Salman Khan as India‘s goodwill ambassador for Olympics: Is this a joke?

If there’s one thing no one will argue about – no, not even a hater – it is that Bhai always wins.


The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) declared Salman Khan as the first Bollywood celebrity to be the goodwill ambassador for the Indian contingent at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics scheduled to start on August 5, 2016.

Bhai won the battle between Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and himself, because the IOA opined that he connected more with the youth and sportspersons, ABP News reported. Athletes competing at the Olympics like boxing legend Mary Kom have expressed happiness at Bhai’s appointment, and for good reason, if you ask me.

If there’s one thing no one will argue about – no, not even a hater – it is that Bhai always wins. Whether it be a gang-fight as yet another undercover spy/ACP, a celebrity competition at the IOA, a wrestling match or several (we know he’ll win with Sultan in the end) or a case in the high court for an alleged hit-and-run – Salman always wins. In fact, I have long wondered why no film-maker has ever made a movie where Bhai fights Bhai in an epic, through the entire second half, shot in 3D-HD!

So, to sum up, it is easy how the IOA came to its decision. With Amitabh Bachchan facing a smear on his reputation following the Panama Papers scandal and his subsequent removal as the brand ambassador of Incredible India, it was clear that he, at least, wasn’t going to be our man for the Olympics.

Wouldn’t SRK have been a better option?

For similar reasons, after having hinted at India becoming an intolerant space, Aamir Khan – also a former Incredible India ambassador – could not have been tolerated to best represent our country at an event where 10,506 world-class athletes from 206 countries will compete and virtually the entire world will watch.

With stakes this high for India’s image abroad (that we so fiercely fought to protect after Aamir’s comments, the JNU fiasco, or the televised production of BBC’s documentary India’s Daughter), it is so good to know that our ambassador has a clean, go-getter, “youth-icon” image which is “an inspiration to bodybuilders all over India”, ABP News reported, and the IOA concurred. Judging by the contestants on “Roadies” every year, that’s clearly a lot of people!

What about the hit-and-run case, you ask? Oh, the Bombay High Ccourt acquitted him of all charges in December 2015 – didn’t you hear? But what about Maharashtra government’s challenge in the Supreme Court, or the appeal of the victims’ kin in the Supreme Court?

Both have been filed this year and are very much in news today, appearing as recently as April 4 on the NDTV website. Surely these appeals are baseless – as is the barrage of tweets, Facebook updates and memes from lesser-mortal citizens with Bhai’s honour as much in question as his virginity on Karan Johar’s show- but since the dirt is still being flung around, won’t some of it reach Rio?

Here’s how people reacted on Twitter on Salman’s appointment as India’s goodwill ambassador for Olympics:

ambassador बनाने से होगा क्या पदक ज़्यादा आ जाएँगे क्या ये नाटक ही करना था तो किसी खिलाड़ी को ही बना देते #जयहिंद 

Salman Khan becomes India’s ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for the Olympics.
Doesn’t Salman need a Goodwill Ambassador for himself?

How will such allegations sound for Bharat Mata’s image at the Olympics? Isn’t the IOA worried like the government which removed Aamir Khan as the ambassador of Incredible India, or even Snapdeal which distanced itself from Aamir like he had the plague after his statements on intolerance?

Wouldn’t it have been safer to choose Shah Rukh Khan, who, amongst his other qualifications, can’t even allegedly be connected to a murder scene, besides having already played a very similar role on screen in the YRF blockbuster Chak De India?

Argh, such Bollywood drama with the “murder scene” comparison, you might say. Even if it was Bhai who was driving an otherwise self-driving car, a hit-and-run was a mistake many could have committed, being humans. In contrast, look at his charity work, his popularity in his Bollywood community – Bhai is not called Bhai for nothing!

If only we Indians stop making noise about a homeless vagabond here, a black buck there and court indignation for Mother India, there needn’t be any controversy.

After all, it’s not like Bhai has fans all over the world who just might decide to google his name and click on “news” on Google’s “results” page.

Oh, wait, he does! In fact, his star power is bigger than SRK’s – Bhai’s Sultan is YRF’s biggest release this year, not SRK’s Fan, and in Sultan Bhai is playing a wrestler. A sportsperson, see. Surely that’s a fitting justification for his selection, and if not, it is damn good publicity ahead of his movie’s July release, promotion for which is well on the way.

Now call me a cynic, but a reason to cast Sallu Bhai beyond his unparalleled star power might be visible to some haters here. Bhai flew kites with the prime minister(then prime ministerial candidate) in Ahmedabad in a PR triumph for Modiji in his home state where Bhai’s convenient Muslim credentials go a long way in letting bygones be bygones after the unfortunate 2002 pogrom.

Ahead of Bhai’s big release, then, this appointment could be – I’m not saying it is – an “I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine” counter-PR move that made the government temporarily forget its erstwhile commitment to Bharat Mata’s PR image and granted Bhai a well-deserved favour.

It was either that or Bhai’s incredible, inspirational oratory like his message to the athletes participating at Rio who he egged on saying “kuch na kuch le ke aao“. One can compare that gem to the “sattar minute” speech from Chak De and sigh, but coming from Bhai’s mouth it would’ve sounded a lot better than it looks, I’m sure.

Of course, to support the “I-scratch-your-mine…” theory is to say that either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Sallu Bhai are in need of some more PR to boost their or their affiliations’ popularity, which is clearly beneath their stature. That is a solid argument – they are both demigods in the mass-majority’s eye – to which I have but one additional submission: isn’t access to either Bhai’s or Modiji’s back in itself a proof of incredible stardom? Is it not, in fact, true proof?