Aamir Khan speaks up | Voices of dissent need to be heard

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan at Indian Express Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards
Bollywood actor Aamir Khan at Indian Express Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards

The moment the poster boy of ‘Incredible India’ campaign, Aamir Khan, made a remark on
‘growing intolerance’, the sarkari brigade began questioning his credibility. The star, celebrated for handling social issues with sensitivity in his films and through highly popular TV show Satyamev Jayate, spoke on Monday of his wife, Kiran’s concerns over the safety of their child in an atmosphere of growing intolerance. His silence through the ‘award vapsi’ campaign by writers and his film fraternity was taken as an exception, for the actor is known to be vociferous to the extent of lending active support to social issues like Narmada Bachao Andolan and Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption.

Aamir Khan’s comments should have been taken in the context they were made, as many other self-critical observations he has made through Satyamev Jayate on many ills afflicting Indian society. In the present context, these have been colored with communal connotations in the social media war waged between two factions: those who have reason to worry about threats to freedom and those who are just looking for an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of establishing Hindutva supremacy.

The tendency to reduce popular icons like Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan to one community advocating a particular point of view by a handful undermines the tremendous concern they have shown for their country over the years with their body of work.

The boorishly aggressive reaction from the Hindutva brigade is a reaffirmation of the very intolerance against which Aamir Khan and others have raised their voice. The BJP’s cultural warriors have raised a question over his deshbhakti. These new cultural vigilantes have unwittingly shown themselves to be lacking in respect for dissent and disagreement. No Aamir Khan needs a certificate of good conduct from the new intolerant Indian. The new itch to want to shut up any contrary voice or person is most unacceptable.

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