Yes, brand Aamir Khan has no endorsements. Is it a big deal?

INDIA-ARTS-ENTERTAINMENTAamir has no brand endorsements now. Ostensibly because of the statement on ‘intolerance’ that he made recently.

There were lots of initial reactions and some of them say that Aamir’s statement was …

  1. Poorly timed
  2. Result of poor judgement
  3. Aamir has been ungrateful to the nation that has been his ‘karmabhoomi’

Aamir is a professional who has built his work and reputation in India in the film and entertainment industry. He then turned entrepreneur, producing cinema and content. Many admire his brand because Aamir is regarded as a master-storyteller, perfectionist, marketing genius, actor par excellence and somebody who does selective cinema.

His wife; who’s ‘brand value’, in factual terms is not in the same league as Aamir’s, spoke to Aamir in private about India’s intolerance. But Aamir chose to speak about it in public, and it became national news.

Do you think an intelligent successful man like Aamir ‘forgot’ to consider the consequences of his statement?

Highly unlikely.

The three questions that may have crossed his mind before he said it are:

  1. How will people react?
  2. Will the brands I endorse have a problem with it?
  3. Will there be a political backlash?

Consequently, what are three questions that we must mull over before we decide to sit in judgement.

A pensive Aamir Khan at Satyamev Jayate

Bollywood celebrities today, have taken ample inspiration from the gutsy Deepika Padukone are not interested in being role models. They are successful human beings doing their job. Thats it! The rest of their life and views are their’s alone.

Many people have left India for better prospects; and we celebrate them. Five celebrated, immensely talented Indians who chose to work/build a name in another country; chosen at random are…

  1. Harvard professor and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen
  2. Sundar Pichai
  3. Satya Nadella
  4. Ajit Jain; widely believed to be Warren Buffet’s successor
  5. More recently, Priyanka Chopra

I am wondering how the US/UK Governments would react if these people turned around and said their country of work was intolerant? There would definitely be a backlash.

Do we know why they left India? What about the millions of Indians in the last two decades, who left India? They went for education perhaps and stayed on. It doesn’t matter, and all the best to them, because they send in foreign exchange.

But they did leave, didn’t they? Infrastructure, intolerance, lack of opportunity… what were their reasons? Don’t you know at least one human being, who turned around and told you something like, ‘Dubai is a tax-free country; I think I want to relocate there.’

Aamir, in sharp contrast, has called his ‘own country’ intolerant. That’s a totally different scenario. He has lived here, worked here, made it big and is talking about his own country. And there are problems in every country.

And in case Aamir is not your role model or you don’t look upto him, then his statement is inconsequential anyway.

aamir khan satyamev jayateLooking back a little in history, both Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose had their own methods to fight against the British. A recent book claims that the British feared Bose more than Gandhi. Who is to verify this? But different methods and views have co-existed in my country; that’s why it is a democracy.

Patriotism is a very natural emotion. The internet has injected a global appreciation into our patriotic minds —  I love my country, but Japan’s bullet trains are great – can we have them? I love my country, but I know that female literacy rate in Bihar is 53%. Can I get the world’s best education technology here? And how do I work on mindsets, so people send their daughters to school?

Brand India is the sum total of all its achievers, as well as its poor and downtrodden. Its millionaires and its slum dog millionaires. Its scientists, entrepreneurs, CEOs  politicians,  and artists. Indians who work abroad carry the ‘India’ tag, and sit down together, in ‘Indian’ restaurants all over the world to eat butter chicken and naan with their hands; and wonder whether Amitabh and Rekha ever really had an affair or not? They discuss Mohd Rafi’s songs, the flavour of basmati rice, mom’s home made food, gajar ka halwa and corruption, all in equal measure. Every Indian, living and working anywhere in the world is either adding to, or diminishing Brand India.

Brand Aamir, is a small subset of brand India. If he were to be appointed as the brand ambassador of my country, and speak at the UN, I doubt if intolerance would be his topic of discussion.

But then again, Aamir may have just shown us his most honest face, as a citizen. We all live and we learn. The debate is dead, long live the debate!


1 reply »

  1. Your argument about Indian citizens having left the country for better prospects is valid but what irked most people about Aamir’s comment is the timing. When you are the tourism brand amabassador for India with your face plastered on the Indian consulate walls exhorting visitors to come visit “Incredible India” and then have him on all Indian newspapers talking about “Intolerant India” that sends a conflicting messages to most first time visitors. He is absolutely entitled to his opinion on how dangerous a country India is but the least he could have done is resigned from the post first before shooting his mouth.


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