Shahrukh and US immigration

So its a pity that an actor of the repute and international stature of Shahrukh Khan got hauled up and questioned by US immigration. The media has suddenly got a focus other than the Swine flu pandemic and a big hue and cry is being made about it-so much so that theaters and schools are re opening in spite of no concrete medical evidence that the pandemic has been contained and that our children are now safe.

This hullabaloo is by any measure minuscule  compared to  when President Adbul Kalam was accorded similar treatment and that too on Indian soil by the American airline guys who were following American laws when they asked him to deplane..Blasphemy! disgusting! the indian media whimpered for a day or two before they got back to focusing on the cleavage of the new it girl on the block

Both cases were Airport immigration scandals involving international and diplomatic protocol and national icons.Both the men-Shahrukh Khan And Ex President Abdul Kalam  have been magnanimous and said forget about it.

Of course -what else will you expect them to say.They are fine cultured men

President Abdul Kalam is granted exemption from checks by international protocol by virtue of being ex president.

Shah Rukh Khan by virtue of being a film star definitely does not enjoy that status-and certainly not on foreign soil.

But did Abdul Kalam pull the persecuted Muslim Trump card? Obviously not. He is not Machiavellian or purposefully inflammatory enough to do that. He’s just a guy who wanted to travel to America on some business and so he did. His silence shut the media up

But in the Shah Rukh Khan case Bureaucrats and politicians are jumping into the sizzling hot  frying pan by issuing immature statements like they will accord the same treatment to all Americans even if it is Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie because an Indian star of the repute of Shah Rukh has been insulted.How dare they? they froth

The fact of the matter is if any of these stars like Angelina Jolie or Tom Cruise or whoever( i am just citing an example) were insulted we would certainly not hear about it.Because they would not run to the press about it pronto. We would probably never even know about it. They would come in to India in spite of the perceived insult, respecting alternative culture and laws, . do the work they have come to do and go back to their homes where they belong. Where they  feel welcomed and unthreatened.

But what happens when an Indian film star gets questioned on foreign soil?That too American?  Is there a reverse cultural economic complex in play here? An almost barbaric subversive one-like we aspired to you all these years-now you!you bloody debt laden losers-you better accept that we are superior to you!We are the guys with the money and the power and the clout!

Yes moving away from our need to avenge our inferiority complex towards all those who made us feel small and insignificant in our growing years and coming back to home turf and its internal cultural workings  I agree that we are are a star struck and bollywood crazy nation.

But to lose all perspective -especially on a matter as frivolous as this-  it is a shame to say the least.

What i am asking is-why are we condemning an officer for doing his job? In this case the US Immigration officer.Yes sometimes in the case of celebrity there is a perverse reverse psychology in play-people feel the need to put a famous person down just to feel better about themselves. But in this case from the media reports i am reading(its my only access to this information) this immigration officer just didn’t know and genuinely didn’t care that the guy in front of him was India’s biggest film star(as those around him were apparently telling him-as per media reports again)

Was that perhaps the bigger problem for Shahrukh rather than the problem of “My name is Khan?

so he chose to cower and glower behind the unabashed minority exploitative trump card once again.

I have interacted enough with international celebrity to know that when it comes to laws and protocol they treat each other as equal human beings. Religion, economics, nationality etc simply do not come into play. Nobody expects special treatment because they have a retinue of body guards and hangers on following them-after all even the Mafia has that. And everybody knows that.

Yes some American officers and bureaucrats-(like their Indian counterparts) have a blood soaked towel shoved up you know where and are desperate to score a point, but they themselves respect their own laws too much to abuse that and put themselves and their meager livelihood in jeopardy. In the west its harder to use influence or pay a bribe to retain your job and these guys are well aware of that

I know of an instance where India’s biggest film star of the last century was treated similarly not so long ago.  But the film star in question chose to take a dignified and mature stance about it and got on with his primary business -ie of acting in movies. Few of us even heard of it.

