Saif Ali Khan addresses a press conference on the assault case filed against him by an NRI businessman in Mumbai on Wednesday.
By Madhav Nalapat
Can Malaika Arora, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan ever be wrong? By now, phone lines must be afire with highly-placed friends of the three working on getting Maharashtra's film-crazy politicians to ensure that the Mumbai police (again, a reasonable bunch, very open to persuasion) get the correct story of what took place in Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel a few days ago. Saif must have been severely injured during the encounter, as it took him almost a day to leave his bedside and rustle up the energy to register a complaint before the Mumbai police authorities, giving the "true" version of the facts. Saif being a young man obedient to elders, this move must have been prompted by advice from political and official bigwigs in Maharashtra, who must be aghast at the injustice involved in forcing a helpless citizen to spend hours in a police station defending himself against a complaint by — and let us not use understatement here — the cruel culprits of that evening, the 40-ish South African businessman and his 68-year-old father-in-law.
Going by Malaika, Kareena and Saif's version of the incident, the only question was just who mauled and pummelled Saif so ruthlessly. Was it the son-in-law or the father-in-law? Could it be that the younger man is protecting the older, and that it was actually the elder person who pounced on Saif? In sifting through the evidence, we must not ignore one obvious fact. The two (son-in-law and father-in-law) were apparently so expert in their pugilism that they landed blows on the movie star that were wholly invisible to the naked eye, or to other naked parts of the human body. Although the blows clearly did immense bodily harm to the distinguished descendant of Rabindranath Tagore (enough to make his two lady escorts apoplectic), the attack was so stealthy in its skill that no bruise, no discolouration, was seen afterwards. Poor Saif suffered inwardly, in silence. That the attack was grave is borne out by Saif filing a police complaint. One does not file such complaints, unless the blows inflicted are life-threatening. Fortunately for Saif's producers, the injuries sustained by the delicate star do not seem to be life-threatening, although of course he will need to be kept under observation for at least a year to make sure that this is indeed the case.
So expert were the two Malaika-identified assailants that not only did they not make even the slightest external mark on Saif (although of course his internal organs, including those involving the digestive tract, must be close to pulp), but they managed to give the impression that they themselves were injured, in fact to the extent of a broken nose. Knowing the reputation for truthfulness and ethics of Kareena and Malaika, not to mention the humble lad they tried but failed to protect against two violent experts in martial arts, it is clear that such injuries must be a sham. Or, if they be real, must have come about because of the "boomerang" technique, by which a blow apparently directed at another comes back and hits the person making the blow, in a transparent bid for public sympathy. Saif, of course, could never have been responsible for even a single blow, except perhaps a soft one, knowing the sort of person his is. Clearly, the two attackers apparently injured themselves to throw the blame on an innocent filmstar who was in the company of others even more innocent than himself. Malaika and Kareena, tell the truth! The public must know the facts that only you both do. Even Saif cannot know the whole truth, so traumatised was he by the repeated blows he endured that awful night.
The Mumbai police, especially because this yeoman force is certain to be guided by various influential "uncles" of the stars in question, can be relied on to ensure that the pathetically wronged thespian suffers minimum inconvenience from his horrible encounter with two individuals whose proficiency in martial arts seems better than a US Navy SEAL. For the latter certainly cannot inflict invisible blows, nor do the "boomerang attack", that Malaika and Kareena are witness to on that fateful day. But what was the motivation for the spasm of violence against the Pataudi scion? Could it be starry rivalry, with some unknown film personality secretly goading the two martial arts specialists to visit the same restaurant that poor Saif chose for a quiet evening?
Of course, the complaint of the father-in-law and the son-in-law was that it was hardly a quiet evening. Indeed, the accusation was that a lot of noise was emanating from the Saif table. However, it is very likely that the reason for this — assuming the suggestion of loud noise is correct — may be that Saif, Kareena and Malaika are auditorily challenged, that they cannot hear very well, and had collectively left their hearing aids at home when visiting the Taj. Were this the case, it would explain the loud conversation, for the three would not even know that they were speaking a bit louder than people other than politicians do. And going by the principle of "Mens Rea" and "Actus Reus", if they were not aware that they were speaking loudly (and how could they, if their hearing aids were absent from the table?), then they certainly cannot be held guilty of making a "loud noise". Instead of sending a chit to restaurant staff protesting at the joyful sounds coming from Saif's (then happy) table, why did the SEAL-like duo not amble over to the Saif table themselves, and offer to procure hearing aids from a nearby medical store, given the obvious reason for the slightly loud speech? Most inconsiderate.
Saif is not alone. Pedestrians inconveniently get in the way of expensive automobiles driven by other representatives of India's "innocent" youth, and it is the poor boys and girls behind the wheel who get blamed. No one cares to ask just why those hit had committed the crime of being at the exact spot that the car was, that too when Junior or Junioress had had a few strong drinks, to forget the fact that India is in crisis. Finally, of course, all is usually well, with the minimum time served in prison (usually a police room where clandestine home food and visits is the norm). And thus it is likely to be for Saif. Because it is Kareena, Malaika and Saif who have the "uncles", and not the two pugilists. And in India, family and friends matter. In fact, nothing else does.