As an actor, Kamal Haasan has consistently dared to be different, consciously seeking to avoid going with the flow.
An avowed rationalist, he had refused to be cowed down by vehement protests from Islamic fringe groups over a few of his recent films that were said to have left him in near financial ruin.
But what he said yesterday, questioning intellectuals returning their awards over rising intolerance in the country, appeared to be a passive surrender.
I would still not describe it as capitulation to the growing might of Hindutva forces. It was uncharacteristic of him as it offered room for one to speculate that it was aimed at protecting his personal and commercial interests.
Majoritarian View: And why not? Having borne the brunt of minority assault on his honest attempts to essay incisive roles tackling topical controversial roles with no apparent prejudice he may not want to face the wrath of the majority community as well!
Kamal Haasan has perhaps sensed the pulse of the people. Barring small sections of the intelligentsia the entire nation is swayed by everything Prime Minister Narendra Modi does. So the actor has risked nothing by seeming to show solidarity with the BJP and the RSS.
Interview: I view Kamal as one of the finest actors India has seen and without question the most versatile. I have always been a Kamal fan. That was one reason why I interviewed him about three decades ago when I was in college while simultaneously editing a registered youth magazine.
But his stand against the intelligentsia is a lame instance of opportunism even if I respect his opinion. That is his right just as my opinions are mine.
Extreme Intolerance: Still, I do not have hesitation in stating that Shah Rukh Khan showed greater courage and conviction in taking a clear stand on intolerance harming India’s interests.
It attracted a vitriolic barrage against him both online and from BJP elements. He asked them all to “just shut up“. Rightly so! And they were proving him right!
But when a BJP leader used nasty words against the Bollywood megastar, his fans came out in full force supporting him. One even posted: “support BJP but not fools like Kailash Vijayvargiya”
LinkedIn Comment: A few days ago I saw a post in LinkedIn about the significance of the cow for an Indian. It attracted many comments, all from Indian professionals, who endorsed the post. One reader, though, had an issue with it and another curtly reacted, saying: “It is our country and if you want to live there you have to live by our rules.”
This is the kind of statement we hear from BJP thugs often. When it comes from a professional it is an indication of how deep-seated such an opinion is in India. Let’s remember India belongs to the minorities as much as it does to the majority community. So, no one has any business questioning their right to live in the country.
G Joslin Vethakumar