Lets face it-anybody who has traveled frequently abroad in the west-especially in America post 9/11 is subject to these random checks. Sometimes its a computer that bleeps you off and sometimes its just the expression on your face that pisses the immigration officer off.Sometimes it is followed by hours of humiliating grueling questioning-and frankly-I feel safer for it. I would rather be taken off a plane than be on one that blows up because of lax security

I was almost declined permission to board a London Washington dc flight not so long ago because of god knows what and i was in tears. I subsequently had to wait it out and take the next London Washington Dc flight which was many hours away even though my name is as non muslim or non christian as it gets-apparent even to the most ignorant. I could blame it on the colour of my skin but have enough global exposure to never use that especially because i know that that would be a lie.

I know at least 10-15  other indians/     non Whites /Whites who have been through similar experiences traveling to different destinations across the US.. In a way i have always felt grateful that these checks-(if they could happen with someone as seemingly harmless looking as me) are actually ensuring that the world is a safer place.

I hate to sound like a cynic here but this whole thing reeks of a publicity stunt for Shahrukhs new film ‘My name is Khan’

Its about getting to the delusional stage where a film star can no longer separate the real from the reel.

I hope to God i am wrong-and please correct me if i am

32 thoughts on “Shahrukh and US immigration”

  1. Your observation has left me speechless.

    i dont know what to say except that it sounds so bloody true

  2. Hi Suchitra,

    Grains,pulses,vegetables,eggs,meat are not the only ones that are ”COOKABLE”. Media can cook
    the brains to serve to the minds. Ethics,humbleness,trust,honesty,integrity are only “THINGS” that are “PROJECTED” for the “AAM JANTA”. The truth is “ONLY THE SCREEN IS WHITE”.

  3. finally some sense in the cacophony of bureaucratic, diplomatic and governmental nonsense … it was disgusting to hear SRK throw up the cheap muslim card … and many of the indians were taken in by this … i heard more explosive and hurt reactions from my muslim friends … srk has actually managed to drive the wedge into muslim vs non-muslim divide even further … i have a feeling that the increasing assertiveness of “muslim” identity of the movie stars is reaching an alarming proportion … all for publicity … apparently any publicity is good publicity … good manners be damned … public good be damned and the nation may go to hell …

    these are the same movie stars which get unaldulterated attention and love from all section of the society and at the slightest opportunity they do not hesitate to claim that they are being discriminated … very bad …

    i do not want to watch ‘my name is khan’ and justify the publicity stunt of srk …

  4. I perfectly agree with Niraj , Srk with his whining has only increased hate in the already strife torn world. These guys should stop playing the victim, any more of this and the non- muslims could term this as “REVERSE DISCRIMINATION”.

    Varon B K Sharma

  5. On Friday I was on the Delhi flight…Ms. X from Bollywood walked in with 2 friends/Bodyguards/Boyfriends something…We were in the Platinum Club line and we all were waiting patiently…Ms. X not only skipped the line but demanded a free upgrade in a loud voice…The Jet staff happily gave it to her but did not give free upgrades to her 2 Xmen. She started yelling at the top of her voice calling for the manager and claiming to know Mr. Goyal and that she will report such rude behavior of the Jet staff. They tried explaining that her buddies would have to pay the difference between Economy and business class and they will happily upgrade! She walked off in a huff saying she was insulted by the Jet staff in front of her friends!!

    Later at the Delhi airport I saw her with her Xmen with 4 Kingfisher boys carrying a bag each of hers and literally bending down prostrate on the floor and Ms. X issuing orders in the loudest of possible voices…It was a hilarious sight as If they could the kingfisher boys would have taken the red carpet for her!!

    Anyway it was just a crazy tantrum and we were all happy I guess that we did not have on-board the walking tantrum maniac with us on the flight!

    I am not being a racist here but guess where she comes from?? North of India :-))

  6. Heard that many people of a particular community (its obvious which community is that one) in US undergo much more humiliation every day…its definitely condemnable….

