For the past few days, a controversy about Salman Khan’s supposedly fake abs is doing the rounds. A set of photographs is being circulated as a proof. Though his fans weren’t affected much, media is in no mood to let it go. In fact, the zeal with which this story was carried and the way it was presented makes one wonder whether they were merely passing on the information they had received or whether this was a clever negative propaganda, planned and executed to unfold in a certain way. A Salman Khan fan, wrote to us her view on the entire controversy. Let’s take a look at it:

Some say the video has surfaced on YouTube. Some say it has been posted on a Facebook page of a certain company. Some want us to believe that an employee angry with a company that made this video has posted it. But the actual official footage with these photos is not to be found anywhere. It’s like a meme on What’sApp which most of the media seems to be copying from each other and spreading further, never really bothering to verify or rather purposely avoiding to verify for its authenticity.


The photos being published with these stories create a doubt about the publication’s authenticity while the timing of publishing this story and making such a well – orchestrated noise about it, suggests that there is something more to it than just informing the public.

Is it a clever PR trick?

Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan
Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan

The timing of this story was very peculiar. One cannot help but link it with SRK’s yet another attempt at being in the league of Bollywood bodybuilders. The HNY song and other stories around SRK’s numerous abs didn’t really excite people and didn’t generate much buzz. It was like a repeat of Om Shaanti Om and with so many hot bods around, it wasn’t all that exciting. But the Salman story came out and SRK’s abs story got a tremendous boost. Rather it looked like this opportunity was created to give it the required boost. Or was it just an accident? What followed were instant comparisons. Some media people even went to the extent of giving headings like ‘Salman’s fake Vs. SRK’s real abs’, ‘Is Salman insecure of SRK?’ etc. etc. No matter how outrageous and nonsensical media’s claims appeared, they were pushed with a lot of zeal.

Then there were online polls (with suspect credibility) about who has best abs, there were fans of both the actors reacting on social media, there was some more spice thrown in here and there and finally the discussions started centering on ‘abs’. The online discussions went on in the manner as if the entire body was of no consequence and those ‘biscuits’ on the abdomen were the be-all and end-all of body building. Probably, that was the intention of this exercise and that was achieved to a large extent.

Too much of a coincidence!

Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan
Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan

To underline it further, a video of SRK’s workout was also released around the same time. That too, in quite a dramatic fashion. Hrithik Roshan was promoting Bang Bang and was challenging everyone with fun dares. But the dare that he proposed for Shah Rukh was neither fun nor a dare. So, what happened is this. Hrithik asked Shah Rukh to show his favorite abs workout. And bam! What we get is a well edited video of an entire set of various workouts in a strategically dimly lit place. Shah Rukh with duly applied body paint displays all sorts of exercises that he has probably done in the past few months. We also have Farah Khan sitting by his side and saying “come on Shah Rukh, you can do it” in a rather artificial tone. This exercise session culminates in Shah Rukh posing in front of a camera for the pictures (or video grabs) that had appeared in the media, much before this so called dare was proposed. On the face of it, it looks like a part of the ‘making’ video of the film.

It clearly means that the video was already shot and edited with an intention of using it as a PR tool for HNY. So, the dare may just be a well thought out strategy. On the backdrop of Salman story and in the form of completing a dare, this video got much more attention and appreciation than it otherwise would have. And once again, it became all about abs. Something that Shah Rukh definitely has got presently.

So, wouldn’t one be justified in suspecting a link in this entire goings on?

Why was media over enthusiastic?

The way media covered this particular story also appeared like a campaign. All the stories used similar words, made similar claims, were mocking in tone and made clever sweeping statements suggesting that, everything that we have seen so far as Salman’s body on screen, could be digitally created. They implied that every time he has shown his body, it has been touched up or even totally generated by the computer. It is obviously a lie but media’s enthusiasm in spreading it and the words that they chose for it, created serious doubts about their intention.

Most importantly, ETT’s director Kabir Khan’s clarification was of no consequence to them. Ideally, if an important or sensational story is broken, the new development in that story is covered without exception. Even if it is a tiny detail, it makes it to the news. But here, Kabir Khan’s clarification was totally ignored and the shrill campaign continued.

