Everybody drinks and drives, except that not everybody drinks and drives. I certainly don’t and even if I do, I am not fool enough to mention that here, in a blog that everybody will read. Not everybody, but still a large number of people.
That brings me to my first point – not everybody but still a large number of people…drink and drive. Letting friends and family members drink and take the wheel is also the fate of many (Suniye, gaadi yahi chor dete hain, cab bula lete hain – let’s leave our car here and call for a cab instead – is often followed by – arre pagli, kabhi kiye hai koi gadbad? – listen you silly goose, have I ever caused an accident?)
Allowing a similarly domineering man who also happened to be an insanely popular Bollywood megastar is what Ravindra Patil seems to have done the night that proved fatal for a bunch of people sleeping on the streets and later, for Patil himself. Like India’s many quietly cajoling-praying-hopeful spouses/less imposing friends, he must have gently protested once but then given in, taking good luck for granted and being certain they won’t end up spilling a ton of blood on the road after all.
Only the most hopelessly cynical (or deeply complicit) can be blind to the element of courage in the choices Patil made from the moment the accident took place till his death. He refused to let the horror of his colleagues and even his family turning putty in the hands of his overwhelmingly influential and manipulative enemy get to him or defeat his spirit. If digging his heels in like that to defend the truth in chillingly adverse circumstances is not inspirational, then I don’t know what is.
Failing in love gives eternal licence to drink and drive, hit, run, buy/intimidate witnesses, destroy evidence, look for legal loopholes, sign silly movies,…
Many say the shock of being jilted by a certain former beauty pageant winner shaped all of Khan’s choices in life since then. His heartbreak forced him to be the man he never was. To at least one reporter and a few hundred thousand anonymous regulars on the internet, his act of physically assaulting the woman (and later drowning his sorrows in alcohol and then driving, both proven stress-busters) was a way of telling her he was actually quite exasperatingly in love with her and dealing with her act of deserting him.
All of that maniacal behaviour fits well in our definition of the tragic, angry, hopelessly in love, self-destructive hero. And heroes, by definition, aren’t villains. A heartbroken hero is definitely not a villain. Also to declare him one attacks the root of the belief that women, particularly the tall, thin and light-skinned ones, are prone to using and throwing guileless men. Many Indians find their own unrequited infatuations reflected in the life of Khan; and punishment for his behaviour seems tantamount to punishing the beautiful sport of one-sided pyaar, ishq aur mohabbat.
But he has been Human for years now
I won’t take that away from him. Even if “Being Human” is a ruse to buy leniency from the court and goodwill among people, it is still a useful venture. Anyone who fails to see that in his fanatic hatred for Khan has serious problems of his own and needs to address them. It’s alright to support the NGO and applaud it for the good work it has done.