Sainiks. Players were auctioned at IPL no probs no reaction. Mr. Chidumbaram says that it is sad that Pak players not being bought no murmur by Sainiks. Shahrukh says that Players must be bought the whole Sky falls on him it does surprise. The reason best known to Thakery, it is to Revive Shiv Sena or hatred against North Indians or a communal act or all at a time only he can elaborate.
    The sad thing of all that happened is that now Goons will decide which film Indians in Mumbai will see.
    The final verdict was given by the brave Mumbaikars that Goonds will not decide what they will do. This is what as an Indian I am proud of “We, Mumbaikars, will go to see the Movie of our very own Indian Actor who happens to be a north Indian Muslim.”

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