My Name is Khan: no such thing as bad publicity

With India there is always a twist; beware of thin-skinned Indian attitudes.

My Name is Khan: no such thing as bad publicity

First the facts. Shahrukh Khan, the “King of Bollywood” , host of India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and the object of squeals by young women of Indian origin the world over was pulled aside for interrogation for 60 minutes (or 120 depending on the version) upon his arrival in the United States this month. The reason was that his bags did not arrive with him when he landed.  No, the immigration officer doesn’t watch Indian movies and didn’t recognize his face, a problem that Khan would not face in almost any other country (Bollywood movies are popular in most of Asia, Africa, UK, even Canada).  In London, the previous month, Khan had been presented an honorary doctorate in arts and culture by Bedfordshire University  for his contributions to culture and Madame Tussaud’s as a wax likeness of him. Clearly the folks at Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey did not consider any of this.


Khan was piqued but not enraged, after all Continental  Airlines had just been derided for frisking former Indian President Abdul Kalam upon his departure from New Delhi in April (the deriding did not happen until months later when media found out about it).

Indians everywhere are “offended”. Even a balanced guy like Shashi Tharoor (former candidate for UN Secretary General, author of many books about India, and current Minister of State for External Affairs in India’s Union Government), takes up the cause of the targeting of Muslims in America.  My Gubernator, Arnold, invites Khan for dinner. What the heck for Arnold, do you think you are President Obama trying to patch up race relations over a beer? Even the Daily Show piped in (Jon Stewart, you got  the facts wrong about Khan’s purpose of visit, your fact checkers could have spent 90 seconds on and you would have smelt much better)

Here is what I have to say

1) It is true that Muslims are discriminated against in America. Indian Billionaire Azeem Premji (who is Muslim) once said that the only country where he felt discriminated against because of his religion was the United States. Numerous Arab Americans have shared their personal stories with me over the years. Pakistani born billionaire, Safi Quereshey, who lives here in Southern California and wears a beard, told the The Indus Entpreneurs, how he began carrying a photo of himself with Bill Clinton to airports  as a way to prove he was not a threat.

2) Two hours, Mr. Khan? That is the average delay on any Bollywood concert that I have been to watch in California. My family, friends and I have suffered many indignities waiting for Bollywood superstars to show up at venues such as the Shrine Auditiorium, the Arena, the Arrowhead Pond (now Honda Center), and I think even at the UCLA Woden Center.  Now you see what your fans have to suffer. Shahrukh, I know you are punctual, I am railing against all of Bollywood collectively on this.

3)There is a movie called “My name is Khan” due out soon. It describes discrimination against Muslims in American after 9/11. And stars one Shahrukh Khan. Hmm. I’ve lived near Hollywood long enough to learn two things a) there is no such thing as bad publicity b) there is never enough publicity for any movie. So hey maybe Fox Searchlight should pay the immigration/customs guys at Newark Airport. And Jon Steward of the Daily Show. And my Gubernator.

Me? I will watch “My Name is Khan”. Can’t miss it for the world! Not any more.


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