CHENNAI: As the Bhai gets used to being a convicted felon, the judgment coming 13 years after the infamous hit-and-run has certainly evoked mixed reactions from people in the city. Salman Khan is undoubtedly golddust at the Bollywood box office, but is that reason enough to let the Dabangg star be under trial for over a decade, before the conviction? This is what people said when the news of his conviction was made public.
Speaking to City Express, actor Khushboo said that she was personally saddened as she had known Salman’s family for long. “My heart goes out to him,” she said, quickly adding that as far as the verdict was concerned, it only reaffirmed one’s faith in judiciary. “When it comes to law, everyone is equal and it doesn’t matter who you are as a person,” she added.
Director Gaurav Narayanan of Sigaram Thodu fame opined that Salman should be allowed to complete his films before the punishment is enforced. “He is humanitarian and I have personally observed him helping the underprivileged kids. It is saddening for me today,” he said.
There were, however, a few who stressed the fact that the message was more important than having a discussion on the verdict. Actor Flora Saini, who had worked with Salman in the blockbuster Dabangg 2, said that it was important to learn from this judgment about what one may end up facing due to negligent driving, “When you drink and drive, you not just put your life to danger but lives of thousands as well,” she emphasised. Actor Sakshi Agarwal agreed. “Salman has been a fabulous entertainer this industry has ever seen. We all will miss him. He is paying for his own mistake,” she said.
Legal experts like Advocate A Sirajudeen, Madras High Court, were harsher though, “Thirteen years to conclude a trial is unreasonable, but given the loopholes available any person can drag such trials for 13 years.” Advocate Thomas T Jacob agreed, “It is highly impossible for a common person to drag such a case for 13 years. The court would show more indulgence because he is a celebrity, it would not happen to a common person. The Magistrate would be under immense pressure to finish off the case. Any case which is in his file for 13 years will be construed that he is not a competent judge,” he said.
Some of the most ardent Salman fans in the city have surprisingly not paused a beat before admitting the mistake on his part. Many fans have taken to Twitter and Facebook to bemoan the verdict, but have also acknowledged the correctness of the judgment.
Sneh Jain, a postgraduate student at MOP Vaishnav College, echoes this view. “It was a nail biting moment for me when the verdict was about to be announced.” she expresses. “Being a Salman fan, I wished that the case would be in his favour but the tables turned against him and it broke my heart. But in hindsight, it is definitely a fair judgment.”