Gurpreet Singh: Love story of Kareena and Saif shares many similarities with that of Meghan and Harry

    1 of 3 2 of 3

      In June, 2019 two teenaged neo-Nazis were jailed for trying to incite a terrorist attack on Prince Harry.  

      Michal Szewczuk, and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, each from West London, were part of an extreme right wing group called the Sonnenkrieg Division, according to the BBC. They had been accused of suggesting on social media that the Duke of Sussex should be shot for marrying a woman of mixed race. 

      They not only branded Prince Harry a “race traitor”, but also threatened to hang white women who dated non-white men.    

      Sonnenkrieg Division glorifies Adolf Hitler, who was responsible for the Jewish Holocaust.  

      This came after Prince Harry had married Meghan Markle, a former American actress, in 2018.    

      Born to a white father and an African-American mother in 1981, she was raised in Los Angeles. She experienced racism firsthand because of this and even now continues to endure this marrying Prince Harry.  

      She's been working with United Nations on gender equality and spoke out in solidarity with Black Lives Matter following recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of police.    

      In January, Meghan Markle dropped by the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre in Vancouver.
      Downtown Eastside Women's Centre

      Markle was previously married with a film producer Trevor Engelson. The couple divorced in 2013.   

      The couple later gave up their royal HRH titles to lead an ordinary life and moved to Canada in 2019. They currently live in California with their son Archie.   

      Right from childhood until she abandoned the royal life, Meghan has repeatedly faced racism. She has been frequently shamed as someone who was “not fit for wedding the Duke of Sussex” and blamed for the rupture of his relationship with Buckingham Palace.

      Her reaction in response to the death of an African American, George Floyd, further intensified such attacks on social media.   

      The sketch of Meghan has several similarities with that of Kareena Kapoor Khan, a Bollywood diva who celebrated her eighth wedding anniversary with husband Saif Ali Khan on October 16.  

      Both Kareena and Saif are successful actors with one son and currently expecting their second child.  

      Barring the fact that Meghan herself was divorced before marrying Harry, while Kareena married a divorced man, they share lot in common as both women broke the norms at multiple levels.   

      Like Meghan, Kareena is also married into a royal family. Saif is the scion of Pataudi.   

      Theirs too is a cross-cultural marriage. While Meghan and Harry's is interracial, the other is interreligious.

      Kareena Kapoor Khan starred opposite her future husband, Saif Ali Khan, in the 2012 film Agent Vinood.

      Interestingly, both were born to parents of diverse backgrounds. If Meghan’s father is white and mother is an African American, Kareena’s father is a Punjabi, while her mother is a Sindhi—born to a Hindu father and British Christian mother.

      Though that's not the same as an interracial companionship, Indian society remains sharply divided on religious and regional lines. That is one reason why Kareena and Saif’s wedding enraged people holding extreme right wing views, much as in the case of Meghan and Harry.  

      The Hindu Right has accused Saif of luring a Hindu woman and converting her to Islam, which was completely untrue. Except from adopting Khan as her last name, Kareena remains faithful to Hinduism, although she isn’t devoutly religious.

      If that was not enough, they came under more criticism after the couple named their son Taimur, which means iron. However, Hindu nationalists were not impressed and claimed that the child was named after a Moghul invader who, according to them, tormented Hindus.   

      Back in 2018 when an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl, Asifa Bano, was raped and murdered in a Hindu temple in Kathua, Kareena stood up for the victim on social media, inviting more trouble from supporters of the ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

      Those involved in the crime—committed to terrorize Muslims and force them to flee—has the backing of the BJP under which attacks on religious minorities have grown since 2014.  

      Both women remain vulnerable to vicious propaganda from ultra-conservative forces, who have become emboldened and openly threaten social harmony and peace everywhere.

      It is worth mentioning that Hitler is a common thread behind the ideologies followed by the haters of Meghan and Kareena.  

      While Sonnenkrieg Division treats Hitler as an avatar of God, the founders of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, a Hindu supremacist cultural group of which the BJP is a political wing, once romanticized Hitler and his actions.  

      Almost the same age, the two women share lot in common in terms of their involvement with charities and the United Nations.     

      Apart from breaking few barriers, they both have set an example for everyone in a highly polarized sociopolitical environment around the world.  

      These parallels show how those who are privileged can also make difference.  

      Let’s not view these two women through the narrow lens of beauty and fashion alone. Let’s not just look upon them as role models for fitness and sensuality, but also see their actions as meaningful contributions to a much better world.  

      But how is that possible when the media isn’t playing the role it is expected to play: to let its audience see the right thing? It is too consumed with the sensation that these two women have created with their gorgeous looks and status.

      At least in Canada and the U.S., we have media outlets that are talking about racism being faced by Meghan. But the situation of Kareena is much more tragic, considering how embedded journalism under BJP government is not only downplaying unholy actions of Hindu chauvinists, but also ganging up against her and her family for marrying a Muslim, naming her child Taimur or standing up for Asifa.

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India. He's currently writing a book about Kareena Kapoor Khan. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.