Circa 1995, I, like various other boys, was mad assed crazy about World Wrestling Federation (formerly WWF, then WWE, now I have no damn clue). Besides posters of ‘real’ sportsmen, my walls were plastered with glossy posters of Razor Ramon, Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, and the ‘immortal’ Undertaker, while I enviously eyed a (taller than me) poster of ‘the narcissist’ Lex Luger belonging to one of my school seniors. Whenever my dad walked in on me watching the show on television, he would laugh and tell me that the show is a fake and men would die if really beaten like that. In reply, I fumed, hurt, teary eyed, complained to mom, and ‘won’ the argument by counter questioning that how could a thing like the ‘clothes line’, ‘sweet chin music’, or ‘sharp shooter’ be faked (or faced fakingly), and that he knew nothing about the world.
Yes, the world and endorsers fed on my naiveté; as I grew up I accepted, begrudgingly so, that dad was right, and that The Undertaker has not yet died even once. That was the end of an era, era of hero worship for me. After that, all through my formative years, I painstakingly followed, rock bands, writers, and actors, but consciously and constantly knew that they were capable of misjudgments, crash landing a chopper on a tour bus, in the process killing themselves, mistakenly bite the head off a real bat thinking of it as a prop, or die of OD (not learning from past deaths).
I thought most of us grow up this way. But then the Salman Khan verdict happened, for a case that has been dragging on since the days I couldn’t even grow a full beard and made me realize that we indeed live in the times of Idiocracy. Times in which, supported by seriously stupid statements from the incestuous, movie industry fraternity (that has its head so much up its own behind that it cannot smell anything other than its own shit), even the common man is crying out loud about the ‘injustice’ meted out to their God by seriously flawed legal system. These men who don’t know who their neighbor is have suddenly developed so much acumen that they have begun talking about the law and various criminals roaming free while the transformed philanthropist is ‘unjustly’ sent behind bars. This man they say has done so much charity after that ‘minor accident’ that even God has planned 7 centuries in hell for the public prosecutor; meanwhile, amidst all the fervor, one of the village idiots (who (unfortunately for his kids) is a father)gulped poison to support his idol in some way we ‘non-believers’ won’t be able to fathom.
The verdict transformed those busy with mundane hero-worship into philosophers. ‘To err is human’ they cried hoarsely or, in a more pedantic fashion ‘galti to insaan se hi hoti ha, achhcai dekho insaan ki’. These statements should make any rational, reasonable man cringe, and worry about the times that we live in. Not to forget, these unconditional lovers of the star are the same people who blow their tops off and bump up their blood pressure on a daily basis when someone cuts them off on a busy street, or scratches their beloved vehicle; situations rapidly escalate to ‘MayPac’ levels if there is an ‘accidental’ push in a busy public mode of transport. It is sad, that the supporters are not empathizing with the victims (maybe because they cannot imagine such poverty that forces one to sleep on hot Mumbai pavements) but with a man driving a fancy car (maybe because they (stupidly) aspire to be in his shoes one day) and are subconsciously covering their future, fictional, ‘unintentional’ murder.
I pity the nation that has so many hero-worshipers on whom this democratic machinery relies to pick its leaders; no wonder we pick the kind of people who are grey at best, and certified (potential) criminals to say the least; the optimistic hope of the elders in us, the ‘next generation’ definitely bears a dent now, and we should be ashamed of who we are supporting and the precedent that we are setting for the next generation; only time will tell, if our son would be behind the wheel or under it.