Alfred E Neuman, the mascot and iconic symbol of Mad magazine graced the cover of more than 450 of its issues, appearing in a slew of disguises including Santa Claus, George Bush, Batman, Michael Jackson, George S Patton, Spock, etc. But, whatever the character, the grinning mug of Alfred E Neuman would shine through clearly and unmistakably, with his jug ears, missing front teeth and one eye lower than the other.
But, the grinning mug of Alfred E Neuman was confined to Mad magazine, and if one got sick of his face, one could discard the magazine and pursue other things in life.
Such an exit option, alas, is not available with the grinning mug of the more ubiquitous Shah Rukh Khan. Even if you have taken a vow, as I have, that you won’t be seen dead or alive inside a theatre screening a Hindi movie
There is simply no escaping from this guy. He has expanded the meaning, scope and dimensions of the word, “ubiquitous”. He grins at you from street hoardings, he grins at you from magazine covers, he grins at you from 90% of the ads that are screened on TV, he grins at you from the stands when a cricket match is on, he grins at you from the podium at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, he grins at you from blogposts including this one of mine ( Et tu, Raj?) and he grins at you from all news channels. Recently, all these channels went to town on how Shahrukh was the first human ever to celebrate his 42nd birthday and to have sighted 500 full moons. There he was with his trademark grin and mouthing some nonsense. He stalks and haunts you relentlessly and can materialize into being and grinning, whether you are high up in the mountains or deep inside a trench. You can never shake him away.
What I want to know is this. Is there any way I can avoid the third-degree pain of having to stare at this guy’s mug round-the-clock? Is there some method or mantra using which I can exorcise the grinning mug away from my life? Isn’t there some fundamental right that I can invoke to stop this assault on my senses? Can I file a PIL to get this national mascot replaced with something that grins less, like an elephant, tiger or peacock? In short, how can I lead a de-shahruked existence?