    However when our most respected Abdul Kalam was given same treatment not many people protested….but when one movie star gets that treatment whole nation erupts and protests…even our own Suchitra didnt feel to write a blog then….wake up guys…..

  7. Dear Suchitra,

    I have a different point of view.

    The point is that he was singled out for questioning by the immigration officials for close to 2 hours merely by virtue of his Muslim name and was not allowed to even contact the organizers of his programme over his mobile phone to clear the air. The issue isn’t about special treatment for him by reason of his celebrity status. Nor is he or the media playing the ‘Muslim card’ as alleged. The fact of the matter is that no one should be discriminated against or be treated shabbily merely by reason of his or her religion, colour of skin, national origin etc. and when that happens, it is an issue of concern for all, not just that of the individual concerned.

    Also, one wrong cannot justify another meaning that merely because other Indians/ Muslims etc. are subjected to shabby treatment by immigration/airline officials etc., it cannot be a justification for continued discrimination against/shabby treatment of others on the basis of religion, nationality, colour etc.

    I hope you will see this issue from the right perspective.

    Regards,
    Ramapriya

  8. Suchitra,

    I am with Shahrukh on this issue. Only people who go through this pain will know about it. Just google about similar cases and learn about the struggles that people have faced. At least because of Shahrukh it has come into news. Being a friend (allegedly) of Shahrukh you should be more supportive to him and less cynical. As people think (including you ) shahrukh with his fame doesn’t need cheap publicity. …..

    Anyways coming to your blog, i liked all your postings up until now. Please do what you are doing and enjoy your life.

    Thanks
    Sunil

  9. SHAH RUKH KHAN’S JIHAD AGAINST AMERICA ?

    Jihad (a campaign waged by Muslims in defense of the Islamic faith
    against people, organizations, or countries regarded as hostile to
    Islam)

    Shah Rukh Khan with just a few words has unleashed a verbal Jihad
    against the United States Of America . The huge fan following that he
    has in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, UK, etc have got worked
    up no end as they heard about Shah Rukh complaining about the racial
    profiling against him because he is a Muslim. And mind you the
    collective populations of these countries could surpass a whopping 3
    billion figure. This issue will surely rattle in the minds of of his
    coreligionist’s as also his fans many who are non Muslims for a long
    time to come irrespective of the country of their origin. The fact is
    he has willingly or unwillingly promoted the al Qaeda propaganda
    against America and made a dent in the image of United States of
    America. Now no apologies or retraction of statements can undo the
    damage.

    Millions of people are debating this issue and its likely fall out on
    the net .In Delhi some Muslims have staged a protest In Uttar Pradesh
    the Congress party workers have burned the effigy of Barrack Obama.
    Some Congress and NCP ministers have also joined the support Khan –
    band wagon.

    Ambika Soni screams “tit for tat” she went on to suggest that “We
    should make them go through a hard search when they come to India” Mam
    do you want our tourist destinations to close shop ? There are more
    than 5 million tourists coming in to India every year, by advocating
    such hatred you are endangering the livelihood of lakhs of Indians who
    are dependent on the tourism industry to feed their families. Apart
    from that I am sure you and your ilk wouldn’t want the five star
    hotels to close down.I am not suggesting we should not check or frisk
    the people coming but please do not instigate the masses to commit
    hate crimes against foreigners on the streets of India.

    Praful Patel the NCP minister of civil aviation was heard clearly
    overstepping his assigned jurisdiction when he said that “We should
    lodge a serious protest with the US administration and not allow such
    things to happen” Mr.Praful Patel it would have been better if you
    would not have allowed Air India to suffer a loss of billions of
    dollars of the Indian tax payers money,you have been in charge of this
    ministry for the last nearly six years haven’t you ? Well coming back
    to your not allowing such things to happen, allow me to remind you
    that you could not even stop the ex president of India Abdul Kalam
    from being frisked, checked (they even made him remove his shoes) by
    the personnel of the US carrier Continental Airlines before boarding a
    US bound flight at the Delhi airport. So what serious protest are you
    talking about ? We are not taking precautions for our security is our
    problem, that’s why repeated terrorist attacks take place, the
    American government takes extra care for the safety and security of
    its citizens unlike our govt.

