In the early hours of October 3, a few hours after Gandhi Jayanti, (a day when the country observes a no-liquor day), ‘Junior SRK’ Aryan Khan was on the news. The Narcotics Control Bureau had raided the cruise where Aryan Khan was also present. The Bureau had received information about the usage of drugs at the rave party. When Aryan Khan and his companions were detained by the NCB, at first the media refrained from taking names, but alerted the viewers that a ‘megastar’ who owns a cricket team, his son had been detained by NCB.
The raid continued till the morning hours of October 3. By then, media had confirmed that superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan along with Munmun Dhamecha, Nupur Sarika, Ismeet Singh, Mohak Jaswal, Vikrant Chhoker, Gomit Chopra and Arbaaz Merchant, were indeed detained by the NCB. Filmfare posted a tweet with Aryan Khan’s image informing that, “he was called for questioning, no charges were pressed against him yet his phone had been seized for further investigation in the drug case.”
Meanwhile, ANI and Republic had released a video where a completely masked Aryan was spotted running away with two men, both of whom attempted to cover his face from the shutterbugs who had surrounded the NCB office. They held his hands and guarded him till he reached inside the office of NCB. After hours of questioning he was taken to the JJ Hospital for a medical check-up, after which he was arrested.
Meanwhile, the press remained surprisingly quiet (some even found excuses to defend Aryan Khan) until further reports. A man inside the NCB premises was also spotted clicking a selfie with Aryan, where the star child too posed for the camera in his usual intense expression.
On the professional front, Aryan Khan lent his voice for the Hindi version of Disney’s live action film The Lion King which had released in 2019. Much earlier, he had played the role of young Rahul in Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham directed by Karan Johar. He completed his college from University of South California in 2020, and was expected to join the Hindi film industry as a director.
Although the young boy had expressed no interest in becoming an actor like his father, producer Karan Johar had already called the bids on him in 2016 and had said that only he can launch Aryan Khan. Well known for being the godfather of star kids, Karan Johar had his eyes fixed on launching Shah Rukh Khan’s children.
Aryan’s sister, Suhana, who had expressed her will to follow her father’s footsteps in her debut Vogue cover, had already signed her first film with Zoya Akhtar, where she is expected to share the screen with Ibrahim Ali Khan son of Saif Ali Khan. Her first project will be an Indian version of the Archie Comics. Aryan’s younger brother AbRam had already made a short appearance in Happy New Year.
Around 2pm, the arrest was finally made under Section 8C, 20B, 27 read with 35 of the NDPS Act. It was confirmed that the 23-year-old star child was booked in connection with the rave party case from where 13 gm cocaine, 21 gm charas, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstacy), 5 gm MD, and ₹1.33 lakh in cash were recovered. The section 8(c) of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 prohibits “produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import inter-State, export inter-State, import into India, export from India or tranship any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.”
Despite being such a high profile case the media and Bollywood teams have shown restraints in their comments and investigation. Barring a few independent journalists, who claimed on twitter that they were being threatened by Shah Rukh Khan’s team, most of the well known media houses attempted to avoid taking names of the Bollywood superstar’s son unless absolutely necessary.
Aryan Khan: The genetically blessed media’s darling
Ever since Shah Rukh Khan’s children returned from London as young adults and teenagers who completed their school, they have been popular on Instagram for their genetically blessed good looks, well-clicked photographs with the right kind of lighting and extremely lavish lifestyle. Although Aryan’s sister Suhana Khan had been trolled for her skin, Shah Rukh Khan’s effective, powerful media house was able to do major damage control.
Almost every night, Suhana would be spotted with Ananya Panday (daughter of Chunkey Panday and Shanaya Kapoor (daughter of Sanjay Kapoor) at lavish restaurants in branded shorts and tops. In the eyes of the media they have become the next generation of best girlfriends. Be it Shah Rukh Khan’s birthday party, Karan Johar’s Diwali party, or a grand wedding, these children have gracefully made their appearance as the next heir to the throne of Bollywood.
