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My Name is Khan and lessons for Pakistan


(Ali Chisti is from Karachi and an anti-terrorism expert from Pakistan.  He has graciously allowed his article to be posted on Drishtikone)

“Let those who love Pak-lover, SRK watch My Name is Khan”, Thackeray and what happened next day would change India for-ever; heading at almost all newspapers in India were, “MNIK Opens to Full Houses”; “SRK broke all records”. Interesting as I write this pieces millions would have already watched the movie and showed the “Hindu Talibans” like Shiv Sena brigade that, “India loves Pak-lover, SRK and indeed Pakistan and India could be best of friends”.

Flashback some weeks back which caused so much “mirchi” to the orange brigade in India was SRK’s statement just after the IPL controversy that, “I truly believe Pakistan players should have been chosen. They are the champions, they are wonderful but somewhere down the line there is an issue and we can’t deny it. We are known to invite everyone. We should have. If there were any issues, they should have been put on board earlier. Everything can happen respectfully. Pakistan is a great neighbour to have. We are great neighbours, They are good neighbours. Let us love each other. Let me be honest. My family is from Pakistan, my father was born there and his family is also from there” SRK.

And India listened to SRK and for MNIK to go on air and became such a success was a moment to savour, a victory for India. A moment when young India pushed back against old politics and the sowers of division. As a Pakistani I am proud of India and I wonder what would an average Pakistani Muslims reaction if someone like Deepak Pervani (wrong choice?) or Justice Bhagwandas brands, India as good neighbours and defends India? .

And that is why India is so different from Pakistan and vice-versa. India is secular and Pakistan is tolerant or atleast a large part of it is (tolerant). Remember dozens of Hindu temples burnt because of one Babri Mosque in Pakistan?

By refusing to apologize, Shah Rukh triggered a civic protest but this time, Shiv Sena was at the receiving end and its claims to historical analysis made it silly. Media in both Pakistan and India realized that Bollywood had found a real-life hero. Civil society, youth in particular, responded spontaneously. Suddenly the Sena looked mothballed. A friend who is a “born again Muslim” like JJ and Ali Haider and often bashes bollywood from Karachi only yesterday after watching the movie at a local theater mentioned that, “SRK did the biggest tableekh for Islam by making MNIK” which made me smile and my reply was that, “then give credit to the hindu and gay, Karan Johar; a sikh, Kajol and rest of the infidel crew too….” And the guy almost had a heart-attack. That is the typical Pakistani attitude to you for a country whose founding father was a Shia khoja; whose national anthem was written by a hindu and a foreign minister a Ahmedi now officially declared as infidels.

Masood Azher of Jaish-e-Muhammad and Hafiz Saeed of Laskhkar-e-Taiba needs to be shown My Name is Khan too and it’s after effects and how old-style “mai-baap” politics of Udhay Thakray and Hindu Talibans can be defeated without bomb-blasts; hijacking planes and fidai attacks where thousands of innocents are killed.

The whole episode shows how if, we the “commoners” of South Asia are allowed to speak for them ourselves and given some-sort of a political empowerment; we would always give out the right decision but obviously let’s give credit where it’s due: Indians made SRK, India and ofcourse, Pakistanis proud of them now if we the Pakistanis could ever, repay the debt? Stop, Hafiz Saeeds; Masood Azhers and Kasabs for a starter.

In the end I watched the movie and found the message to be more brilliant then the movie itself. And since SRK-Karan wanted to make a film with a message, that message would have been falsified if he abjectly apologize to the Sena which he didn’t. Curiously, the theme of his film bled into real life. The persecution of the film has ended up reinforcing its message. This is no ordinary hero. And My Name Is Khan is no ordinary film. Long after the wary-of-physical-touch Rizwan has finally shaken hands with President Obama, long after the heat and dust of racial and communal hatred has settled down the core of humanism that the film secretes stays with you. Bravo!