By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, (IANS) Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan, arrested Saturday after his car hit a boy, is upset with the media hounding.
"'Saif ne kuchal dala (Saif ran over a young boy). Rich star kid goes berserk... Man, what is this? I am tired of this kind of media hounding that we always have to go through."
Saif is a bit agitated. He has just been to jail and is out on bail. And all happened within 24 hours, and for no fault of his.
"It happened like this," he recalls.
"I had just finished my rehearsals for the MTV awards on Friday afternoon and was driving back home, when a kid ran across the road. My car skidded and hit his foot, mind you, just his foot nothing else.
"I was immediately concerned. And I am proud to say I did the right thing. I got off my car, put the kid, mind you he's 13 and fully aware of his rights, into my car and drove him to the hospital. At first we thought all was fine. Later the doctor detected a broken tibia.
"Anyway, the kid was discharged and he's gone home. Unfortunately I was arrested. Apparently the law of the land demands arrest in any road accident, no matter how small and I've been let out on bail."
What happened was a mini nightmare.
"The kid's uncle jumped into the situation. He got all worked up and demanded compensation, which is fine. I have paid up Rs.15,000, which amply covers all his medical expenses. My car has been impounded and the court case may or may not lead to more trouble for me.
"I am prepared to face the legal system. But I won't be milked by people outside the court. I am troubled by the fact that a kid is hurt. But please remember, it was a very crowded road. And such mishaps aren't uncommon. Luckily no one was hurt seriously. Otherwise god knows what they'd have done to me."
He intends to meet the kid's mother and offer whatever help is required. "But I am getting alarmed by the indications of what they require of me."
Saif is exasperated by his never-ending run-ins with problems.
"I have stopped thinking why me. I just face it. But please, will the electronic media stop making guinea pigs of celebrities?
"Kuchal dala, drunken and rash driving... please! I am not guilty of any of that. If anyone suggests an out-of-court settlement I am going to say, 'Sorry, dude. I have paid for my small sin. Legal work is on. If there's a case, so be it'."
The whole issue of celebrity bashing acquires an inverted meaning in such cases. The casualty of the road accident becomes a far less important player in the game than the celebrity whose name makes news.
"Don't I make enough news without getting into all this?" asks Saif.