By Ashok Jahnavi Prasad
There is something grotesquely surreal about the Aamir Khan episode which has escaped the attention of commentators but merits serious attention.
As we all know Aamir ,in the course of a conversation which covered a multitude of issues,outlined his concern over some recent incidents which he perceived as indicative of intolerance . He then went on to state that at one stage ,his wife,out of concern for their offspring, had ideas of leaving the country which he stated was pretty intense given their backgrounds. He then clearly went on to state the he would never leave India.The inference was very clear;his wife’s reaction was nothing more than an emotional outburst!
Little did he realize what he was leading himself into! The reaction to this comment,which constituted a miniscule part of the entire interview was vitriolic and ferocious. Adityanath ,who masquerades as a holy person shed all inhibitions and apart from castigating Aamir in the most intemperate language completely unworthy of anyone laying any claim to religious enlightenment went on to state that his departure would help minimize the population. It is noteworthy here that he used the Hindi expression for ‘population’ .The imputation was crystal clear-he was alluding to Aamir’s religious persuasion towards whom he harbours a visceral dislike. It is significant that no one-either from the NDA or the UPA or for that matter the Left has unequivocally condemned this very tasteless imputation.
There were others like Prachi and Sakshi who joined the chorus. Sakshi,lest it be forgotten was the man who perceived Nathuram Godse as a patriot and has not yet retracted from that position.The Shiv Sena acted on predictable lines-as we might expect a loose confederacy of criminally minded thugs to act! Their comments,as usual were beneath contempt and are not worth commenting upon.
But it was the more enlightened section-journalists and some academics- who disappointed me enormously. Some of the very erudite commentators adopted a position which was not in keeping with what we had learned to expect from them.
Before I embark any further,I must state here that I have not watched a Hindi movie in a cinema house for over 40 years and was completely unaware of Aamir Khan’s name until I returned to India after more than three decades abroad. I was persuaded to watch one of his movies-the one he made about dyslexia-on the DVD for a very special reason! I am a dyslexic myself and had to endure all the hardships during my childhood and adolescent years mainly because of the ignorance and lack of insight that prevailed in that era.
I believe Aamir did a wonderful job in educating millions about dyslexia and people like myself would always be grateful to him. I therefore make no pretences about being an impartial observer. I believe I am one of many who would attest that by making that movie alone, Aamir has done more for dyslexics than all his detractors stuffed together in a test tube!
Here I would like to cite Mario Cuomo,one of the most popular US politicians in the late 80′s and the 90′s. His Democratic Party had fared badly in the presidential elections as Dukakis ,the nominated candidate was perceived as weak on crime prevention;in a television interview Dukakis was asked how he would react if his wife was raped and killed. He floundered.The interviewer put the same question to Cuomo. His response was:
I would kill the man with my bare hands if left to myself-but thank God the Constitution does not permit me to do that!!
No one ever accused Cuomo of instigating violence or murder for confiding that he from time to time also entertained primitive feelings. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether it is in order to convict a person for just entertaining primitive feelings rather than his/her proclivity to act on those feelings.
As a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst,I can attest that all of us entertain impulsive urges from time to time and if that by itself was deemed sufficient for criminal conviction, none of us would escape the clutches of law.
As a Polish saying goes:
You cannot convict a man for murdering his mother-in-law just because he happens to have bought a gun without bothering to ascertain whether the mother in law was really dead or alive!
I must concede that perhaps it was indiscreet on Aamir’s part to have shared his private emotions but am flabbergasted that this very fundamental principle was overlooked by those who hastened to condemn Aamir!
Source: TheCitizen, Nov. 26, 2015.