The needless controversy over the film "My Name Is Khan"

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By Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Mumbai, 14 February 2010: No other movie had divided Mumbai in such a manner and come to limelight amidst the controversy and no government had geared up to its release as ‘My Name Is Khan’, a film directed by Karan Johar with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in the main lead. Shiv Sena activists under the diktat of their  supremo  Bala Saheb Thackeray and his son Udhav Thackeray were on the streets to stall the release of the movie in multiplexes and single screen theatres not only in Mumbai but  in other parts of Maharashtra as well. The  reason for this is quite strange. It is not that the movie had any objectionable content, but because of the opinion expressed by Shah Rukh Khan that the Pakistani cricket players should have been considered for selection in the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournaments.

The Shiv Sena that had lost the last two consecutive state assembly elections and being challenged by the breakaway Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) led by Bala Saheb Thackeray’s nephew and Udhav’s cousin Raj Thackeray was looking out for some issues to reassert its position in Mumbai in particular and in Maharashtra in general and ostensibly unite the ‘Marathi Manoos’ behind the party. Hence, the opinion expressed by Shah Rukh Khan came handy to the Shiv Sena leadership to whip up public frenzy by pointing out that Shah Rukh Khan should apologise for the remarks that he had made in favour of the Pakistani cricketers, a demand that was consistently ignored by the actor on the ground that he had not said anything that would compromise his patriotism or love for India and claimed that  whatever opinion he had expressed was his personal view and that he was equally a ‘Mumbaikar’ as anyone else.

While the standoff between the Shiv Sena and  Shah Rukh Khan continued, the movie that was to be released on Friday, 12th February 2010 found itself being  dragged into unwarranted and unprecedented controversy. Already the hype created around the movie was so much that many fans of Shah Rukh Khan and people in general were keen to view the movie on the first day itself. However, Shiv Sena activists went on rampage tearing the posters of the movie and demonstrating in front of the multiplexes and theatres that were slated to exhibit the movie from Friday. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra State government and the police establishment promised full security to the moviegoers and the theatre owners. However, the multiplex and theatre owners feared for the damage of their property by the Shiv Sainiks and the people in general were fearful of the violence that that may have face if they ventured out to see the movie.

Till noon on Friday, 12th February 2010, it seemed that Shiv Sena would succeed in its attempt to stall the opening of the movie in the theatres.  However, apparently under the pressure from the Central Government, the state government  took extra steps to ensure that the movie would be released at least symbolically in some multiplexes initially and later in single screen theatres.  If the movie was not opened on the scheduled day it would have been construed as the defeat of the government and law enforcing agencies and  victory  to the Shiv Sena, a fact that would have shown the state government led by the Congress party and the UPA Central Government  in bad light.

Eventually, the pressure tactics from the government on the theatre owners and the indirect warning that the government would take a tough stand against the arrested Shiv Sainiks and would deal sternly against the Shiv Sena activists paid dividend. The Home Minister of Maharashtra, R.R. Patil himself volunteered to attend the screening of the movie in one of the multiplexes that gave confidence to the theatre owners and the people in general. With heavy police security the film was screened in 35 out of 63 cinema halls as people who were keen to see the film thronged to these cinema halls.

While the Shiv Sena claimed that it scored the victory by stalling the exhibition of  ‘My Name is Khan’, the government had the satisfaction that it succeeded in seeing to it that the movie was opened on the scheduled day, fans of Shah Rukh Khan were happy to see their favourite hero’s  much acclaimed film and Shah Rukh Khan felt elated that he was not required to compromise  his self respect by apologising to the Shiv Sena for whatever remarks that he had made in favour of the  Pakistani cricketers, it is the Constitution of India that is left bruised and bleeding.  The competitive ‘patriotism’and parochialism that has been practiced by some of the political parties and groups have been taking the law into their own hands thus violating the fundamental rights of the citizens such as freedom of speech and  freedom of movement.


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Comments on this Article
Suraj-Belle, Moodubelle/Dubai Mon, February-15-2010, 10:03
I Agree with you Eugene Sir it is needless controversy over the film only for name ‘’Khan’’ as Victor rightly mentioned in India there are many jobless people and Helpless politicians. They can not be happy unless they trouble others and this is their daily bread. If they do not do it they have nothing to do in their life. Bombay is a biggest market for Film industry. Even knowing all these Shahrukh Khan also made a mistake in giving title for his film for which he is expecting now National Award. One of the TV interviews he says that “ I expect National Award for this film or I steal it’’ if he is so ambitious he should have been bit diplomatic and smart in titling his film. Instead of ‘’My name is Khan’’ he should have been titled ‘My name is P**KHAN” and avoid such controversies.
Francis Noronha, Mumbai Sun, February-14-2010, 3:29
This type of troubles are there in India due to selfish motive of few leaders.Problems giving birth to more problem because of these fundamentalist leaders. We in India having freedom without discipline. This will lead to dangerous end. All educated and like minded people should unite and defeat these communal and anti-social groups/elements.
Victor Castelino, Moodubelle/Dubai Sun, February-14-2010, 3:16
"Bele danti achary baleda peenkann kethdege!" - thus goes the Tulu saying. People who have no clear ideas how to develop a country and make it prosperous but still want to rule it will go to any length to grab power. They are even ready to desecrate the constitution. By the way in Tulu, I was told by my headmaster late Shri Deju Uchil, the word "bale" has two meanings - a baby or a plough. Surely, the achary was after the plough and not the baby!
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