Vantage point

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sena SRK Drama

Maybe I am getting too old and cynical, but I am thoroughly disgusted by the two sides as well as their supporters in this Sena-SRK drama. And it is little more than drama.

In one corner, there is Shah Rukh Khan, who has been shedding crocodile tears about Pakistanis getting ignored in the IPL auction. Oh, if only he owned an IPL team, right? The rare occasion that the media has sought to ask him tough questions about why KKR didn't bid for any players, he has given wishy-washy answers and has more or less packed the buck to "dada's strategy".

In the other corner, we have the Shiv Sena, with their electoral fortunes and their relevance eroding heavily. Taking a swing at anyone and everyone, and continuing to pull a shekhchilli by sawing off the branch they are sitting on. So SRK was an ideal target.

Both parties jumped into the pit and have been going at it. Sena is targeting SRK's latest film with typical made-for-media faux-angry attacks on theatres screening the movie. SRK is making conciliatory noises but still sticking to his guns. And both sides benefit. The movie gets a lot of publicity that money couldn't buy. The Sena gets the sort of whipped up sentiments that the MNS has been denying it of late.

I am not saying this is all a "publicity stunt" that SRK orchestrated. But much like the Newark incident, once it happened, he would be an idiot not to extract full mileage out of it. And he is no idiot. It's the same with Shiv Sena. They lambast people like its a bodily function. This one stuck and caught the attention of the media. So they are taking advantage.

The outcome will be beneficial to both sides. SRK's film will get a great opening. The Sena will get visibility and coverage. Both sides will returns to their corners with a win each under their belt.

What has really amused me is the cheerleading for both sides, on the internet and otherwise. Those who support the Sena are peddling the same old tired and fallacious xenophobic arguments. Arguments that can only be won by resorting to raising your voice or resorting to violence.

And those sticking up for SRK as if he is some incarnation of Aung Saan Su Kyi are waddling in lazy primary-school-debate level argumentation. Equating the Shiv Sena to Taliban, a lazy argument yours truly has been guilty of pushing in the past too. Sliding down the slippery slope of attacking the Sena to attacking Marathi people and the Marathi language. And the silliest of the lot - exhorting others to buy tickets to SRK's film as some sort of a sign of defiance.

This is the reason our civil liberties keep getting eroded by Shiv Sena and the likes. This is our idea of civil disobedience - buying a movie ticket. Or maybe starting an online petition. Or even better, a hashtag on twitter. We get played like sheep by both sides, even as they build up their bank balances and political capital.