An honest man is always a child, says Shah Rukh Khan

Saturday, 21 December 2013 - 9:26am IST | Agency: dna

  • Dabboo Ratnani dna

Sagittarius:  The Sagittarius is really a centaur — the lower half is horse, the upper half is a man. The man is holding a bow with an arrow aimed upwards toward the sky. This symbolises the Sagittarian’s drive to overcome basic animal instincts by aiming his thoughts into the divine realms of the heavens. Sagitterians are frank, honest, straigthforward, fearless and generous.
Some of these strong traits, however, may border on to eccentricity or tactlessness in archers.
Candid as they are, they pride themselves for being able to call a spade a spade.

Honest and straightforward. Two words which conjour up images of uprightness and candour. I jumped at the opportunity to write about these traits, as I think of myself being quite straightforward. Actually everyone does. Also, because straightforwardness is one of those virtues that I believe, is most over-rated. Those who pride themselves at being blunt are often just covering for being obnoxious and what’s more, their bluntness is usually selective. They use it as a tool to allow themselves the prerogative of judgment that is simply another way of saying ‘I am better than you are’. Unfortunately, anyone who lives within that delusional mind-frame is in for a rude shock!

I’ve noticed the same people who choose to be ‘blunt’ with me when the chips are down turning turtle and gushing away at more suitable times. I so often meet these blunt people at parties, who say with tremendous self importance, ‘I don’t watch Hindi films. I don’t find them intellectually stimulating blah...blah...blah...’ More often than not they have the famous Amitabh Bachhan hairstyle, sidelocks and all... a Krrish cut suit and I am sure if I lift their sleeve up, their forearm would have a tattoo with the legend, Mera baap chor hai. But more about this dichotomous species in some other sunsign.

The other thing I find very amusing is when someone talks to me in a ‘straightforward’ manner, in front of a bunch of onlookers just to be able to prove that they can. Living a public life often means that people will come up to me feeling entitled to say the strangest things. There are times when this is endearing but others when it is downright rude.

Endearing: ‘Hey my grandma will be so happy I met you. She always says, look at SRK, he has so many limitations but still works hard and has done well for himself.’ Nice. Encouraging. I smile and say thank you. ‘Give my love to your grandma, she is right.’

 Rude: ‘Hey my grandma really likes you. But you are so thin and small. In movies do they do special effects to make you look better??’ Not nice. Discouraging.

I don’t smile and walk on. From behind I hear her again. ‘Hey, we are the ones who made you. Don’t be so PROUDY’. Rude. Bad upbringing. Or drunk.

I want to turn and say, ‘Aunty Ogre, thankfully you didn’t make me. My mom and dad did, on a romantic moonlit night. Besides I look thin because you are fat and frumpy and you are, very LOUDY’. I don’t. I am too dishonest to retort. Instead, I walk on hoping that a piano falls on her head and squashes her and her alligator skin handbag with it.

There’s no beauty in being offensive just to make a point out of your straightforwardness. It’s ugly in fact. Ugly like Aunty Ogre.

Honesty on the other hand, is a quality that Sagittarians and people of calibre do have and ought to be proud of.

When I watch the news these days, I see people peddling their honesty, making a business out of it. There can be no greater dishonesty than this in my view. To be honest demands an inner truthfulness. It’s not about being able to say things to people to their faces. It’s about knowing who we are inside and abiding by it with the humility to understand that failing, confusion, and imperfectness belong as much to us as they do to everyone else. There is nothing exhibitionist about being honest, in fact its beauty lies in its quiet introversion.

If we look around us, whether it is politicians asking for votes or the media asking us to believe tall stories or debates on TV that are judging others on the basis of claiming their own integrity, or for that matter even ads marketing products or superstars selling dreams. People are constantly being asked to buy into honesty. The paradox is that the entire structure in which these ideas are presented to us is actually inherently dishonest and external.

Everyone knows lots of politicians will bend the rules when it comes to it, everyone knows the media runs on an economy of advertisement revenues mostly, everyone knows that ads are soliciting business and superstar’s lives are not dreamlike yet all of it “sells” in the name of honesty. It’s almost as if the entire world has tacitly agreed to be part of one enormous lie for fear of acknowledging its own truth. Very sweeping, extremely angsty and a generalising statement.
But we are writing on honesty, right?

I like honest people because they don’t shy away from the truth of their own ordinariness and fallibility. That is the most beautiful thing about them. In fact, it is the most beautiful thing about the world we live in: that it is imperfect and its imperfections give rise to creativity and beauty. It is through this very imperfection that life is constantly renewed and replenished.

Even science has proved that were it not for imperfection, life would not have to adapt and regenerate, new species would not be born and the world might not have evolved as it has over millennia. We would all be honest, straightforward Amoebas at best.

Being both a creative person and one whose profession renders him public, I straddle the line between perfect and imperfect in a nearly surreal manner. I deal in dreams, dreams are the epitome of perfection, but I do so in the flagrant flourish of my imperfections on a moment to moment basis.

Scenario in a movie : The night is young. It always is. In the movies we are obsessed with youth. The stars shine bright, they always do. in the movies we are obsessed with stars too. I hold out my hand and look at the woman in love with someone else, and say, “Look into my eyes. Deep into my eyes…now come close…closer…closer…closer.” That’s it. With the appropriate music playing in the background the most beautiful of ladies have jumped into my arms and we have teleported to Switzerland for a song.

