Bollywood controversy

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor learn the hard way that Taimur is not just another name

The name of the star couple’s first-born has prompted a hysteria that is typical of these times.

One of the most breathlessly followed pregnancies ended on December 20 with the birth of a baby boy. His parents decided to name him after one of the most controversial and feared conquerors in history, ensuring that baby Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi generated as much online hysteria in his crib as he did from his mother’s womb.

While it is the unquestionable right of all parents to name their child after anybody or anything (ask the Bengalis and the Malayalis), the young Taimur has brought his parents under intense scrutiny. The nation wanted to know: what were they thinking?

Kareena Kapoor Khan never claimed to be the well-read one. But Saif Ali Khan, whose blood, in popular imagination, still has a tinge of royal blue, has always had intellectual aspirations. After all, not every Bollywood star goes to Winchester College or claims to have read The History of Israel while shooting for a zombie comedy.

It would seem curious that the Nawab of such erudition would choose to name his third-born and first child with his second wife after Timur, also known as Tamerlane, the Turco-Moghul conqueror who was allegedly responsible for one of the biggest massacres of Indians in 1399 AD. At a time when national pride has been at its shrillest, was this display of scholarship a bit mistimed?

Perhaps not.

There was an expected rush to Google “Timur”, with insta-historians sharing a few insights about the conqueror and master strategist’s “army of terror”. There were also other results that showed the name in a more favourable light – resolute as iron, leader, the one. A different, more dispassionate reading of Timur’s reign says he was a brilliant general and a keen mathematician. Perhaps, the parents wished to focus on the qualities that would someday come in handy for their newborn. Perhaps, during one of their many vacations on the slopes of Gstaad, the couple had looked at history through misty lenses and hoped that the future would be kinder.

After all, the world was hell-bent on branding the boy Saifeena for life, remember?

So kudos to the famous parents for not only holding out, but also cocking a snook at trolls, stalkers and armchair historians. Better go with a conqurer from history than to submit to invaders of privacy.

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