I can’t help worrying about Shah Rukh’s health. Can a damaged spine send wrong signals to the brain?
Ever since I suffered a back injury a few years ago, I have been deeply interested in the functioning of the spinal cord. Especially, of celebrities I admire.
Shah Rukh Khan, the Badshah of Bollywood, headlines my list. For years, I have been closely following details of his knee, shoulder and back injuries and his pain management technique(s). I admire his ability to endure excruciating pain with a chuckle.
I have seen pictures of him walking away wearing his characteristic dimpled smile after surgical procedures as I sat around worried about being rendered spineless, at least literally if not metaphorically.
My hero, going strong on the other side of 50, has continued to stun me with real-life lessons on how to survive successfully with pain in the spine. Just a few years ago, he won a million more fans, and me all over, when he articulated his angst against the growing intolerance in India. “…religious intolerance and not being secular… is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot,” he was quoted as saying by the media back then.
This Shashi Tharoor of Bollywood has cast a spell on almost everyone with his insights on such soul-stirring issues and more. However, his latest lesson – batting for a totally spine-free existence – has left me stumped.
Earlier this week, a much haggard version of Shah Rukh was seen taking a selfie with the prime minister (PM) of India, Narendra Modi, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, at an event called #ChangeWithin.
The resultant candid shot, Shah Rukh smiling ear-to-ear, along with another famous Khan of Bollywood, Aamir Khan, was telling of the early onset of degenerative and, perhaps, irreversible changes in Shah Rukh’s spine.
Eloquence has been Khan’s constant companion right from the days when he had an impeccable spine. “Thank u @narendramodi for hosting us & having such an open discussion on #ChangeWithin & the role artistes can play in spreading awareness of the msgs of The Mahatma. Also, the idea of a University of Cinema is extremely opportune!” he later tweeted.
That’s the #ChangeWithin, if you like.
And, now I can’t help worrying about Shah Rukh’s health. Who would have thought that the many expensive surgical interventions would not have helped his nerves behave better? I know that messages are sent from the brain through the spinal cord to the different parts of the body, but I am left wondering if the reverse is true too? Can a damaged spine send wrong signals to the brain? Or do brain cells, at the tail end of their life, only send signals to parts of the body that are able to decode words that are spelling variants of the word money?
Which brings me to the curious case of the other Khan of Bollywood I admire – Aamir. The man who has long exemplified Mahatma Gandhi’s three monkeys – hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil. His larger-than-life image, thanks to his choice of films and his association with social issues (spoke out against the Gujarat genocide of 2002), was bolstered by his flagship television show a few years ago “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth Shall Prevail).
Aamir raised issues that are usually brushed under the carpet and exposed India’s hypocrisy. He talked about LGBT rights and honour killings, and there was an hour-long episode on elections and corruption. That Aamir posed with the PM barely hours before Maharashtra state was to go to polls may be a coincidence, but what wasn’t was that he was also smiling through an increasingly intolerant India he expressed shock at a few years ago. An India where lynching of minorities is no longer news.
In a film called “Ghajini”, Aamir plays a tycoon suffering from acute short-term memory loss and he does everything possible to preserve that memory. In real-life, Aamir, the tycoon, seems to be suffering from long-term memory loss. A messed up nervous system?
This brings me to the third Khan of Bollywood – who rules hearts, owns roads and also a clothing line called Being Human. I was never a fan of Salman. I always dismissed him as an overgrown kid whose nervous system liked sending wrong messages to his body all the time — kill wildlife, run over pedestrians, punch women.
However, in this vicious circle of pain called Khans, I would vote for a familiar pain near the spine. Let’s call it Salmanitis.