Shobha De recently paid to tribute to Shahrukh Khan in an Indiatimes article where she said that he is the “man with an important agenda (to save Islam and restore its tarnished glory) and not just an actor but an influential agent for change.”
She believes that he is ready to enter into the second or dual phase of a public life and become a politician. She thinks that “Shah Rukh Khan is the Neo-Mussalman India has been waiting for. He wears his religion unabashedly on his sleeve and has referred to himself as ‘an ambassador for Allah’. She also noted that over the past few years, SRK-watchers have monitored his every ‘aadab’ and ‘salaam alaikum’ at high profile events and commented that he no longer greets fans or anybody else, with the more traditional ‘namastey’. He also makes it a point to acknowledge ‘Khudaa’s’ grace and blessings, each time he is complimented, besides vociferously articulating his feelings about the misrepresentation of Islam. These sentiments are heartfelt and undoubtedly sincere. They all add up to a whole when seen in a larger, political context.
If SRK does contest an election in, say, Uttar Pradesh, he’ll win it, hands down. That’s a given. But will he, unlike some of his other film industry colleagues, succeed as a neta? Be the leader India’s young are desperately in search of? We will not know it unless he decides to take the plunge but most of us do believe that SRK has what it takes to be a 21st century politician, in the international mould. He is young, wealthy, successful and sharp. Above all, he has a dream – at least Shobha De thinks so. He is a man on a very special mission.
At this point in time, we know less about Obama, his real test would start once the Democratic Party goes into the primaries, but the significance of his announcement is tremendous, especially at this point in time when the world stand divided along every imaginable divide. SRK, on the other hand, has been around for far longer and if the US political lingo is to be followed, is thoroughly vetted. SRK, in my opinion, hardly shoots from mouth and if he ever does, he stands by it (he does not whine about journalists misinterpreting his words). His recent film “Chak de” has done a lot more for the feminist cause than many other films that wear their feminism on every dialogue and poster, yet fail to get the message across. SRK has the charisma and can inspire the youth of India in the 21st century. I have seen and met young Indians who hangs onto everything he does, it is no mean feat in any ways but it is all the more amazing in a country as big as India.
As a Pakistani, the 64 million dollar question that comes to my mind: where do we find such a leader/role model in Pakistan. Someone who has grasp on the local and international scene, who is good in his chosen field, who not only commands popularity but immense respect across board, who firmly believes in ‘nation Pakistan’ and what it entails, someone who is neither apologetic about being a Pakistani nor defensive but at the same time does not resort to nonsensical nationalism for useless political point scoring and short term gains. Sadly, we have no such home grown figures who are not only larger than life but also scandal free. The closest thing we HAD to a young(ish?) and charismatic role model(yes, the use of past tense is deliberate) was a passionate Imran Khan who, much to my utter dismay, has turned into a sad caricature of his old self. His politics is divisive and obscurantist. His invisible ‘beard’ is far longer than that of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and a lot more dangerous.
If I am asked to vote for somebody like SRK, I most probably will. After all, he is assured and bring a sense of stability after being at the top of his game for over a decade) that political scene here is crying for. The question is, will I ever get the chance to vote for someone like SRK in Pakistan???