Recycled story?

The most interesting thing is, a leading Bollywood website, which literally gave ‘Life’ to the controversy, had posted the same footage (Actually, a set of four photographs) on YouTube in June 2013 as well. Here, they talk of ‘Working stills’ of ETT but don’t show any. They only show a chirping anchor and the same photographs that they are circulating now. The website has featured a lot of negative stories about Salman in the past. And this time, this old story has resurfaced on their website. So, the questions that arise are, why was it recycled? And why was it done now? Another accident?

Funnily enough, this video was totally ignored last year but this time, the story was picked up by the online editions of almost all newspapers and TV channels. Everybody more or less followed the text of the story while some added their own spice and other fictional details like what transpired between Salman and Kabir Khan. They wanted us to believe that Salman wanted to keep the footage of his out of shape body and Kabir Khan then had to correct it. Just like this one, most of the other details lacked any logic.

‘Disgruntled Employee’?

Then there was this ridiculous ‘disgruntled employee’ theory which was again quite logic defying. Why would an employee angry with the company, post Salman’s pictures? How will it harm the company? If at all this is real, company will only get the praise for this. How did media come to know about this employee? Did he put up a note on the video? And why did this mystery employee deleted his video? The fact is, companies doing such kind of work make all sorts of arrangements to prevent employees from copying any material on any device or taking it out through internet route. So, angry or otherwise, nobody can take any material outside.

Why the pictures don’t look convincing?

Salman Khan fake abs
Salman Khan fake abs

Coming back to the actual story, let’s see why these pictures don’t look convincing. It is a set of four photographs which if looked at anti clockwise, show Salman with a flat tummy, some white mesh on his body, the picture of the front portion of a really chiseled male body and finally Salman with supposedly the same picture on him. That is, Salman with six pack abs.

The very first picture has two absolutely straight lines that form the sides of his waist. These are two ramrod straight lines. This is very unnatural and no matter whether a person is thin or fat, well- built or not so well built, his waist is not formed by two absolutely straight parallel lines.

The third picture shows a prototype or a picture of a sculpted male body which was supposedly imposed on Salman’s body. Now, the two uppermost abs in this picture are flatter and longer while the ones we see on Salman’s body are two big square shaped abs. These two uppermost abs have always been seen on his body in the recent times. Sometimes, they are very much pronounced and at times, not as pronounced but they do show.

So, we can definitely say that abs that we see on his body, are not the ones shown in the third picture. Even if we consider the possibility of digitally created abs for argument’s sake, it won’t be wrong to conclude that they are probably taken from his own image elsewhere. So, if at all his six packs have been created digitally, they have used his own earlier images for the same.

Will the controversy affect Brand Salman?

Salman Khan
Salman Khan

The answer is No. Salman has too much of a reputation and past achievements in this area for this controversy to affect his brand. He has been a dedicated bodybuilder for the last 20 years and has really nothing to prove on this front. He has been shot and photographed innumerable times from all possible angles on screen and off it as well. And that doesn’t leave much space for any doubt. Even if he has taken help of technology for this one instance for whatever reason, it doesn’t take away much from him. May be, that is why Salman’s fans rallied behind him and rubbished media’s claims.

Also, it won’t be irrelevant to point out here that all the pictures that appear in advertisements or as special features in glossy magazines or snazzy supplements of newspapers, do go through a touch up. No matter, whether of a man or a woman, of face or body; a special purpose picture does go through touch up and corrections.

Is it worth it?

All said and done, I don’t know what this entire exercise has really achieved. I feel, everything about this so called controversy including this very article sounds foolish after a point. Some film stars choose to work hard on their bodies and add a facet of good physique to their personality. Those who succeed in doing so, get the due appreciation. But this effort is basically made to give an edge to their overall appeal and to the characters that they are playing on the screen. It indeed is a part of many pleasures that the audience derive from this visual medium. But are film stars or actors, about a certain part of their anatomy? Should we be discussing individual body parts and deciding who wins over whom? Isn’t it stupid?

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