Real life scenario : It’s hot and stuffy. Lunch time. Parking lot of a building, badly in need of a paintjob and some pending corporation permissions. I hold out my hand and look at the woman in love with someone else’s boyfriend and say, “look into my eyes. Deep into my eyes…now come closer…closer…closer…closer. Chances are that I will be slapped. Or if not, then the girl will tell me honestly, “As much as I would like to look into your eyes, deep into your eyes, the problem is your sensual, big aquiline nose is coming in the way.” And that will be that. I will cross the rest of the parking lot, explaining to the watchman, I was only asking the lady from the sixth floor for directions.  That’s the good part about selling dreams in movies. Everyone, including my heroines, know how to look beyond their noses, and more importantly… mine.

I sometimes imagine a world in which everyone acknowledged their fallibility.

Imagine a politician telling you he was actually dishonest. Or at least assuring us that he was honest enough, that once he is bought, he will remain bought.

A news anchor somberly telling you, that he/ she has no interest in changing society, but the debate that follows is good for the TRPs. It’s just my job.

A cola company finally accepting that their diet version does not qualify as a health drink. But drink it anyway  because the movie star says so, though he himself only drinks nimbu paani.

Or a Bollywood superstar, who instead of a no smoking message at the beginning of the feature states in the black and white public service film, “I made this film to make more money than I already have, not because I have limited resources, but because I am greedy and have limited talent. Enjoy.”

If only we were less insistent upon “telling the truth” than we were upon understanding our own truths and just quietly trying to live them. In fact, if we were just able to view people’s actions through the prism of their own truths, we wouldn’t rush to judgment and condemnation as we so easily do. Perhaps we would cause a lot less hurt too.

It’s like the paradox of trying to “teach” our kids to be honest when in fact they are actually already more honest than we are just by virtue of their innocence. To experience that innocence and honesty, all you have to do is look into their eyes. They are happy to be just, ‘alive’. Then they grow up and begin to discern the dynamics of lying so we begin to classify lies for them: “Saying I’m not home when someone is on the phone is ok, but saying I didn’t steal the candy when I did is not.”
“If you get into a fight at school, you come and tell us first. Don’t lie about it. But when you see mom and dad fight at home, it’s our family matter. Don’t tell anyone. As a matter of fact, mom and dad never fight”

They grow up further and realise that a lot of the beliefs they built their childhood on were possibly untrue. And soon the truth becomes a disappointment when it ought to be that which frees them and renders beauty to their lives.

Perhaps we should let them be. Not try to “teach” them this and that all the time. A child is, after all, the most representative truth of the natural human capacity for purity. Children come into this world devoid of a framework within which to judge others. We build this framework for them, most often, we do so in the shadow of a similar framework our experiences have created in our own minds.
Unfortunately, in our quest to protect and teach them, we strip them of their inherent honesty. I’d have liked to give my children the gift of honest eyes to compliment their honest hearts. At least until they grow up enough to think themselves capable of figuring the world out according to their own notions. I’d have liked to let them look at the world through the eyes they were born with, without the contamination of adulthood. (I haven’t still let onto my kids, that Santa Claus does not exist, so anyone reading this, keep it to yourselves.)

Having said that, once we reach adulthood, it does become that much more difficult to live our truths. How many of you have tried the honest answer to your wife’s query, “Dear, do you think my bum looks big in this dress?”

How many of you at the end of a romantic first date suggested a cup of coffee back in your pad, instead of an invitation for a sexual congress in your car?

How often have you asked people, “How are you?”, when frankly my dear, you don’t give a damn.
I know I have done it often. I have done my base voice hoarse whisper, talking to girl on the phone. I would paste a picture of Brad Pitt, as mine, on the Facebook, if I wasn’t so well known. Drat!
And how many of you have secretly loved the machismo claim of Mike Tyson privately, but have distanced yourself from it publicly. The one where he honestly states, “I want to rip his heart and feed it to Lennox Lewis. I want to kill people. I want to rip their stomachs…”

The truth is that we all have our moments, where ‘Honesty is the best policy’, is just a quotable quote. We just need to be honest enough to accept it and without being judgemental, move on, because ‘when you judge others, you do not define them, instead you define yourself’ (Earl Nightingale).

I do try though, now and then to be honest. I end up slapping someone who gets on my nerves or making a nuisance of myself in packed stadiums because keeping silent for the sake of propriety is not my thing!! Once in a while I am even honest enough to chance my life and reputation upon a dream, as I did in the making of Ra.One or Paheli.

It’s a paradox that in these moments of total honesty, I find myself removed and alone from the rest of the world. I have to pretend I regret them to redeem myself, but since we’re honestly discussing honesty here, let me confess. I don’t really feel sorry for being me. The pursuit of perfection, whether it be in anything, honesty or lies included, is inherently a flawed concept. Our standard of life is not defined by becoming a God or the devil. We are humans. We have to be flawed. We are at best meant to bridge these two extremes. I am flawed, I’ll be honest and say it, besides, I’ll be damned if I don’t make the sequel to Ra.One someday or maybe not… honestly, I don’t know.

B-Town’s Famous Sagittarius celebs
Arjun Rampal
John Abraham
Dilip Kumar
Dino Morea
Diya Mirza
Shatrughan Sinha
Shekhar Kapur

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