Mumbai: Veteran actress Meryl Streep’s recent speech taking a dig at United States President Donald Trump at the Golden Globes was much lauded and journalists here immediately compared it to Indian actors’ ‘silence’ on various issues.
Shah Rukh Khan, who has often faced the ire of political parties for his views, as we saw after his comments on ‘intolerance’ in the country, has responded to the allegation of ‘when will Indian actors start speaking like this?” in a brilliantly written editorial for The Indian Express.
The actor cleverly slams the media without sounding too harsh in the piece. On the comparison of Indian actors in the context of Meryl Streep’s emotional speech he wrote, “I found it very odd that all the journalists started saying “when will Indian actors start speaking like this?” Why would Indian actors speak about a situation that does not exist? If there is an agenda and situation you want us to speak on, then you ask us about it and, obviously, we do speak.”
He also adds, “After Meryl Streep’s speech, asking me why Indian actors are not doing the same is weird. It is like asking me suddenly why I am not playing golf like Tiger Woods. I appreciate what she said and think it was very brave of her to say that in an event organised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Our actors do speak. So do our actresses, filmmakers, producers and journalists.”
He pokes fun at journalists for jostling with each other to gain attention of the celebrities or arguing with each other in the news studio while the panelists are quiet.
He writes, "So, why is it that somewhere down the line, in this race of being the first ones to inform or to be the first ones with a certain point of view, media uses other people? Have the dignity to ask: “Are you with me?” We can both talk about it… Or, are you always going to utilise snippets, bytes, pieces and words to somehow bolster your point of view?"
The actor also calls out the journalists for trying to impose their ‘point of view’ and twisting comments to suit it. He says that they could put forth a ‘point of view’ of his Muslim characters in his last three films ‘Dear Zindagi’, ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and ‘Raees’ but not consider the fact that the films were postponed for two years.
He also says, “I am waiting for mediapersons to get over their wonderful, newly-gained stardom. I am friends with most of them and really want to ask them: Why do you want to join the bandwagon of faceless people on social media who just want to say a thing and become famous? You don’t need to do that. You are someone who used to present the point of view of people, so that I can take your opinion, other people’s opinion, and decide what’s happening around the world. You are the first source of knowledge about what’s happening…"
"Like I have said before, journalists are not used to stardom — theirs as well as celebrities’. Suddenly, everybody looks better, does better make-up and the anchor is the star of every show. The editor is the star of every snippet. Everybody writes an article with a picture. Everybody is trying to lose weight, look nice. When I was seven years into stardom, I used to behave like this."
He stresses that he has the right to remain silent if he does not know much about a topic and should not be questioned about his silence then. “If I don’t want to talk about an issue, does it make you less aware or less of a person?… There is so much noise otherwise. There are days I don’t want to add to that noise, don’t want to be a hashtag. Sometimes I need space to find out what has happened and then decide if I want to comment.”
He also adds, “There are a lot of idiots who will also start speaking up since you are asking them to. Believe me, you don’t want to hear them. As it is, there are so many people on social media. There used to be a “save power day”, when you kept lights off for some hours. Similarly, for three hours, people should not tweet or retweet and just relax.”
No one could perhaps write this better than Shah Rukh....