Thoughts on humanity, fame and love
I'm a movie star, I'm 51 years of age,
So I'm clean, but I do behave like you saw like a 21-year-old in my movies.
I sell dreams, and I peddle love to millions of people back home in India
who assume that I'm the best lover in the world.
If you don't tell anyone, I'm going to tell you I'm not,
but I never let that assumption go away.
I've also been made to understand
there are lots of you here who haven't seen my work,
and I feel really sad for you.
That doesn't take away from the fact that I'm completely self-obsessed,
That's when my friends, Chris and Juliet called me here
to speak about the future "you."
Naturally, it follows I'm going to speak about the present me.
Because I truly believe that humanity is a lot like me.
grappling with all the newness around itself,
wondering whether it got it right in the first place,
and still trying to find a way
to keep on shining regardless.
I was born in a refugee colony in the capital city of India, New Delhi.
And my father was a freedom fighter.
My mother was, well, just a fighter like mothers are.
And much like the original homo sapiens,
which I must admit seems a bit careless of me now,
I do remember the night my father died,
and I remember the driver of a neighbor who was driving us to the hospital.
He mumbled something about "dead people don't tip so well"
and walked away into the dark.
and I put my father's dead body in the back seat of the car,
I started driving back from the hospital to the house.
And in the middle of her quiet crying, my mother looked at me and she said,
"Son, when did you learn to drive?"
And I thought about it and realized, and I said to my mom,
much akin to humanity in its adolescence,
I learned the crude tools of survival.
And the framework of life was very, very simple then, to be honest.
You know, you just ate what you got
and did whatever you were told to do.
I thought celiac was a vegetable,
and vegan, of course, was Mr. Spock's lost comrade in "Star Trek."
You married the first girl that you dated,
and you were a techie if you could fix the carburetor in your car.
I really thought that gay was a sophisticated English word for happy.
And Lesbian, of course, was the capital of Portugal, as you all know.
created through the toil and sacrifice of generations before
and we felt that governments actually worked for our betterment.
Science was simple and logical,
Apple was still then just a fruit
owned by Eve first and then Newton,
not by Steve Jobs, until then.
And "Eureka!" was what you screamed
when you wanted to run naked on the streets.
You went wherever life took you for work,
and people were mostly welcoming of you.
still reserved for Siberian cranes, not human beings.
Most importantly, you were who you were
and you said what you thought.
I shifted to the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai,
like the newly industrialized aspirational humanity,
In the urban rush for a new, more embellished survival,
things started to look a little different.
I met people who had descended from all over the world,
faces, races, genders, money-lenders.
Definitions became more and more fluid.
Work began to define you at that time
in an overwhelmingly equalizing manner,
and all the systems started to feel less reliable to me,
and the human need to progress and grow.
Ideas were flowing with more freedom and speed.
And I experienced the miracle of human innovation and cooperation,
when supported by the resourcefulness of this collective endeavor,
catapulted me into superstardom.
I started to feel that I had arrived,
and generally, by the time I was 40, I was really, really flying.
You know? I'd done 50 films by then
and I'd been knighted by the Malaysians.
I had been given the highest civil honor by the French government,
the title of which for the life of me I can't pronounce even until now.
I'm sorry, France, and thank you, France, for doing that.
But much bigger than that, I got to meet Angelina Jolie --
And I'm sure she also remembers that encounter somewhere.
And I sat next to Hannah Montana on a round dinner table
with her back towards me most of the time.
Like I said, I was flying, from Miley to Jolie,
and humanity was soaring with me.
We were both pretty much flying off the handle, actually.
And then you all know what happened.
and I started tweeting like a canary in a birdcage
and assuming that, you know, people who peered into my world
for the miracle I believed it to be.
But something else awaited me and humanity.
You know, we had expected an expansion of ideas and dreams
with the enhanced connectivity of the world.
We had not bargained for the village-like enclosure of thought,
that flowed from the same place
that freedom and revolution was taking place in.
Everything I said took a new meaning.
Everything I did -- good, bad, ugly --
was there for the world to comment upon and judge.
As a matter of fact, everything I didn't say or do also
my lovely wife Gauri and me decided to have a third child.
Apparently, he had sown his wild oats with a girl
while driving her car in Romania.
And yeah, there was a fake video to go with it.
And we were so disturbed as a family.
even now when you say "hello" to him,
he just turns around and says,
"But bro, I didn't even have a European driving license."
slowly, reality became virtual and virtual became real,
that I could not be who I wanted to be or say what I actually thought,
completely identified with me.
I think both of us were going through our midlife crisis,
and humanity, like me, was becoming an overexposed prima donna.
from hair oil to diesel generators.
Humanity was buying everything
from crude oil to nuclear reactors.
