Aquarius is the humanitarian of the zodiac, writes Shah Rukh Khan

Monday, 17 February 2014 - 6:00am IST Updated: Sunday, 16 February 2014 - 6:18pm IST | Agency: DNA
  • Dabboo Ratnani DNA

Quite straight forwardly, Aquarius is the humanitarian of the zodiac. Now let’s be clear, I like people who do things for other people, I also like people who do things for animals, global warming, world peace, underwater creatures, feathered beings, amphibians and pretty much anything and anyone out there who needs a helping hand. I even like the lofty sound of the word ‘humanitarian’, in fact after the word ‘legend’ it could possibly be my aspiration to have it carved into my epitaph: ‘Here lies a ‘legend’ of cinema, gentle and ‘humanitarian’, who smoked his way to paradise and never turned vegetarian’.

I get a lot of flak for not championing social causes and I’ll explain why later, in the meantime I looked up some ‘causes’ on the Internet with a view to co-opting one or other and saving my ‘Celebrity without a Cause’ reputation. Here’s what I came up with:

“David Gracer is on a one-man crusade with a modest goal: To save the world. While some would-be heroes hope to yank mankind from the jaws of extinction by eliminating greenhouse gasses or launching kickass covert military operations, David Gracer has another plan in mind. He wants to save the world through entomophagy, which means the key to our very salvation is to shun delicious hot wings and eat bugs instead.”

I’ve never been big on food, it’s just not one of my things. I guess I could try chewing on some cockroaches and crickets but I’m not sure it would save much more than my ever-growing eccentricities. Instead I could do my own version of ‘saving the world through my stomach’ by getting myself an eight pack.

My daughter and I were watching Two Broke Girls the other day. We watched the French guy take his shirt off; with all the smugness of a hero-worshipped father I asked her eagerly, “Is he hotter than I am?” “Of course he is, Papa” she replied giggling. I swore I would out-ab that French fellow, out-build his body, out-strip his 20-year-old chest and get him out of my beautiful daughter’s dreams. I threw myself into the gym as if I was Schwarzernegger preparing for his Mr Universe contest (20 years ago!!). The song in the background was of course Eye Of The Tiger and I kept mouthing the words: I’ll be back!

Reps never got repped as much as they did that evening. No man can afford to be ousted from his daughter’s, ‘hottest guy in the world’ count.

It’s just not on. I was counting on being her Mr Universe for the rest of my days.

Two days later, a door bigger than my wounded ego unhinged and fell on top of me. I now have a fractured shoulder, a disheveled kneecap, a scar on my noodle and a broken Mr Universe dream. I’m lying in bed watching TV with my daughter again and guess what? It’s Two Broke Girls and A Half Broken Man!!!

Clearly my ‘save the world through your stomach’ cause didn’t fly.

Here’s another worthwhile crusade I found: The ‘No one gets to do my dance but me’ crusade.

“Ric Silver owns the electric slide. Thanks to Ric Silver and his one-man crusade to stop people from performing the Electric Slide in public, anyone caught doing the Electric Slide will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. On what grounds does Ric Silver think he can stop everyone else from line dancing the night away? Because he owns the copyright to the Electric Slide.”

Now this one really got me thinking. If you’re going to own a cause, why not start by owning your own slick moves on the dance floor. ‘I’m going to copyright the Lungi Dance,’ I thought to myself in a surge of brilliance. I could patent the lungi and merchandise the moves. I started seeing images in my head: Animations, Lungi Dance figurines, top trump cards for different moves, tiffin boxes with Lungi Dance logos smattered across them, the works. I could even have a Lungi Dance police like the moral police that chases hapless loving couples out of parks and surreptitious corners.  

My fan clubs could volunteer their services to this great cause, we could print signs saying ‘The Lungi Dance is SRK’s’, ‘Don’t dance the Lungi Dance, dude’ or ‘Anyone dancing the Lungi Dance will be prosecuted in a court of law” and have demonstrations at the Jantar Mantar. We could even register as a political party and give some of our compatriots a ‘dance’ for their money.

Who knows, we might just catch the public imagination. I could change my look, wear a lungi and become a national hero. My political motto could be, “Jab politics ho jaaye Gungi, tab kholo unki Lungi.” If not my daughter’s hero, the nation’s will do. But I startled myself out of this fantasy within seconds. The thought of wearing the Lungi without a statuesque heroine accompanying me, is unwelcome and as I have said a trifle too airy for the Delhi cold. Brrrr. This dream will have to be frozen in time, right away! I might as well hang this cause up in the Hall of Fame for lost causes too.

The next cause I researched in my Encyclopedia Causica was this:

“Ed Lake investigator of fake porn: Anyone who says chivalry is dead has obviously never heard of Ed Lake. Since 1996 he’s been patrolling the internet protecting damsels in distress from the evils of photo editing software. Ever since seeing a fake nude photo of Gillian Anderson, Ed has dedicated his free time to “investigating” other celebrity nipple shots to determine if they’re the real deal. Because he’s a gentleman.”

Here was a truly wicked idea. I could hire someone to take up the cause for me. No image change, no sweaty public protests, no insanity workouts, this one was simple. Hire a guy to trawl the net day in and day out, all he has to do is find morphed pictures of me and have them vanish into thin air (I’m not sure how the vanishing part would work though). Better still, I could have a guy morph my head onto the French guy’s body and make this appear on my daughter’s screen every time she googled him. “Hotter than me” my last left ab!!

