When Shah Rukh Khan drove down to the residence of Raj Thackeray on Sunday evening to assure him that Mahira Khan won’t be coming to India to promote Raees, a friend of mine remarked, “Miyanbhai only dares onscreen. Off it, Raj Thackeray ki daring calls the shots in Bollywood.” At first glance, it seems to be the truth. Raj Thackeray has often dared Bollywood, more so in the recent past and no one has dared to disobey him. Not even the King of Bollywood. Forget Bollywood, even the state government and its law enforcement machinery have failed to rein in the MNS supremo. Remember how Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself brokered a peace deal between the Producers’ Guild and Raj Thackeray that paved the way for a smooth release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil?
So why blame SRK for acceding to Raj’s diktats? I am amused to see people saying SRK bowed down before Raj Thackeray. Did he fall at Raj’s feet and ask for forgiveness? Did he beg for superlative mercy? No. In fact, from what I can see it’s a move well-planned and well-played. SRK is very well aware of the trials and tribulations his friend Karan Johar went through during the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Evidently, Khan wouldn’t have wanted a repeat of that unsavoury episode. Instead of waiting in wings for the matter to escalate like it did in KJO’s case, SRK smartly decided to avert any future political skirmish by meeting Raj face-to-face and settling things once and for all, something that Karan didn’t do.
Watch: SRK meets Raj Thackeray, assures Mahira Khan will not come to India
Now is meeting Raj tantamount to bowing down before a powerful politician? I wouldn’t say so. SRK is ultimately an actor. His battles are fought at the box office. Remember he had refused to budge despite Rakesh Roshan asking him not to clash with Hrithik Roshan-starrer Kaabil. Off screen, it would have been foolish of him to take on Raj in a state where the government in power has itself failed to do so. Had SRK dared to do so by bringing Mahira to India, it would have led to widespread protests, possible damage to property, life and loss of huge revenue. Why endanger life and property when a simple one hour talk can sort out things. The best fight is the one we can avoid and SRK has just avoided a massive one using his discerning charm. As the actor says in Raees, “Dhande ke liye jo sahi, woh sahi. Jo galat woh galat. Isse zyada socha nahi.” SRK did what is best for his business and rightly so. With this masterstroke, he has also ensured that MNS will remain silent for the whole of January. Only myopic SRK critics will see it as otherwise.
In the current scenario, there are only two entities to be blamed for bringing things to such a pass. First, the government for not being powerful enough to curb the needless protests from political parties. Two, producer Ritesh Sidhwani for recklessly declaring that they would bring Mahira Khan to India if there arises a need to do so during promotions. Why make statements that you know you will never ever fulfil? Had he desisted from making such a statement, it would have never necessitated a meet between SRK and Raj. But at least now we know there would be no anti-Pakistan political protests against Raees.