Shahrukh Khan versus Shirish Kunder: Thappad ki goonj

As news of Shahrukh Khan allegedly slapping Shirish Kunder makes headlines, Cineswami wonders if Bollywood is losing its mystique

By now the world knows the gory and intimate details of Shahrukh Khan allegedly slapping and/or manhandling Shirish Kunder at Sanjay Dutt’s Agneepath success party. The news is warranted to be big enough to be splashed on the front pages of national dailies, pushing other matters of national importance to the inner pages. The repercussions of the already infamous slap, the thappad ki goonj as it were to quote Dr Dang from Karma, are interesting to contemplate. As if it wasn’t clear enough before, it’s now abundantly obvious that Bollywood is riven with dissensions. SRK’s brave and in retrospect correct refusal of Tees Mar Khan with a director who had choreographed many of his best songs and directed two superhit home productions for him in Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om set off a chain of events culminating in the fracas in the wee hours of Monday. As we live in an information age, most people who consume Bollywood now know details of these events and do not bear repeating here.

The real question here is that due to a heavily mediated society that is in equal parts fuelled by the media in reporting even the tiniest smidgen of information about the stars and the industry and an eager audience lapping up the information overload, is Bollywood losing its mystique? There was a time when Amitabh Bachchan in the days of his pomp went completely off the press. Reportage on him at the time was limited to rumour and speculation. Rather than people losing interest in him, his films roared louder at the box office. Now, the same Bachchan’s most intimate thoughts (or what he would have us believe are) are freely available via his blog and tweets. As for his juniors, every aspect of their lives is mercilessly laid threadbare by the media. And it is by choice. Now that the information flows heavier than the Brahmaputra in spate, the stars vie with each other to feed the media, for, in this day and age, out of sight, fatally, is out of mind. Even the reclusive Aamir Khan who normally surfaces only to promote his films, even avoiding award ceremonies, is now reduced to appearing in a television chat show, thus beaming himself into a billion living rooms. No doubt it is a smart advance promotion strategy for Talaash that releases June 1.

Film industries anywhere in the world have their share of bad boys, drunk and disorderliness and great rivalries and Bollywood is no different. The SRK-Salman divide is well documented and spills over into polarising their fans as well as seen even in these popular pages of BollywoodLife. Some time ago fans of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan used to clash similarly until they realised that their idols were the best of friends in real life. Alas, in the reality of today’s Bollywood, a SRK-Salman entente cordiale seems unlikely given the deep levels of insecurities involved. It seems like yesterday, when after their last spat SRK and Salman made up and danced to Bheegey Hont Tere. Ironically, that was at Farah Khan’s wedding to Shirish Kunder.