About the only praiseworthy thing to be said about Kamaal R. Khan is that he tweets under his own name, unlike some personages on Twitter whose handlers fire away kisses and kicks from behind a shield of anonymity.
The kisses and kicks are, of course, Khan’s speciality. Among the numerous tweets he puts out every day, he unfailingly sends affection or vitriol the way of his objects of love (usually female actors) and hate (the Hindi film industry in general). Khan has reacted with glee to news that a section of the movie trade has approached the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) to take some kind of action against his tweets, which are often critical of most new releases, and abuse film-makers and actors with abandon. In an interview with the tabloid Mumbai Mirror, Khan said, “They say I do everything for publicity. But everybody in showbiz is here for publicity. What the world accuses me of, they accuse Rakhi Sawant, Sherlyn Chopra and Poonam Pandey of the same,” he says.
Khan, like Sawant, Chopra and Pandey, is a master of the outrageous tabloid moment. He is a baiter, forever poised at the edge of the ocean of opinion and waiting to reel in any kind of attention, good or bad. Khan knows all too well that in show business, any publicity is better than no publicity, and that even trolls are better than silent admirers. If the FWICE does succumb to the demand for action, it will only add to his Twitter following (132,617 followers on last count; he follows only 22 accounts), and bolster his reputation as an industry insider who behaves like an outsider.
Is Khan taking revenge for the negative reviews of his 2008 movie Deshdrohi, which he produced and starred in? The critical and commercial failure of that movie didn’t dent his optimism or ambition. The so-bad-it-is-almost-good movie impressed the folks who trawl through tabloids to select candidates for Bigg Boss to put him in the third season of the reality show in 2009. If you want to understand the construction of the Kamaal R. Khan mythos, you need to talk to the powers at Endemol India, which produces Bigg Boss, and Colors, the television channel that airs the show.
Khan artfully exploits the suspicion among the general public that the film industry is in bed with the media, and that reviews and box-office reports are compromised by the closeness between the film-maker and the critic/analyst. The distance that Khan claims to maintain from the trade is enhanced by the fact that he lives mostly in Dubai. It’s a sign of the times that people look to Khan for credibility, but then Twitter is a forum for airing opinion, not sifting truth. Among the countless hot air balloons floating up and down the social networking site, Khan’s handle lets off enough steam to cloud the vision. The best “action” that anybody can take against Kamaal R. Khan is to ignore him.