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Superstar Aamir Khan Under Attack For Turkish Visit

Aamir Khan

Aamir  Khan’s  visit to Turkey and a meeting with Turkey’s First Lady  Erdogan on August 15, which happens to  be India’s  Independence Day, has triggered  off  a  massive  backlash against Khan.

Aamir  was  in Turkey finalizing locations for his  underproduction project.The film is titled  Laal Singh  Chaddha. It  is  an official remake  of the Tom Hanks  classic Forrest Gump. 40 percent  of  the film was  shot in Punjab India.  But because  of  the  escalated  Corona numbers in  Punjab  the crew decided  to  move  the rest  of  the  film to Turkey.

India shares  an uneasy relationship with Turkey which  was  precipitated  by Lady  Erdogan’s  recent  Tweet in which her comments on Kashmir were  not commensurate  with the  Indian government’s  policies.

  Two days after Aamir’s Turkish  visit,  India’s radical  Hindu  organization the  Hindu Vishwa  Parishad  condemned  Aamir’s Turkish diplomacy saying, “The love of some  forces including actors  for anti-India  elements  is  increasing”

Panchjanya, a weekly Hindi magazine  backed  by  the Hindu  organization Rashtriya  Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS)  wrote  a scathing article openly condemning what they saw as Aamir’s betrayal . Calling him a puppet  of  an enemy nation the  article asks Aamir why he is shooting in Turkey when  Istanbul supports Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir.

One  of Indian cinema’s most accomplished actor,Aamir   has been  under fire  for  alleged anti-nationalism for  some years now. The  actor par excellence who  shot to fame  in 1988 with the  epochal  love story Qayamat Se  Qayamat  Tak is known for his game-changing pathbearer’s performances in  Bollywood blockbusters like Sarfarosh, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar,  Rangeela, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Raja Hindustani , Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai  , Earth  and  Dangal .

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 Truly one  of  the most beloved  actors in India, Aamir has repeatedly  found  himself grappling with  charges  of  anti-nationalism ever since  in November  2015 he  gave an  interview  where  he  admitted that his  Hindu wife  Kiron Rao was worried  about the  safety  of  their son in their home country because  of  the atmosphere of  growing intolerance.

 The trip to Turkey  is  now being seen by radical elements  as  another example  of  Aamir’s  displaced  loyalties.

 Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri(The Tashkent Files) known for his  open support of  India’s Bharatiya Janta Party’s government policies  feels  Aamir should  apologize  for his cultural diplomacy.

Calling  President  Erdogan a dictator and a racist  who has brutally  thwarted  the  Turkish press Agnihotri says, “President Erdogan  has ordered  the  arrest and prosecution  of  thousands of dissenters …40 percent of non-Muslims in Turkey  have to face daily Islamophobic attacks..that’s  the truth  about Turkey and  this is  the President  Erdogan whose wife Aamir went to have tea with?! Turkey sponsors Islamic terrorism in India.Turkey is an enemy nation to India. Even an ordinary man in India knows this. How can an enlightened  artiste like Aamir Khan who  addresses  so many socio-political  issues  in India be  ignorant?”

Agnihotri adds, “Turkey is among the most intolerant  nations in the world. How  can Aamir who speaks so strongly  against intolerance go to the home of  the President  of this intolerant  nation and have coffee with his wife? This is the reason India is  outraged.”

Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha(formerly affiliated  to the  BJP now  a part of  Congress I)   disagrees with Vivek Agnihotri. Lavishing  the highest  praise on  Aamir  Sinha  says, “Aamir is one of the most intelligent  actors  of India. He  wouldn’t do anything to damage  his image as a leading cultural ambassador of  the  country. So what if he had coffee with   the  First Lady in  Turkey? Aamir had not gone to Turkey as   apolitical representative of  India. He  was there to shoot a film. What’s wrong in paying a  courtesy visit to the  country’s president’s wife?”

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 Sinha, who  maintained  personal and cultural  relations with  Pakistan at  the  height  of  the Indo-Pak hostility feels the personal  and  the political must always be  kept apart. “Let’s not bring politics into cinema. If Aamir made a   personal  social visit let’s not make it into a  political issue.  Yes, I’ve never  shied away from visiting  Pakistan in  the  past  when  relations between  the  two countries  were  not so hostile. I have a  foster-sister in Pakistan. Former  President Zia-ul-Haq’s  daughter Zian is a my mooh-boli bahen(adopted sister). Because of the deescalating relations  between  the  two countries I haven’t been able to meet her  for a  few years now.”

Singer-actor-politician Baabul  Supriyo  who is  a cabinet minister in India’s central BJP government points   out that the  Indian  government has  not  commented  on Aamir’s  Turkish visit. “I don’t wish to comment on the  right or wrong  of  it.But I feel Aamir Khan has at least proved one thing .That, contrary to what the pseudo-intellectuals  of  India  with vested interests  have tried to portray , India isn’t an intolerant  nation. Having said this, I must  sound  out a word  of caution to Indian  celebrities.  In today’s world of social media, everything that a celebrity from any field does is subject to immense scrutiny.One needs to be  very cautious in one’s public  conduct.”

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   Filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan  feels the  times are such that  it’s hard to read into the  motives  of  the socio-political influencers. “Frankly the Indian  film industry’s goings-on are getting so murky and debilitating that a fair analysis seems futile. Now it has become more of a who-detects-what motive everywhere. Of course there’s no smoke without fire.”

    Mahadevan  feels  individuals  in  positions  of power  need to be  more cautious in  their public conduct. “It is about time actors and film makers started behaving more responsibly rather than throwing caution to the winds to attract attention. Our actors and their films are pretentious exercises . They are far from sincere in their attempt to uphold social causes. Fame,glory, power. These are the  three factors  that gain precedence over the rules of art among our actors.”

 Well-known  film critics Raja Sen and Karan Anshuman feel this Turkish roadhump  won’t affect Aamir Khan’s reputation and popularity.

Says Sen, “This will have  no effect on Aamir career.  Just like the nepotism controversy will never affect Salman Khan’s career. Our audiences only care about causes from time to time, but their allegiance to their favourite stars is forever.”

Adds  Anshuman,  “Last I heard India is   still a free country , and people shouldn’t project their politics and beliefs onto others. Aamir Khan can do whatever he wants as long as he’s wearing a mask when in public.”

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