You know, I even tried to get into a skintight superhero suit
I must admit I failed miserably.
And just an aside I want to say on behalf of all the Batmen, Spider-Men
because it really hurts in the crotch, that superhero suit.
Yeah, I'm being honest. I need to tell you this here.
And accidentally, I happened to even invent a new dance form
which I didn't realize, and it became a rage.
and you've seen a bit of me, so I'm quite shameless, I'll show you.
It was called the Lungi dance.
So if it's all right, I'll just show you. I'm talented otherwise.
So it went something like this.
Lungi dance. Lungi dance. Lungi dance. Lungi dance.
Lungi dance. Lungi dance. Lungi dance. Lungi dance.
Lungi dance. Lungi dance. Lungi dance. Lungi.
Like you notice, nobody could make any sense of what was happening except me,
and I didn't give a damn, really,
because the whole world, and whole humanity,
seemed as confused and lost as I was.
I even tried to reconstruct my identity on the social media
I thought if I put on philosophical tweets out there
people will think I'm with it,
but some of the responses I got from those tweets
were extremely confusing acronyms which I didn't understand. You know?
"Adidas," somebody wrote back to one of my more thought-provoking tweets
and I was wondering why would you name a sneaker,
I mean, why would you write back the name of a sneaker to me?
And I asked my 16-year-old daughter, and she enlightened me.
"Adidas" now means "All day I dream about sex."
I didn't know if you know that.
So I wrote back, "WTF" in bold to Mr. Adidas,
thanking secretly that some acronyms and things won't change at all.
I am 51 years old, like I told you,
and mind-numbing acronyms notwithstanding,
if there has been a momentous time for humanity to exist,
because the present you is brave.
The present you is innovative and resourceful,
and of course, the present you is annoyingly indefinable.
imperfect moment of existence,
feeling a little brave just before I came here,
I decided to take a good, hard look at my face.
And I realized that I'm beginning to look more and more
like the wax statue of me at Madame Tussaud's.
Yeah, and in that moment of realization,
I asked the most central and pertinent question to humanity and me:
Really. I'm an actor, like I told you,
a modern expression of human creativity.
is the source of inexplicable but very simple spirituality.
that I, the Muslim son of a broke freedom fighter
who accidentally ventured into the business of selling dreams,
should become its king of romance,
the greatest lover the country has ever seen ...
Which has alternately been described as ugly, unconventional,
and strangely, not chocolatey enough.
The people of this ancient land
embraced me in their limitless love,
and I've learned from these people
that neither power nor poverty
can make your life more magical
I've learned from the people of my country
a human being, a culture, a religion, a country
actually resides in its ability
I've learned that whatever moves you,
whatever urges you to create, to build,
whatever keeps you from failing,
is perhaps the oldest and the simplest emotion known to mankind,
A mystic poet from my land famously wrote,
Which loosely translates into that whatever --
yeah, if you know Hindi, please clap, yeah.
It's very difficult to remember.
Which loosely translates into actually saying
that all the books of knowledge that you might read
and then go ahead and impart your knowledge
through innovation, through creativity, through technology,
but mankind will never be the wiser about its future
unless it is coupled with a sense of love and compassion for their fellow beings.
The two and a half alphabets which form the word "प्रेम,"
if you are able to understand that
that itself is enough to enlighten mankind.
So I truly believe the future "you"
Otherwise it will cease to flourish.
It will perish in its own self-absorption.
or you may use it to break barriers and welcome them in.
and terrify them into submission,
or you can use it to give courage to people
so they rise to the greatest heights of enlightenment.
to build nuclear bombs and spread the darkness of destruction,
or you can use it to spread the joy of light to millions.
You may filthy up the oceans callously and cut down all the forests.
and regenerate life from the waters and trees.
or you may look for life-forms and species to learn from and respect.
And you can use all the moneys we all have earned
and give guns in the hands of little children
the capacity for a human being to love is akin to godliness.
which civilization, I think, already has tampered too much with.
In the last few days, the talks here, the wonderful people
coming and showing their talent,
talking about individual achievements, the innovation, the technology,
the sciences, the knowledge we are gaining by being here
in the presence of TED Talks and all of you
are reasons enough for us to celebrate the future "us."
the quest to cultivate our capacity for love and compassion
has to assert itself, has to assert itself,
It's called a chakra in India, like a circle.
It ends where it begins from to complete itself.
A you that perceives time and space differently
and your complete unimportance in the larger context of the universe.
to the original innocence of humanity,
which loves from the purity of heart,
which sees from the eyes of truth,
which dreams from the clarity of an untampered mind.
who has been made to believe that there is a possibility
of a world which is completely,
A world -- really, it has to be a you
That I believe, ladies and gentlemen,