‘Being human’ usually doesn’t have a price to pay, but for a celebrity like an actor Salman Khan it certainly does cost a fortune for the larger than life status he flaunts in India’s billion dollar film industry Bollywood.
We all know that our most adorable Salman Bhai has the knack of getting into trouble and dodge the law as evident in an earlier case where the actor faced trial in the high profile hit and run accident case in Mumbai, accused of running his car over a footpath dweller in a drunk state, and eventually acquitted of all charges in 2015 Bombay High Court verdict.
Unfortunately, the actor was caught in the warps of the law this time facing 5 years of jail sentence for killing two rare species of antelopes in Jodhpur forests in 1998 while filming of blockbuster Hum Saath Saath Hain.
The 52 year old star has also been fined Rs. 10,000 under section 51 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which implicates maximum six years and minimum 1 year jail term.
The actor reportedly will have to spend the night in jail waiting for his bail hearing in Sessions Court tomorrow.
Ironically his co-stars in the film- Neelam Kothari, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu and Sonali Bendre also the co-accused in the case, present during Court hearing at Jodhpur were acquitted for lack of evidence.
It is presumed that while shooting of the movie Hum Saath Saath Hain back in 1998, Salman Khan along with his fellow cast members Saif, Neelam, Bendre and Tabu went on a hunting expedition in Bhagoda Ki Dhaani village of Jodhpur, where he spotted two Blackbucks and shot them down.
The killing of the antelopes sparked immediate protests from the Bishnoi Sabha, a community committed to protecting Blackbucks, who filed a case against Salman and other actors. The Bishnoi sect, which was founded by Jammeshwarji Maharaj in 1542 AD, is popular for its faith in nature worship and wildlife conservation. They have been known to make many sacrifices for the protection of animals, especially the endangered blackbuck.
Blackbucks and chinkaras are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, but the Bishnois consider the former as being sacred, the incarnation of their Guru Jambeshwar. They follow what is perhaps the world’s only environment-friendly religion and recognize the right of birds, animals and trees to live in peace and harmony with humans.
The Blackbuck poaching verdict has hyphenated the future of the movie machine called Salman Khan, even though his immediate future is not clear, it all depends on how fast his counsels can bail him out for repeal on his case.
Salman now has four films in queue — namely,Race 3,Bharat,Kick 2andDabangg 3— and a TV game show,Dus Ka Dum. WhileBharat, Kick 2, andDabangg 3are yet to go on the floors,Race 3is on the verge of completion and only a small part of the shooting remains. Salman’s promos ofDus Ka Dum are on air already, a tent pole show for the Sony network and is being relaunched in a new avatar after a hiatus of almost a decade.
Among the current crop of actors Salman is one who can effortlessly guarantee a grand opening at box office unlike his peers Shahrukh Khan and Amir Khan who slog at the theatres these days.
Even his average films like Tubelight and Jai Ho manage to cross the 100 crore mark at the box office, making him indispensable for the moviegoers.
Salman’s Khan’s lawyer argued that the actor appeared in the court whenever he was summoned and denied his shooting of antelopes calling it the state forest department’s plot to frame him with the charges of killing.
He said that since the actor was in the forest department’s custody for five days, he should be given benefit of Probations of Offender’s Act. However the court refused to grant Salman the benefit citing the circumstances of the case and the severity of the crime.
Explaining the decision before the Court Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri said in a written verdict, “the accused is a popular actor whose deeds are followed by people. Despite this, the accused hunted two blackbucks.”
Due to imminent threats from the gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, the megastar has been kept in the same barracks as the Asaram Bapu, the self-styled corrupt Godman accused of rape charges.
The Blackbuck case ruling triggered sighs of sympathy from the film fraternity for the “Bad Boy” of filmdom, who led a life peppered with controversies, kept reinventing himself for philanthropic issues, painting and rebranding himself as a celebrity.
Salman Khan’s absence from the Bollywood scene is bound to hit rock bottom for silver screen enthusiasts who eagerly look forward to his every release.
While the economic repercussions of Salman’s absence runs high on the film industry, we also wish that our “Dabang” Khan comes to terms with his legal status, filling the loopholes, turning as truthful as his charity for “Being Human” and winning the hearts of the animal rights activists as well.