Was it an act of DABANGG, aka Robin Hood Pandey when Salman Khan decided to light a fag in Patiala while shooting for his new film BODYGUARD starring Kareena Kapoor? It might have been an urge to light the flick, but whole of the media North of India made this news item breaking news in their respective publications. After all, Salman is the favorite whipping boy of the media, who seldom makes an interface with them, but to publicize his film then why not make this a news item. Any news associated with Salman carries weight. It was informed to this writer by a friend from Chandigarh that the previous night Salman was having dinner at one of the up-market restaurants in Chandigarh and the frenzy to see him was seen to be believed.
On the eve of the world tobacco day, Patiala police also demonstrated its intent of contribution of preventing smoking in a public place by levying a penalty of Rs. 200/- on Salman Khan, but the moot point is, how many of the others who were smoking in gay abandon throughout Punjab or for that matter throughout the whole country were penalized and handed over a fine? Was any such kind of news item reported anywhere in the countryside, taking inspiration from what was done by the Police officials in Patiala? No report of such kind emanated in any publications either in North India or the country per se, as a follow up of what was done to Salman Khan, probably to demonstrate the sincerity of intent in addressing the menace.
Acts of aberration when they are committed by the film stars, or the celebrities per se, indeed immediately make news, but beyond the element of sensationalism a follow up to give a ring side view of the crime committed by the public general also needs to be made which would demonstrate the fairness of reporting about such aberrations.
It also needs to be underlined that the public figures like Salman Khan and Shaharukh Khan and others of his ilk, who continue to have their allegiance to the cigarette, need to exercise abundant caution while being in the public place, as their acts are emulated at a much faster pace by the younger generation. Responsibility also lies with the media professionals not to hype the news but to give it a place devoid of sensationalism in their respective publications. Only then can the sanity prevail.