“Shahrukh Khan Quit Smoking” Campaign – Fair or Unfair?

Posted on June 6, 2011 in Media

By Devika Mittal:

Being a busy-struggling-with-DU’s-May-attack-non-smoker, I forgot that a few days back it was World’s Anti-Tobacco day. But then as I signed into my Facebook, I saw some interesting status messages and updates about my friends joining new communities. It was then that I realized what day it is today. But I cared less. In the evening, I heard about a campaign urging Shahrukh Khan to quit smoking, on a radio station. Many people were asked about their opinion- Why Shahrukh should quit? I felt a little uncomfortable. My thinking mill had started.

The Campaigners argue that Shahrukh Khan is a public figure. He is a role-model for thousands and so his actions are imitated. Shahrukh Khan was, thus, promoting smoking unintentionally. He should quit for the welfare of his fans, of the people. While it is true that Shahrukh Khan exercises influence on the mentalities and actions of thousands. He is definitely a public figure. But doesn’t this action interfere in his personal, real (not reel) life? Smoking is very harmful. They say, “One cigarette cuts 15 minutes of your life”.

But Shahrukh Khan is not ignorant. He is a literate man. Smoking is his personal choice. The Campaign threatens to make the line between personal and professional thinner. That happens when you are famous, argues some. But is that good? Also, if Shahrukh Khan does not quit smoking due to the pressure of this campaign, his image will be tarnished.

On the other hand, I also feel that public figures have certain social obligations. They are expected to be ‘moral’. They have the power to influence the mentalities of the populace. Some celebrities are literally worshipped (I don’t think I need to give the name!). In such a scenario, if Shahrukh Khan is expected to quit smoking, he would be contributing to the welfare of the society. Shahrukh Khan’s quit will encourage many. This will also strengthen his popular image.

But I cannot take a decision. I don’t know who to choose- Delhi boy Shahrukh or the superstar Shahrukh Khan!

All in all, the larger question is, should super stars remain moral to set examples? Or can they go about their regular habits?

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. She is a  history student, obsessed with ‘debating’, ‘discussing’ or rather ‘arguing’!