But as I was busy imagining myself materializing on my daughter’s Mac looking like a stud half my age, I happened upon this guy:

“Pennsylvanian man Jesse Rothacker covered himself in snakes, to protest the inaccurate portrayal of snakes in movies  Mr. Rothacker runs the “Forgotten Friends Reptile Sanctuary,” so maybe the frustration of spending eight hours a day trying to convince people that what their home really needs is a few more snakes drove him to these extremes. Oh, and he’s on record protesting that he should be allowed to carry concealed firearms in public parks. “

I’d just have to take this one up over the internet trawler. Snakes aren’t done any justice in the Indian film industry. Every time they’ve appeared on screen for the last 50 years, they’ve had the same sapera tune piped out in the background. They’re always made to look evil and vengeful, appearing suspiciously out of nooks and cranny’s or obsessively following those who accidentally ran over their spouses in another lifetime. They haven’t even been VFX’ed yet (please contact Red Chillies VFX, we have some amazing snake models) and worst of all, women dressed up like bad excuses for apsaras slither about doing snake dances, with scary contact lenses, while the real snakes in the movies come off looking like heroes. Also I have grown up with this confusion, that did Mr.Nicephore Niepce get the idea of a camera from a she snake’s eyes? Bollywood has made us believe that the Nagin takes pictures of anyone who disturbs the sanctity of her copulation with a naag, who incidentally always wears a skirt. I think more than me, the Snakes should form a crusade against this cross dressing, silver chloride kohl in the eyes, portrayal of their kin in the movies. I think I will have to drop this cause too. Sometimes it is better to leave the world problems to snakes, as they say.

Maybe I should just accept that causes are no more my thing than consuming cockroaches is. I doubt the idea of ingratiating myself in the public mind by exploiting other people’s misery will ever appeal to me. I have had enough misery in my own life to understand what it feels like to be a Tragedy Trophy. And I’ve heard enough conversations about people living in challenging circumstances while sipping champagne at charity balls too. This is not to say that I am cynical about all those people out there doing excellent work for the good of humanity. It’s just that, “humanitarian”, to me is just, being a little considerate, that’s all. It’s not a lofty thing at all. It’s the smallest way of doing the biggest things in life. “Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.” Albert Schweitzer. That’s all.

Its not a public thing either, it’s a private sustenance of goodness within the confines of the world I live in. I try.

Humanitarianism is an ethic of compassion founded on the age old idea of equality. Equality is the acceptance that all beings are born with an inherent dignity of their own for which they are owed respect in equal measure regardless of any notional or circumstantial contextualization.

In plain English (now that I’ve impressed you with my brilliance!): Each one of us is due a fundamental respect just for the fact that we exist, regardless of how anyone (or any circumstance) chooses to define us. All definitions are limited after all, because definitions and their connotations are based solely on our perceptions of the world around us.

I saw a lovely interview recently, of the president of Uruguay, Mr Jose Mujica in which he was asked what he felt about being labeled ‘the poorest president in the world’. “Those who describe me so are the poor ones,” he replied. “My definition of poor are those who need too much. Because those who need too much are never satisfied.” It was an interesting take from a self-effacing man who donates most of his earnings to charity and runs his country from a modest farm where he drives his own tractor. He was turning an idea everyone took for granted on its head. In fact, he was questioning the way the world chose to define both him and his so called poverty.

It is really quite beautiful to upturn accepted notions and go about my life renewing ideas constantly. I like to do it with my kids. Their relationship with me is not fixed in the classical sense that children relate to their fathers. I see them as companions on a journey, I learn from them and they learn from me. There is no assumed supremacy between us. I look at relationships through the prism of freedom and growth rather than confinement and control. This may be confusing for other people at times, but more than that, it is comforting. I genuinely believe, for example, that my beautiful starry car, belongs as much to my driver Mohan as it does to me. In fact, Mohan is even more emphatic about feeling this way than I am. This is a comfort to both him and me (and possibly to the car too!). I urge you to try this upside down living for yourself and see how it feels to look at people in a new light (PS: please exercise caution when applying these clever thoughts to your marriages!). I would like to think that humanitarianism is the ability to remove barriers created by the limits of our thinking and feel compassion for all living beings (including ourselves).  As Mother Jones put it, “My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I bide where there is a fight against wrong.” So fight the smallest of fights for the smallest of wrongs. Start this fight with yourself. Your inabilities sometimes to see the little wrongs that may stem from you. Let your “humanitarianism” travel with you all the time, every place not necessarily only in designated causes and organisations. If all of us do that, then we will have the biggest boldest humanitarian organization…the world itself. A little Utopian but as I said try the upside down living for a change. And you can try this at home, its absolutely safe and requires no big stunts.

I read that Aquarians are also the most futuristic thinkers of the zodiac. They’re supposed to be visionaries unable to remain caught up in pettiness or the past. Compassion is a product of seeing the largeness of the world and understanding our own insignificance in it. Both go hand-in-hand. No one would have to take up great causes if each of us made a little effort to open our minds towards each other and be kind every day. No one would feel the need to “save the world” if we all understood the immensity of our universe, its sheer beauty and the wonderful gift of life that it has given us.

In the words of Bob Marley, a famous Aquarian, “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”

I try this in a small way. Everyday. I also believe that celebrities should attach themselves to associations and causes to take forth their messages. The benefits of celebrities being attached to causes are not fabled but real and produce great results in awareness. The combined appeal of their creativity, and public persona brings about a transformation. But everybody is not a celebrity. As a matter of fact being associated with many such organisations, I feel my role is more important as an individual and how I would be if I did not have the celebrity tag attached to me. Therein lies my belief. We all need to develop a sense of not just seeing the cause but the need. And make it our ‘need’ to do something about it.

P.S. By the time you read this article, I just want to inform you, I am back to doing abdominal crunches. I needed to. Crutches or no crutches…I’ll be back. French guy take cover!

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