If there’s something you must know about Bollywood, it is the importance of parties. Weddings, Diwali parties, success parties, are the audition grounds for these star children. The media and the producers keep a watch on their style, their appearances. The star child then uses these clicks and party pictures to gain followers on social media.
When Sara Ali Khan graduated from Columbia University, she made sure everyone had her eyes on her. Her competitors were Janhvi Kapoor and Khushi Kapoor who were constantly making appearances at fashion shows with their mother Late Sridevi Boney Kapoor. The two sisters would hold their hands and walk at the airports, and their mother Sridevi would constantly keep a watch on them Aryan Khan had been more independent that way. Unlike his sister, who was constantly in the company of Ananya and Shanaya, Aryan made news even when he stepped outside the car on his own. He constantly had an intense expression, (neither smile nor anger) that obviously made him appear more photogenic. Although, time and again he would post on Instagram about his lavish parties and trips world wide with his siblings, in Mumbai when he was seen cycling with Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, helping a beggar with aluminium wrapped food outside a plush hotel, one had assumed that Aryan too had the intelligence of his father. By the time Shah Rukh Khan had hit his 40s, he knew how to maintain his distance with the media and simultaneously maintain a friendship with them when they laughed and his witty jokes or verbally punch them back if they dared to hurt his ego.
In 2016, when Shah Rukh Khan arrived in Delhi to promote Dear Zindagi, he treated the press to a lip smacking luncheon along with desserts. He is well known for arriving late at any events and in your four hours of boredom if you ever think of just reminding the superstar to be humble and arrive on time, he would change your mind immediately when he would walk inside the room. Even in the silence your anger takes a back seat and you feel the need to impress him.
In 2016, Shah Rukh Khan was embroiled in various controversies. In a tweet he had supported PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation, he was on the news for sharing the screens with a Pakistani actress, Mahira Khan. Before he entered the room he had sent his PRs who told the media, “no questions on Raees, demonetisation, or Pak actors ban. And if the media dared to question him on that subject, that media personnel would be thrown out of the room.” The three PR women had used a tone which most school teachers use to control a noisy classroom.
However when Shah Rukh Khan entered the room, his face was wrinkled at every corner, he had his sunglasses on, and he would constantly smoke a cigarette and start another one without even finishing the first one. Another person would stand beside him with an ashtray. The young media people in the room instantly froze at his arrival. Despite being the superstar he made his first attempt to break the ice and make the media people more comfortable. “Tum log bhi bolo na kuch apne barein main…” Later when the interaction ended most journalists (even the ones who were the Salman Khan fans) had arrived at the conclusion that Shah Rukh Khan had a certain intelligence about him which remained an attractive quality, since it’s a quality that is lacking in superstars of Bollywood. He also had an air about him, where he knew how to put you in your place owing to the idea that he is a highly paid Indian celebrity to constantly makes an appearance on Forbes, while the rest around him were lowly paid, sleep deprived journalists who were probably lucky enough to get a good taste of the sumptuous luncheon his team had offered at the plush hotel in Gurgaon.
When Aryan Khan gracefully made his presence in front of the shutterbugs, without pushing them away for entering his personal space, he was thought to be an intelligent man, who knew that one act of misbehaviour and he would be on the news for the wrong reasons. When Sarah Ali Khan shouted at a photographer for entering the premises of a building where he was not allowed, she had apologised later for using the tone but the damage was done. Later when she visited the temple and told the photographers to give her some privacy while she was trying to pray she was on the news for two reasons. One for entering the Mandir and being a devotee of another faith, and two for yelling at the media who had a large role to play in making her famous. In between 2018-2020 she remained the rich, rude, girl who needed to check her privileges even if she was honest about her opinion on skin colours and how the media sometimes constantly wait for a famous star child to go wrong.
