The Sunday Leader

Salman Khan in Colombo-Genghis Khans in K’gala

Bollywood’s male heartthrobs appear to think that Sri Lanka’s political fields are easy grounds for them to rampage through when they feel like it. Remember Bollywood’s Shah Rukh Khan was here during equally tense political times when he staged a show on Race Course Square ‘Temptation 2004’? A grenade was flung into a VIP section of the crowd killing two persons and injuring 11 others. Among the injured was Ven. Omalpe Sobitha thero, JHU parliamentarian. The show was abandoned and the King of Bollywood  beat a hasty retreat back home.

Another of Bollywood’s stimulators of cardiac palpitations, Salman Khan was  here last week along with his Sri Lankan side-kick lady (as Bollywood literature describes her) Jacqueline Fernandez causing political tremors a few days before the presidential election. Common Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena alleged that Khan was paid a colossal Rs.400 million to do propaganda work for President Rajapaksa which was denied by Khan’s partner Jacqueline (former Sri Lanka beauty queen)  Salman Khan was here to do charitable work—distribute cataract lenses to the needy, she said.

The 40- inch- chest, 30- inch- waist and 17- inch- biceps, Mumbai hulk, indirectly caused a furore when a demonstration of Sri Lankan artistes at Kurunegala was attacked by a group of allegedly pro- president supporters.

 

Charity and politics

Government critics alleged that while Salman Khan was supporting Mahinda Rajapakse, Genghis Khans had attacked Sri Lankan artistes at Kurunegala. (The allusion Genghis Khans was to the legendary Mongol leader who led his hordes from China to Europe massacring every living person in his way.)

Rajapaksa critics were obviously attempting to project  the impression that Bollywood  hulks were preferred to Sri Lankan ones whereas Rajapaksa defendants were saying that they had little or nothing to do with the arrival of Salman Khan and that he was visiting Sri Lanka on his own to do charity work. However pictures of the scion of the Rajapaksa clan, Namal, and the father with Salman suggested some sort of nexus with the Khan.

The issue of whether Salman Khan and Jacqueline arriving in Lanka for propaganda work for Rajapaksa or not will disappear after the election but the question whether this country has sufficient film/TV artistes for our own propaganda will remain despite such intense discussions in public lectures and the media for decades on the development of Sinhala cinema in this country. (Sinhala  Cinemawa Negi sitiya uthui.)

 

Fading stars

Film artistes were drawn into political propaganda commencing in the late sixties and more so in the seventies with the introduction of TV. The UNP was the first to resort to film stars on stage. Left parties particularly those led by Marxist purists found it distasteful to stage Bajjaw on stage because politics was a much more serious matter than song, dance and sex appeal. But their SLFP partners being a petit bourgeois party brought the artistes on.

Soon, artistes became a regular feature at political rallies with Gamini, Malini, Joe, Vijaya etc.  But in the second decade of the 21st Century old stars have receded far into the distance, even beyond the Great Divide and even those remaining are twinkling at a distance. There is some still showing star power on stage such as Malini but there is a short fall in supply from the new generation.

In the absence of the of the emergence of Sri Lankans   in sufficient numbers to set Sri Lankan hearts—young and old galloping,  will we have to resort Indian imports? There are international implications too. Gerontocrats   of the South Indian Cinema Muthuvel Karunanidhi and Jayaram Jayalalithaa and those of lesser political orders are breathing fire on Indian film stars who perform in Sri Lanka.

Vaiko, an up and coming Sri Lankan baiter, called Salman Khan betrayer and traitor for these current endeavours in Lanka. Elaventhan another rising political star in Chennai called similar names at Salman Khan. Khan whose father is Muslim and mother Hindu has been asked to go to Pakistan whenever he had ruffled the feathers of the Hindutva establishment.

No doubt Sri Lanka should be able to produce its own heart throbs both male and female but it is hard to beat our billion strong neighbour in hulk, curves and other things. Transmigration of people is impossible to stop. Even India’s Khans came through Khyber Pass. Till the time comes let’s be contended saying: Small is beautiful.

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