    Not to be outdone in the shouts and plaudits of the throng the tweeter
    and darling of the page 3 circuit Shashi Tharoor(again a Congress m p)
    also chipped in and spoke against US procedures and the torture of
    Muslims in America. Shashi there are more than a 1000 students in
    America who suffer more grueling procedures, may be even harassment
    much more than what Mr. Khan may have suffered, at the most he may
    have got a few scratches on his Luis Vuitton travel bag. No Rajiv
    Shukla, no Ambika Soni, no Praful Patel have ever spoken to take up
    the cause of the hapless Indians been killed, injured, beaten in
    racial attacks in Australia for the last more than three months. Is it
    because they are not Muslims? The external affairs minister S M
    Krishna reluctantly goes to Australia and guess what ? He refuses to
    meet the Indian student community. Why did you go there in the first
    place stupid ? Was it for a holiday at the Indian citizen’s hard
    earned money ? The mentality and self interest of these politicians in
    power shocks me.

    Today the onus is on the Muslim community to stem the growing divide
    They themselves should immediately put a stop to this game of
    playing the victim because if it goes on a bit longer the non Muslims
    could term it as “ reverse discrimination” Already people like Emran
    Hashmi, Shabana Azmi, Arshad Warsi as also Saif Ali Khan, Azharudin,
    Nadeem have been playing the Muslim card for quite some time at the
    cost of the nation.(sometimes I wonder if there is something more to
    it than meets the eye) Even though India has given them much more than
    what they could have imagined, its high time they stopped it as such
    baseless talks can only widen the rift and help create more
    terrorists, as also unnecessarily bring many other innocent Muslims
    under the legal scanner. I am sure these guys
    wouldn’t want that.

    SRK has only upped the ante. He is supposed to be an educated and
    cultured guy, he should understand that when he enters another country
    he is bound to abide by the laws of that land, the USA has every right
    to frisk him, put him in a holding cell, search his luggage and even
    deport him if they want. They are not obliged to grant him
    preferential treatment because of his star status . and they didn’t .
    Was it necessary probably not, was it an error probably yes. The
    reality is it’s not reason enough to trigger off a response from the
    ministry of external affairs. Rajiv Shukla it seems has become more
    powerful than Sonia Gandhi. Another question we have to ask ourselves
    is – Will the embassy officials do their duty with the same eagerness
    for an ordinary Indian citizen? Well if you are a actor with a huge
    fan base why not, cause if you join their political party and canvass
    for them in the next Lok Sabha elections the spoils can be unlimited
    for all to gain from. Four and a half years is not a very long time
    .Has the deal been signed ? Only time will tell it always does.

    The problem with India is that the media has made actors and item
    girls in to demi gods and queens. In Hollywood also some stars enjoy
    cult status. Who can be a bigger international icon than Sylvester
    Stallone fondly known to his fans as Rocky Balboa and Rambo. I have
    seen his pictures stuck on paan beedi shops in the remotest of Indian
    villages where even electricity has yet to reach. People have to
    travel by bus for three hours to reach the nearest makeshift theater.
    Let me tell you a small incident which happened with Stallone .Some
    time back he was traveling to Australia and was detained at the Sydney
    airport for more than four hours. It was reported that he was carrying
    some vials of a human growth hormone as his regular exercise
    supplement. He calmly sat through the ordeal of four hours . Did he
    shout , rave or rant ? No a capital NO . Neither did he crib about it
    to the media. he took it in his stride .In contrast a detention of
    just one hour six minutes to be precise and our man starts whining .
    Not done bro.

    The difference between America and India is that the Americans don’t
    differentiate between celebrities and the common man at the cost of
    national security.