Aryan was thought to be more alert. If there was media, or police around the corner he knew how to be in his best behaviour. Watching him run away with two bodyguards only to be later clicked inside the NCB office, seemed like the act of a young boy who was trying to sneak inside his house before being caught by his parents.
The surprising silence of Bollywood
Bollywood is divided into left, right and neutral.
While left leaning section such as Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhasker, Anurag Kashyap, Farhan Akhtar, swing from one epistemological truth to another to display that the Central Government of India is run by a facist party who constantly target the non-supporters of the BJP in the film industry and the Muslims of India. Kangana Ranaut single-handedly speaks in favour of the NDA led government and their decisions to conduct raids. She takes it upon herself to alert the media and the people of the drug abuse that has entrenched deeply inside Bollywood. However, this time she has remained surprisingly silent.
For a woman, who waits for an opportunity to expose what Kangana called the hypocrisy of Bollywoodiyas, she has been surprisingly silent herself. Going back to 2019, one might remember when Kangana Ranaut, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Imtiaz Ali, and various other personalities from Bollywood had all gathered to meet the second time elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kangana and Shah Rukh were seen sharing a warm hug with each other. Although, on Koffee With Karan Kangana had boldly stated that she would never share the screen with any of the top Khans, not after all these years of independently making her films work, single-handedly by her own efforts, only Salman Khan seemed to have taken it personally, while Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan gracefully respected her decision of not being associated with them on professional grounds to achieve success.
Despite what the left claims to Kangana Ranaut to be, a Muslim hating Hindu woman, she has maintained a good rapport with the powerful Muslims of the industry. Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui will also be collaborating with the actress for a yet-to-be-titled film and Kangana too proudly spoke of him when he got nominated for an Emmy in 2021. The silence of the left, right and centre of Bollywood expose Shah Rukh Khan’s strong power despite a series of flops since 2013.
He has been under the watch of the media for his inability to keep up with the scores of the newbie superstars such as Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Varun Dhawan, Vicky Kaushal. Infact his association with Rajkumar Hirani seemed to be a desperate attempt to gain his financial stardom back. The director is well noted for bringing back stardom to failed superstars such as Sanjay Dutt with Munna Bhai series, Ranbir Kapoor with Sanju, and now Shah Rukh Khan.
Is Aryan Khan’s career over even before he started?
Actor Shah Rukh Khan is managed by PR team Spice, who also hold other clients such as Deepika Padukone, Aamir Khan, Rajkumar Hirani, Prabhas, Farhan Akhtar. The team constantly keeps a watch on each and every media house, they personally dial up journalists and warn them that they wouldn’t give them interviews, call them at press conferences and press shows, if they dare to publish anything negative about their clients or ask them a controversial question.
Only a few handful of journalists recognised their powers and had warned them back that they would boycott all their clients, not publish their stories and release critical news stories about their clients, if they dare to cross their line and threaten them for doing their jobs. Only a few spineless entertainment editors would comply with them and scold their team mates with “strict action” if they dared to ask questions to the powerful people of Bollywood.
Usually when a few media houses and star journalists have a hearty time picking on stars and their children for being a part of a controversy, not all of them were acting the same way when Aryan Khan got arrested. The star child would probably receive bail owing to the influential position of his parents and later release a book or a film about him white washing his role in the crime.
With a team full of producers ready to launch him and parents who own Red Chillies Entertainment that has a reputed VFX team in the Hindi film industry, Aryan Khan may not have to worry about money coming in his way. For some time producers may keep their distance from him, he won’t be invited to parties, in other words silently get cancelled from lavishness until he gets a clean chit not from the highest of courts, but from Red Chillies, where he claims that he is an innocent 23-year-old who fell in the wrong hands in the year 2021. If this case goes further and Aryan is indeed seen as a drug addict, the film would take a different turn, something akin to that of Todd Philips Joker, where too much pressure from the media to play the role model star kid led him to take drugs.