The hug of the year
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- Published 28.07.13
Bharathi S. Pradhan
A Khan friend from the film industry told me that during Ramzan, the prayers were more effective, the Almighty was more pleased if siblings and buddies buried their differences, hugged each other and made up. Nurturing grievances was not the flavour of the season.
And so it stood to reason that the two top-selling Khans of the entertainment world hugged and called truce to a five-year stand-off that was as childish as kindergarten petulance. But was this only a spontaneous Ramzan gesture at Congress politician Baba Siddiqui's iftar party? If whispers are to be believed, Chunky Pandey's brother Chikki (real name, Alok Pandey) who flies completely under the radar, had something to do with it.
Chunky's kid bro is also with the Congress and has always been SRK's closest friend in Mumbai. They share a brotherly bond that is completely off camera. When SRK visits Chikki, it is in the dead of the night. Chikki's car is one of the privileged ones allowed to zoom into Mannat without ever being stopped at the gate at any time of the day or night. In fact, Chikki's son Ahaan and Shah Rukh's Aryan are also thick. But being true friends, they keep it private; the SRK-Chikki closeness is never aired publicly unlike say, the actor's friendship with Rajiv Shukla. The latter loves the cameras. Chikki is a quiet operator and does not carry tales from one to the other.
Therefore, he is also close to Salman, and welcome to walk into their house at any time. They bond as buddies and if memory serves me right, the Land Cruiser that Salman allegedly drove in a drunken state 10 years ago had been sold to him via Chikki.
The third part of the story is that Chikki and Chunky share a healthy equation with politician Baba Siddiqui. So the whisper is that Chikki joined the dots of this triumvirate of Siddiqui-Salman-Shah Rukh, discovered that all three were game for an iftar hug and photo op, and were all set for it when they left their respective homes that evening.
It was the right thing to do during Ramzan since all three players are religiously inclined. Siddiqui is Congress's important minority face; Shah Rukh, famous for his Inshallahs and his salaams, may not fast during Ramzan or give up his cigarettes but he does like offering namaaz; Salman has immense respect for his father Salim Khan who gives up his beloved Scotch all through Ramzan and prays regularly.
Also, today both face far bigger anxieties in their lives. Salman, for instance, probably has more issues with the name Abha Singh than with SRK. Abha is the lawyer who filed a PIL demanding to know why the police and the public prosecutors had colluded to drag Salman's case for over 10 years when justice had been dispensed with far more alacrity in similar cases that happened much after Khan's drunken accident. The courts have had to take note of her PIL and that's one of the reasons why judicial interest in Salman's case has been suddenly revived.
As for SRK, his skirmishes with different authorities like the MCA and the BMC, his box-office appeal (Jab Tak Hain Jaan was not the blockbuster he expected it to be) and his health problems have been far more stressful than an unresolved argument with Salman. So the hug was a gesture simply waiting to happen.
Interestingly, Salim Khan had once made an astute study of the two actors and said, "The end of fighting does not signify the blossoming of love. Love means that you care for each other in spite of differences, love is unconditional. You think the love that these actors pretend to show is real? Love means if an actor's film flops, the other genuinely feels unhappy about it or if a film does well, the other is really ecstatic. Was there really that kind of love between them that if Salman's film didn't do well, Shah Rukh would feel bad about it or he'd celebrate if Salman's film did well or vice versa? Even if one threw a party for the other, it would be all dikhawa... to show, 'Look how large-hearted I am, look how I am above petty rivalry.' So there cannot be great dosti between two rivals. There can only be courtesy."
We'll give the last word to the wise dad.