Deconstructing Cultism

By Atul Kapoor

So, the big buck guy, Salman Khan, has got yet another blockbuster under his redoubtable belt. His latest flick ‘Kick’ looks all set to kick aside rest of the lot to be the all time biggest grosser at box office. Now, all those who have already participated in the biggest carnival of the year euphemistically called as ‘Salman Khan Movie’ may please raise their hands, and I can imagine very few rebellious hands not going up to join the bandwagon.

 It’s extremely difficult to resist the temptation when it comes to a Salman Khan’s movie even if you seriously doubt the content, or for that matter even if you are convinced to the core of its mediocrity. Try to grill a Salman Khan’s fan (and there is no dearth of them) and he would be quick to reply: ‘There are three kinds of films: A good film, a bad film and a Salman Khan film.’ No one wanting to rate him genuinely, no one willing to put him under the scanner, such is the charisma of the man. This unfailing adherence to someone can at best be attributed to ‘cultism’.

 Cultism is not a bad pursuit as long as it is observed for the chef-d’oeuvres. It would rather be desirable to acknowledge a masterpiece in art, literature or music etc as ‘cult’ as it creates a sense of pride in the heart of the creator thereby motivating him to strive for excellence all the time. Problem erupts when we take cultism beyond the ambit of ‘creations’ to ‘creators’. In other words its only when we try to create cults out of living beings that cultism takes a deviant route and goes awry.

 Personality driven cultism breeds complacency to begin with. The cult, being propelled by the zealots, begins to believe in his indispensability and indisputability. His ego is fed every moment with the constant reminder from his fans of his exceptional talent. He is surrounded by sycophants all the time who hijack his brain and make him hallucinate about his grandeur. His hubris keeps getting bigger and bigger which eventually, more often than not, leads to his downfall.

  It’s very difficult for a ‘personality cult’ to keep himself focused in a loaded environment where he is deemed ‘Godlike’. Such reverential treatment is bound to get into one’s head one day or the other. The cult would then become nemesis for his very creators i.e. the society that had catapulted him into one at first place. Here, you can draw comparison of a cult with the mythological ‘Bhasmasura’ who when blessed with the power to burn anyone by resting his palm on their head turned upon Lord Shiva himself, the one who entrusted him with such power at first place.

 Every society has its heroes and it should be the collective responsibility of the society not to exalt its heroes to the status of the cult. We must not pin unconditional devotion towards personalities. Such veneration should solely be reserved for Gods. Humans should always be seen through the prism of their fallibility. By creating temples in the name of our heroes and worshipping them we don’t just bring disgrace to God we in fact do a great disservice to our heroes as well. So, let’s keep just the ‘karma’ in the domain of cultism and keep the ‘karta’ aloof.

 Then again, cultism has its own set of contradictions. For example, a society does not necessarily create cults out of only supremely talented people. Many a times a society invests its reverence in people with ordinary faculties. To bring home the point let’s look at it from the perspective of Salman Khan. Even a diehard fan of Salman Khan who would swear by his name will admit that he is not a great actor. Salman Khan, at best, is a second grade thespian who is on his way to become a cult, if he has not become one already. Nothing on earth would suffice to explain his majestic ascendency to this status, least of all his expertise in his chosen vocation. Simply put, he is destiny’s child and one can never raise a finger on a mother as capable as ‘destiny’. A mother would, quite naturally, do everything to provide protective environment to her child.

 But yes, even in such crude cases of cultism we can at least keep our heroes on toes by rejecting them when they seem to have no remorse in taking us for a ride. They must not cultivate this habit of taking us for granted almost absolutely. Salman Khan’s films have always been mediocre and he has never shied away from admitting that, but of late, there seems to be a mad rush to throw overboard one film after another with a blatant disregard for the quality and content, and yet manage to set box office ablaze. There seems to be an underlying notion that we have the great Salman Khan in the movie, so rest of the facets collectively termed as ‘art of filmmaking’ may go to hell. Such an attitudinal mindset is having its way because we, the society, is showing no willingness to reject it. Even in our limited capacity when we are up against destiny’s child we must not stop questioning. We must not stop criticizing. We never should.

About The Author: Atul Kapoor is an author of a novel ‘Incredible High’ published in the year 2010. Presently, he is working on his next book which is a group of short stories knitted together to give them a semblance of the novel. He keeps dabbling in poetry and writing articles in between.


  1. nikhil Khandelwal says:

    Well it can be said cultivism has been created by Salman Khan. But it should not be overlooked tby us to follow him blindly. Well written

  2. kopal dhawan kapoor says:

    Its commendable A.k ….. (y) keep writing and posting….

  3. Abhishek Rathi says:

    Hmmmm……………………….. ….

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