Salman, Ma Ka Laadla Bighad Gaya

Published: May 10, 2015 23:08 IST
The Baltimore riots threw up an unlikely heroine - a determined mother who chased an adult son and smacked him in public, before dragging him home. What was the young man doing to cause such distress to his enraged mom? Well, he had apparently picked up a few stones to throw at the police, who were trying to control rampaging mobs indulging in arson and rioting. The video went viral and overnight, the unknown woman was hailed as 'Mother of the Year' across social media platforms. What was her achievement? Well... she was acknowledged worldwide for doing the right thing; for correcting her boy... and possibly saving his life.

Globally, mothers sent up a cheer for the woman - she had done what they dared not with their own sons - discipline them.

As the world commemorates Mother's Day, this may be the perfect time for mothers across the world to ask themselves if they are doing 'the right thing' when it comes to their children.

It will be interesting to know how Salman Khan spent his Sunday. His devoted mother Salma had reportedly taken ill, unable to deal with the stress generated by her son's ongoing trial. She is lucky she is surrounded by her large family, and their enormous circle of friends and supporters.

Bollywood swiftly closed ranks during the crisis and protected one of their own. Whether the fraternity would have displayed the same level of solidarity had it been a lesser star than Salman is doubtful.

That's how showbiz works - particularly when there's a lot of money riding on a particular actor. Not so surprisingly, most initial reactions out of Bollywood revolved around the 200 or more crores apparently riding on Khan's movies. Bollywood appeared completely unconcerned about the victims of this terrible accident. Their collective indifference to the plight of those directly affected by the tragedy was the best indicator of their sensibilities.

This is where Salma Khan can play a key role. It is never too late for a mother to correct her child. A child of 50 - but still her child. Salma loves Salman. Salman loves Salma. Fine. It is time for Salma to ask herself a few tough questions. Where did she slip up while raising the boy who went on to become one of Bollywood's most bankable stars? Salman has been in and out of serious trouble most of his adult life. It's a bit silly to keep pointing to his good deeds and countless acts of charity while turning a blind eye to several misdemeanours that have blighted his turbulent existence for decades. He is fortunate to have gotten away scot free and unscathed so far. He has had a dream run, so to speak. But that can change in future.

Given his closeness to his mother, perhaps a heart-to-heart is overdue.

Salma is not alone.

Most Indian mothers behave in a ridiculous way about their precious sons. Culturally, this is how it is, has always been and perhaps will continue to be. Most Indian fellows are unapologetic 'Mama's Boys', and don't feel a bit embarrassed about it. Most desi moms blatantly discriminate between their sons and daughters and are shamelessly preferential in the way they raise male progeny. Society endorses and accepts this nauseating favouritism. Sons grow up with exaggerated feelings of self-importance.

Their special status within the family is repeatedly underlined, till they themselves start believing they are demi-Gods who can do no wrong.

Salman's emotional graph combined with a dicey track record both suggest he was raised to take most entitlements for granted. Privileges must have been presented on silver salvers from a young age, and the very idea of assuming responsibility for his actions may have appeared an alien concept to him and his family.

It's tough being a mother. Parental guidance is something that cannot be "taught''. Any mother's instinct is to protect a vulnerable child. Which is what Salma is doing. But what causes a child to grow up in a certain way? Why do mothers hesitate to correct their kids - sons in particular? Who teaches basic values to the young?  Should a mother's love be so irrational that even when a child steps out of line, there are zero repercussions... zero conversations... zero  consequences?

On some levels Salman never grew up. He didn't need to. His life was set.

Unfortunately, there are questions that need an answer this time. Whichever way this case goes, and at whatever speed, there will be those who won't forgive Salman. Nor will they forget the pain of the dead and the injured. That's called compassion. And compassion involves Being Human. Towards one and all.

I am sure Salma Khan will communicate this vital message to her beloved son.

It may save many other laadla betas in India from going down a dangerous road.

(Shobhaa De is an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator, who is considered an authority on popular culture.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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