    Another huge American icon Bob Dylan was detained for suspicious
    activity by the police even as he was walking the streets of long
    branch N. J.(Kind of takes the wind out of SRK’s hallow allegations)
    Senator Edward Kennedy of the iconic Kennedy clan was off loaded at
    the Washington D C airport just because his namesake an Irish
    terrorist was on the airport watch list. No wonder not a single
    terrorist act has taken place in US in the last eight years.I myself
    have been detained at an Indian airport while going abroad for no
    fault of mine and I am not a Khan.The “Elites” of India be it the
    President, ministers or actors should get
    “REAL” for a change.

    Thousands of our citizens in India are dying of starvation, hundreds
    of farmers are committing suicides, India has become the rape capital
    of the world and yet all our attention is on SRK no wonder the
    naxalites are getting stronger by the hour. Today every citizen is
    perpetually living under fear. There is a terrorist threat even to
    the hospitals and children’s schools yet our govt behaves like a wimp
    pleading Pakistan to book the terrorists . When this govt itself is
    not implementing the death sentence given to the terrorists why this
    drama ? if only our laws and security forces get more strict and
    stringent like the Americans would we feel more secure.

    Bollywood has always been famous , at times for all the wrong
    reasons. Lets us also not forget that a few big time production houses
    of Bollywood have been involved in human trafficking and are on the US
    authorities black list. The then big star Sanjay Dutt was deeply
    involved with enemies of our nation the ISI as also the Dawood Ebrahim
    underworld and the culmination was the 1993 serial bomb blasts in
    Mumbai where 257 people were killed and more than 700 injured.This
    man Sanjay Dutt just four months back has had the audacity to say
    before the media that he was tortured by the Mumbai police just
    because his mother was a Muslim.All this only goes to prove that just
    because they are celebrities they cannot be above the law.

    Yet Kabeer Khan the film director from Bollywood is on record saying
    “This incidence with SRK…is going to spread ill will against their
    country” What do you want a special rule for famous people?
    RIDICULOUS !

    Shah Rukh Khan is more than famous his films do the highest business
    over seas in America, the distributors of his ready to be released
    film are Fox an American company, SRK makes a huge amount of money
    through his shows in America. Then why his ran tings against the
    country where he has gone umpteen times before in the last 20 years.
    It has been reported that SRK had a couple of years back in London
    made some uncomplimentary remarks about US. People are asking is Shah
    Rukh Khan’s dislike of America prompted by American foreign policy
    and its impact on his co
    religionists .

    The President of USA Barrack Obama has been struggling to create a
    better image of America especially in the eyes of the Muslim world to
    bring in peace and harmony on this planet but Mr. Khan with just a
    small outburst has undermined most of his good work if not all. The US
    is against Muslims has yet again been drilled in to the minds of
    millions of Muslims. Undue advantage of Khans outbursts could be
    taken by the radical Islamists to lure hundreds of Muslims in to their
    fold. The result of which we may see in the months and years ahead.
    America has taken a dent and it will be quit some time before they get
    to repair it at least on this side of the world.

    Celebrities with huge fan base should try to bring in harmony and not
    create animosity among communities and countries in the already strife
    torn world.

    Shah Rukh Khan knowingly or unknowingly with just a few words has
    unleashed nothing less than a Jihad against America OR is it “Reverse
    Discrimination” as the non Muslims would like to call it.

    http://myblog.varonbksharma.com

  10. SRK has the position n power than an ordinary man does not… to speak out what he feels and media wants to broadcast the same. I dont see anything wrong.
    SRK is a star and he does not need a publicity stunt like this.
    Suchitra u being from the same feild are well aware of the way ur issues were blown up tooo …. Media is there to let ppl know wat is happning around n yes they have the choice to choose which news will bring more viewers to watch the news n which wont.

    If media approchs SRK asking him what happnd he needs to say what happnd he is not cooking up stuff here …. the whole event was not STAGED… It happnd for real n can happen to anyone of us … that is what SRK wants us to know he is not asking us to go watch his movie because this happnd… It happnd to him in real life n he is a star so he gets the publicity part of it …. now give SRK a break n yes Suchitra GOD does not have to correct you for being wrong ! you are wrong yet again …. just the difference is that unlike Pooja Bedi …SRK will not write on ur blog asking you for an APOLOGY .. haha 🙂 keep writing

  11. “I hate to sound like a cynic here but this whole thing reeks of a publicity stunt for Shahrukhs new film ‘My name is Khan’”..even i feel the same..a bloody publicity stunt, thats wht it has become.

