With due apologies to Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman, the biggest Khan superstar of India currently is Taimur Ali Khan.
As he turned all of two on December 20, his proud, paparazzi-wary parents whisked him away to Africa, far away from the cameras which love him the way only a true star is loved. At two, little Tim (as he is affectionately called by his father) is fully aware of his best camera angles. He calls out to the paparazzi who adore him and always ensure his comfort before clicking.
What he wears, and the random words that lisp off his lips become the trending topics of the day. And the child loves every bit of the attention.
So is Taimur, my most favourite member of the Pataudi clan after his grandmother Sharmila Tagore, the most popular star-kid in the world? Tom Cruise’s Suri comes close. The little girl was followed around by the paparazzi to describe her clothes, shoes and purse. In no time at all, little Suri acquired adult mannerisms and turned into quite a poseur.
In spite of all the media attention, Taimur remains blissfully uncorrupted. Yes, he loves the flashbulbs and the media attention, but he does’t strike poses. Not as yet.
At two, Taimur is a force that the photographers cannot do without. According to glam shooters in Mumbai, a picture of Taimur fetches a higher price than that of Salman Khan. And Taimur effortlessly lords over the below-five brigade of star-kids. His popularity exceeds that of Aamir Khan’s son Azad and Shah Rukh’s AbRam.
Such is his popularity in the public domain that Taimur needs constant surveillance. He is no danger of any kind. It’s just that he attracts way too much attention for a child his age. His parents fear their Tim may soon lose his innocence. Or else, the paparazzi may soon lose interest in Tim, and move on to another star-kid.
Too young to understand how the media operates, Taimur may lose all the attention overnight without knowing why the photographers have disappeared.
We must guard against the child’s first heartbeak when he is no more the darling of the paparazzi. We all know how savagely Taimur’s parents were trolled for naming their son after a cruel invader. Nothing that the original Taimur did can match the cruelty of the trolls gunning for little Taimur’s parents for their child’s name.
I am glad they stuck to their guns. Imagine if they had re-christened him Tarachand or Timothy.
Would he have been as popular? As Tim turns a year older we can only hope that he gets the same attention in the future that he is getting now. A tall order, I know. Children born with golden spoons often find that spoon snatched away from their mouths. That such a thing can ever happen to Taimur is heartbreaking, to say the least.
So let’s all think only positive thoughts for the Golden Nawab. Dear Taimur, Tim, Timmy, Tim-Tim… may you shine brighter than both your parents.
Oops, you already do.
By Subhash K. Jha
(Subhash K. Jha writes on films. Views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)