TIMES OF INDIA
Srinivas Laxman, 25 January 2010
MUMBAI: Bollywood has finally made it to the moon. It is making its presence felt 4 lakh km away on the lunar surface in an area close to where the first men on the men, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on July 20, 1969.
The International Lunar Geographic Society, a New York-based organization devoted to the study of the moon, has declared that a lunar crater in the moon’s Sea of Tranquillity has been christened after Shah Rukh Khan. This has been approved by the International Astronomical Union, which has a final say with regard to the naming of craters on the moon. The crater has been given the honorary designation as the Crater S R Khan on the occasion of Mr Khan’s 44th birthday” on November 2, 2009, the society said.
According to the society, the crater was named following a deluge of petitions from Shah Rukh’s admirers from India and around the world. Incidentally, one of his dedicated admirers has already presented him with a piece of the moon by buying him land there.
With a crater named after him, Shah Rukh now joins the ranks of eminent personalities like Nobel laureate C V Raman, father of the Indian space programme Vikram Sarabhai, father of the Indian nuclear programme Homi Bhabha and other luminaries like Meghnad Saha after whom craters have been named.
The decision has triggered a mixed response within the scientific community, with the father of the Indian moon mission Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan supporting it, but president of the National Space Society, Suresh Naik, describing it as “shocking”. In another vein, a young schoolgirl commented, “I think another crater on the moon should be named after Amitabh Bachchan, since he is also a great actor.”
Secretary of the Indian chapter of the Moon Society, Pradeep Mohandas, shared Kasturirangan’s view. “I think it is not a bad idea since it reflects the thinking of the new generation of young Indians,” he said.
Kasturirangan told TOI on Sunday from New Delhi that Shah Rukh is extremely popular and a symbol of national pride.
“I do see a rationale behind this decision. He is a kind of ambassador for India and this reflects the way India views him,” he said.
Shah Rukh’s link with the space programme goes back to May 2001, when the last man who stood on the surface of the moon, Eugene A Cernan, during a visit to Mumbai invited the actor to Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas. The actor sat in a model of the lunar vehicle which was brought over by Cernan. Shah Rukh acted in `Swades’, the bulk of which was shot in Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
The S R Khan Crater is part of the Arago crater group, named for Francois Jean Dominique Arago, a Catalan-French mathematician, physicist, astronomer and politician who lived from 1786 to 1853. It is the largest of the main Arago crater’s four satellite craters and rests in the Sea of Tranquillity, directly south of the main crater.
Actor Shah Rukh Khan isn’t only reigning the Earth. He seems to have made a place for himself on the moon as well, what with a Lunar crater being named after him. The International Lunar Geographic Society recently announced that a crater in the ‘Sea of Tranquility’ will be named after Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan.
“It’s absolutely thrilling and humbling at the same time,” said an elated Shah Rukh Khan about the honour.
The actor, who has reigned Bollywood since the last twenty years, says that this honour is more for India, and that he is glad that India makes its presence on the global map once again! “I am in a small way doing good service for my country. The fact that my name is chosen is because the world is looking at India and I happen to be a part of this wonderful land of opportunity,” he said.
It was decided and the society and the International Astronomical Union that the crater on the moon will be called Crater S R Khan, and the same was decided upon on SRK’s 44th birthday. While both SRK and his fans are thrilled by this decision, some experts and scientists haven’t taken too kindly to his honour being bestowed upon an actor. Some feel that the honour should in fact have been bestowed upon a scientist, or an expert in the field.
However, unperturbed by negative responses, SRK is on top of the world, literally speaking. “I came to Mumbai with stars in my eyes and Allah has granted me all and more. I am so happy that through the opportunity given to me by my fans, audience and the media platforms that I work with… So thanks to all those who suggested my name and to everyone who has made films with me. My kids are very excited and I know my parents would have been very proud. I’m already telling Karan to launch the next film called My Name Is Chand.”
Shah Rukh Khan now joins the league of Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, Sir Isaac Newton, Julius Caesar and Jules Verne…. And is literally over the moon!