  12. the law anywhere has to be respected.an officer doing the search just
    does his job according to rules.It is explained that his luggage did not
    accompany him and he had to be detained until it did.Y should any one
    scream.vip treatment is purely an indian show of status.I have no sympathy
    for shah rukh khan.If it is in his mind that khan name attracted scrutiny
    i would kike to know if there were no other muslims in that flight.
    This is just publicity stunt-not by the actor himself but by others interested.

  13. Dear Suchitra,
    This is the first time I am commenting on your blog.Do you really and seriously feel that SRK did all these to get publicity for his forthcoming film?I mean its ridculous to think so!!!Look I am not a SRK fan but you got to give it to this guy…..he was cleared only when the Indian Embassy vouched for him…was it fair given the popularity of the man?When he was constantly pleading ignorance the US officials must have checked his credibility .If a person like SRK is let off only when Indian Embassy vouches for him(we all know that SRK is not a terrorist)then imagine what can happen to a common person who gets into their net.Routine check up and security is all right but to a certain extent … passengers should not be harassed unnecessarily.

  14. Now Madam,

    Look at SRK and Congress take revenge on you! India is pathetic and SRK your fine gentleman is worse than Pathetic!

    So you are now booked for employing a child labour!!!

    Long live free country!

    Rgds

    RK

  15. Dear Suchitra,
    I disagree with you.
    SRK has not done it for publicity.He just made a few calls to Indian diplomats and politicians.They informed about it to media.SRK has clarified and downplayed the whole incident.

    Regards,

    Vishal

  16. I agree suchitra,

    this is 100% true,

    i dont think US men did it deliberately, its there job to suspect, since Mr.Khan name sounds like some middle east , they have to be cautious, if those guys dont know Mr.Khan , he should have understood that he is not popular as he thinks
    since he got that, he is not famous as he thinks he created drama, so called publicity stunts and this is very cheap behaviour.

    very annoying part , politics ppl are involved
    there are few reasons why they would have supported Mr.Khan
    1)They ( Politics ) are big time bollwood fans
    2)they ( Politics ) want to pull him to there party
    3)they ( Politics ) want be on News and get soft corner in SRK heart and get him to there home and there family party

    I would say, Mr. Khan pls. be down to earth, dont over expect things in other country as you do in india,
    you get Bhakras only here to fool around…

  17. This is an interesting point of view which I agree with. We might call it racial profiling but this is essential and this is what US thinks is essential to keep the people there safe. Who are we or Shah Rukh to argue about this? If they questioned him or frisked Kalam so whats the big deal? I get an extra security check many times in their airports and I dont complain why should the others? just because they are known people so they can get away with it? Consider a different scenario where in some Christian terrorists did something similar to 9/11 in India (God forbid such a thing happens) then what do you think our security would do? It’s not about who gets frisked or questioned, as long as it is done for everyone and no one gets a special privilege it is fine.

  18. I think SRK should stop making a big deal out of it.. i live in NZ and go thru all this (albiet subtly) i would rather be questioned than blown-up mid-air..

  19. BTW what authority ?? and with whose permission?? would SRK frisk Jolie & Pitt?????? hahahhahahhahahhaha…..

  20. Dear Suchitra,

    I dont agree with you completely. SRK definitely doesnt need a publicity for any of his films. You know it better than anyone. I am sorry but as a actor you should never have written this.
    And yes, what SRK commented, it was because his name was a Muslim name, it was also completely irresponsible action on his part as an Indian. Definitely he created a division between Muslims and other by stating that. Definitely muslims feel more about that when personality like SRK says it. Which brings DIVISION, which is the last thing we need now in India.

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