Friday, 8 May 2015

Everything Right, Wrong & Bhai About The Salman Khan Hit-And-Run Controversy

At what point do we really tread past the grounds of morality?

For sabki aan, sabki shaan, sabka bhaijaan to be sentenced to a jail term is fair. No matter how much Bhai love is harboured by any of us, we would be the first to lob 'corruption' as India's biggest vice at any given opportunity, so it is fair that we accept the dish of justice when finally served, however bland and insipid, for justice skewed to favour the ones we like is probably what led to this corrupt quagmire in the first place.

Salman Khan, since proved guilty, deserves a penalty and deserves to live out the consequences of his actions. This is that post, that considers Farah Khan Ali's and Abhijeet's comments incredibly idiotic, so cue in the disappointment if you were expecting a disillusioned Bhai love fest.

There is no fulcrum of equivalence when it comes to taking a life - had Salman robbed a man (while realistically drunk) and then doled millions of funds in charity to that same person, it can be forgiven. We would be happily ensconced within the realms of morality - where balance is attainable and no sin is unforgivable.

The Wrong isn't the verdict, but rather the execution. This drama has been presented as a spoilt brat's delayed encounter with punishment, which I find hazy. This spoilt Bhai gave birth to and funded the Being Human Foundation, Salman Khan Being Human Productions, guided the Little Hearts campaign, freed indebted jail inmates, adopted villages, given employment to many via his Facebook page and quenched the thirsts in a drought before the government.

Some major criticism, as expected for any good deed in India, is centred around the fact that Salman might have done all these charities to clean his name, put on a facade of philanthropy to cleanse the guilt.

Why the hell does that matter?

To roughly quote Salman from the India Today Conclave in 2014 - "We could do these good things for a variety of reasons - be it a genuine desire to do good, a wish to mask guilt or from fear of something or just for show. I don't know why I do this, maybe for a bit of show, sometimes I genuinely want to do it and sometimes to change my image but for whatever reasons I'm doing it, I'm doing good work at the end."



The truth here is that Salman has saved millions of lives in India and positively influenced even more, be it for whatever reason. However, a million lives saved and one killed is beyond the balance of justice. That one death doesn't lose it's significance in the shadow of this mass of charitable work, as many raged critics have been claiming, but then we shouldn't hide the significance of all those scores of lives saved either.

You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Salman Khan however, figuratively died a villain in 2002 and is doing everything he can in his living memory from thereafter to be a hero.

He has also become the scapegoat of a judicial system out to make an emphatic statement that celebrities can't mess with the law - all well and good, but a claim that is rendered a shadow of a thought when the brutal reality of the thousands of hit-and-run cases not involving celebrities are not dealt with fairly on a daily basis. Are those lives not as significant?

It's hazy, it's complicated and it confuses me. How people who've not touched a sliver of the charitable work Salman Khan has done call him a 'spoilt brat' and paint the picture of an uncaring elite superstar being brought down to ground.

How much emphasis we give to this story, only because it concerns a superstar popular beyond belief and loved by millions, pitted against the poverty that contrasts his luxurious lifestyle to create the ultimate tale of downfall, all to make a statement that is, at the end of the day, gone unheeded at the lower levels and justice that still eludes the non-elite.

At what point do we really tread past the grounds of morality?